Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rules for Staying on the Path from Saint Theophan

Saint Theophan offeres the following set of rules for staying on the spiritual path to union with God.

1. Fear doubt. it is the primary enemy. Our diligence before God... gives rise to the idea that we have some special quality by comparison with others and even by comparison with ourselves; this is more likely to occur when we have achieved some success along the path... We begin to daydream of ourselves as perfect beings who accomplish wonderful things... The enemy seizes us like a helpless prey.

2. Fear and apprehension will not abandon you. We walk amongst snares. the enemy never immediately temps with what is obviously bad; instead, is more likely to deceive us with the appearance of good.

3. May the fear of death and of judgment and death never leave you. From morning, at the same time you are renewing the memory of the Lord in your heart, take care to add to this the memory of these final things.

4. It is impossible for you to be completely removed from society. however, it is up to you as to how much time you spend in less desirable company. When you are in society, do not forget, to the extent that you are able, to keep your attention on the true Lord, Who is closely by and within, and do not forget the remembrance of death, which is ready to take you. Do not give your heart over to the pleasurable impressions of the eyes, ears or other senses. Life in that world is bad. Too many things, people and activities crowded into the soul; the mental impression of all this then disturbs it. It is also not conducive to proper prayer. There is only one remedy for this: guard your heart as much as possible from the pleasantness of impressions.

5. Do not, however, avoid people, and do not be gloomy... You should spend more time with their own kind. Most likely you have good habits. Do not fall away from them that you make yourself seem something out of the ordinary, and do not run the danger of peoples gossip.

6. Spiritual studies–prayer, reading, and meditation–must be done every day without they'll. What you do when is for you to decide yourself. Get up a little earlier, and before you leave the house, do your spiritual studies to the extent possible. Spend a little more time in prayer, however... After prayer, read meditatively, and apply everything you read to your own situation, or think how to bring in about and your life.

7. Labor with all your strength; bring to the Lord all your concerns about success. Trusting God is the foundation of spiritual life. Nothing will happen all of a sudden; everything will come about in its own time. Everything you seek with faith will come. But when? When the Lord is ready to grant it. be patient, remaining steadfast in the ways you have begun.

Ten Points for an Orthodox Way of Life

Reference: The Spiritual Life, pp 201-203

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