Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Self-Control lifts us to see the infinite in things of this world.

"Self-control freely exercised by a believer isn't a restraint from the ascent to God, but the departure from evil things.  The purpose is to keep him from total submersion in the world."

Between the time of creation and the present time there has been a shift in the proper use of things created.  Originally food was given to us to eat, but it became something that was seen as a pleasure for the body.  Our passions transform what was useful for our ascendence to God into a chain which binds us to the earthly world.

Fr. Dimitru Staniloae says,
The world of things and of persons is thus meant to be a ladder to God, the support in the ascent to Him.  But by the passions man takes this brilliant depth, this transparence, which reaches infinite, from the world.
Instead of freeing mankind in the world, things turned him into their slave.  His passions for pleasures change their intended purpose.

Fr Dimitru advises,
The restraint which Christianity urges man to exercise is for man's spirit to claim its rights from the lower impulses which have overwhelmed him.  By self-control which limits the passions, man reestablishes the limits and freedom of the spirit in himself.  But in so doing, he awakens with himself the factor which sees int he world something else besides objects to satisfy these passions.  By self control man removes from the world the wave of darkness and givers it once again the attribute of making it transparent for the infinite.  So disrespect for the world ins't shown in self-control, but rather the will to discover the entire majesty of the world; self-control isn't a complete turning away from the world, to see God, but a turning away from a world narrow and exaggerated by the passions, to find a transparent world which itself becomes a mirror of God and a ladder to Him.

Ref: Orthodox Spirituality, p 148 - 149

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