Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Attaining Our Nothingness

Union with God is not possible without feeling like we are nothing.  But what is this feeling? I can't describe it myself. I imagine it's like knowing that whatever actions we take we can see that all actions are do to the work of God.  We  become capable to see this this reality in everything.  God's "invisible hand" that is at work in all things suddenly becomes visible to us. 

Saint Theophan gives us advice on this condition:
The person can on his part apply the following: observing how different affairs and incidents come about in order to see the power of God in the; delving with strong faith into the conditions of justification to the point of crying out: "Thou Who knowest all things, save me;" seeing the countless myriads of enemies, hidden paths, darkness before his face, perplexing crossroads, and God's hidden intentions."
The point we need to reach is where we know there is nowhere to turn but to God.  Once this becomes a reality for us then we surrender to Him and His Church. Then we see his mighty hands at work in all things.

Saint Theophan says that the ancient Church Fathers tell us,
"The feeling of one's nothingness and dedication to God unfolds best under constant sorrows and especially through extreme, providential crosses..."
With a good guide, and upon our full surrender to God's will, we begin to become a doer of His works instead of our own.

Satin Theophan says,
"He who commits himself into God's hands receives something from God and acts according to what he receives.  This is a living union, life in God, confirmation in Him of one's entire existence: the mind, heart and will."
It is at this stage he says we begin to develop mental prayer.  Notice how far along the path He begins to talk about mental prayer.  Often we read excerpts from the Philokalia, or some other holy person who speaks of the mystical heights of Christian spirituality, and think we can apply these to our own life.  Beware! As we have show in this series on the Path to Salvation, there is a long road to the state where this advice has any meaning for our own spiritual development.  We don't enter the Olympics of spiritual endeavors without first undergoing extensive training and preparation guided by a qualified coach.

I am gong to reflect more on this path Saint Theophan has so clearly outlined for us that has been described in these recent posts.  But first we will take one step higher and then come back for this reflection.

1 comment:

  1. Deacon Charles,

    Thank you for the sobering series of posts on the long path to salvation. They have been beneficial to my spirit.

    Few people comment to your posts. I wonder if this is because your readers are quiet or you have few readers. If the latter, I regret that because your posts should be good for new and maturing Christians. Surely, other Orthodox web sites would be willing to commend this one.



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