Friday, February 19, 2010

Spiritual Exercises for the Will

Developing the will involves training it to be oriented to the virtues––humility, meekness, patience, continence, submissiveness, helpfulness and others.  This activity is primarily directed against self-will.

Saint Theophan says,
"This infirmity is healed by submission to the will of God, with denial of your own and of any other."

This includes the following:
   1. Obedience to God's commandments according to each person's duty or calling.
   2. Submission to the whole church rubrics or rule
   3. Submission to civil order, or to family duty, for they are conduits of God's will.
   4. Obeying to God's will as manifested in your fate.
   5. Subjecting yourself to the spirit that is zealous to fulfill its vows.

The challenge is to determine what is possible for you to do. It is important to do everything with discernment.  Each day go over all  the possible opportunities and the deeds done.

Saint Theophan says,
"Those who are used to doing righteous deeds never pre-determine what they are going to do, but do always what God sends them, for everything comes from God.  He reveals His own determinations to us through different occurrences... Do everything with humility and fear of God according to God's will and to His glory." 

His next point is an important one.  The spirit with which we do good deeds is most important.
"He who does something out of self-reliance, with boldness and audacity, out of self-gratification or man-pleasing, no matter how righteous the works may be, only fosters within himself an evil spirit of self-righteiousness, arrogance and pharisaism."

To often we find ourselves caught up in our self-directed works. We may attend a charity ball, tournament, or dinner, or serve at a soup kitchen thinking we are dong good, when in fact we are acquiescing to social norms or pressures, acting out of a human-pleasing duty, seeking recognition or simply engaging in personal pleasure. 

Begin with the small acts and to ascend to what is higher, he says.  "It is good to choose one outstanding virtuous work according to your character and station, and stick with it unswervingly... Everything should be done in moderation... The most reliable of all is almsgiving..."

Ref: Path to Salvation, p 250-255

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