Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spiritual Warfare VI - The Ascent

This last stage of spiritual warfare involves our ascent, a new state of inner being where the union with God becomes meaningful. This final ascent, according to Saint Theophan, involves preserving this new new state where we sense the sweetness of God's inner presence.  He advises the following:
1. Force oneself to ceaselessly behold God and lift oneself to the feeling that one is being seen by God.
2. Do everything for the glory of God.  Seek nothing in all action other than this.
3. Do everything with an awareness that it is being done by God's will.  Embrace all that comes your way as part of His will.––joy and sorrow.
Eventually he says,
"You will become accustomed to mentally standing in the vision of God with His infinite perfections."  
This sweet feeling of God's presence will become a norm during your times of prayer.  Your yearning for God is no longer something you seek, but rather it is now something quite natural, something you want to preserve.  

Saint Theophan says, 
"It should be made real, alive, like a natural pull that is sweet, earnest, and uncontrollable... This is the sign of this birth: earnest, quiet, and unforced inner concentration, before God accompanied by a feeling of reverence, fear, joy and the like."
You are now happy to be alone with God and begin to experience what the hesychasts describe as inner silence.

He says,
"Like a ray of sunlight carries away a drop of dew, so does the Lord enrapture the spirit that comes into contact with Him."
At this stage our heart has been purified.  You are now able to totally dedicate yourself to God.  God now begins to guide your intellect, will and feelings and permeate all of your actions.  He becomes  the doer of everything.  You are now an instrument of His love.  

This final movement is what the Lord was telling Peter when he said,
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” (Jn 21:18).
Reference: Path to Salvation pp 312-317

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