Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Passions as Damp Wood

fire3.jpgWhen we have the Holy Spirit burning within us we experience a Divine Warmth.  This is often referred to as a flame.  It is a peaceful feeling of warmth in the center of our being.  There is an intensity which goes with it but it does not make us tense. It is comforting and enabling. 
This “flame will not appear as long as we are under the control of our passions.  Saint Theophan uses the analogy with damp firewood.  He says,
Passions are like dampness in firewood.  damp firewood does not burn.  It is necessary to fetch dry logs from somewhere and kindle them.  Once they start burning, they begin drying out the dampness, and, depending on how much they are able to dry the damp firewood, they set it afire… Our fire wood consists of all the faculties of our souls and  all the functions of our bodies.  All of these, so long as the  person does not pay attention to himself, are saturated  with dampness––with passions, that is, and, until these passions are driven away, they stubbornly resist the spiritual fire.
We must seek the Holy Spirit which is the dry log that can help dry the dampened logs of the passions within us.  With faith and fear of God we pray for the Holy Spirit to help us and we participate in the holy sacraments of the Church.  We constantly seek His help and guidance opening the door of the Spirit to come in and work though us.
As Saint Theophan puts it,
You stand on the side of God consciously and through free will.  You want to belong to God and to please Him.
The passions are the blocks we need to remove from our pathway to God.  We must know them well and learn how to disarm them.  With dry wood, the flame burns with ease and intensity.

Reference: The Spiritual Life, pp 224-227

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