Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ascent is Based on Love and is Within the Church

Orthodox teachings is based on the experience of God.  A God who communicates to us through His love, in Spirit and by His uncreated energies.  God is neither distant nor a God who brings us into fusion with Him where our personality is lost.

The Christian God is Trinitarian, consisting of three person, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  All one in essence. This is a tri-personal divine community. One in which each person is unconfused in the divinity but bound together by love.  The love exhibited by the oneness of the three persons affirms that God is a God of love. The Trinitarian nature of the God shows us the nature of the earthly community we are to be part of and the nature of our union with Him. This Love is one where persons are united by love for each other yet they each retain their identity and free will. We are to seek unity without being blended together.

God wants to extend His infinite love to us. We are created in the likeness of the Son. Through His Incarnation, Life and teachings, Crucifixion, and Resurrection He showed us the way. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are raised to the divine world.  It is what changes us, like It changes the wine and bread into the blood and body of Christ in the Eucharist. 

Fr. Dimitru says,
By the Holy Spirit we are raised up to the divine world, or the divine world penetrates us.  This changes us, with this our deification starts.  This is what Orthodox Spirituaity, or our spiritual life consists of.
The spiritual ascent toward union with God must be in the Church.

Fr. Dimitru says,
As Christians starting on the lowest step of our spiritual state, we have our consciousness sensitized by the Holy Spirit.  We know that in this weary and prolonged undertaking we have a continuous relationship with Jesus Christ, Who is standing beside us, sustaining our steps; but we also know that He is ahead of us, as an example, calling us to Him, to a fuller communion with Him.  He is like a good friend, better than you are in every way, who is also beside you as you journey toward moral perfection, a friend who is also ahead of you, always prompting you t go on.
Jesus gave us the commandments that speak to our conscience. He is hidden within us from the time of our Baptism. As we purify ourselves His presence becomes ever more clear to us.

Fr. Dimitru says,
We make the ascent by ascetical efforts to the mystical contemplation of Christ , through Christ, toward Christ....
Nicholas Cabasilas says
Christ penetrates us by the holy mysteries, by the washing of Baptism, by the anointing with holy Chrism, and by the partaking of Him from the Holy Table.  By the medium of these holy mysteries, "Christ comes to us and dwells in us; His is united to us and grows into one with us.  He stifles sin in us and infuses into us His own life and merit... (The Life in Christ 1.11 p 60)
Fr Dimitru
The spiritual ascent, even if it carries someone close to God in Heaven, is an ascent within the Church, on the spiritual steps of the Church on earth, and on those of the Church in Heaven.  There is no other ladder to God, except the one in the Church.... at the top of this ladder ad only there, as the peak of the entire hierarchy, Christ is found.
Next: What are the Major Steps of the Spiritual Life?

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality pp 46 - 68

1 comment:

  1. Many of the points you mention this morning are the very reasons why I am seeking and studying the Orthodox faith. Keep up the great posts. You are teaching me so much!


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