Thursday, January 27, 2011

Building a Strong Spiritual Center Within

Developing our relationship with God is a life long effort. It begins with an awakening to the reality of God followed by our baptism where we receive the Holy Spirit. This grace which is within us acts like leaven in the making of bread. When we make bread we add leaven and then kneed it until it is mixed thoroughly throughout the entire mixture. It provides energy so the flower mixture will rise becoming filled with air. The same happens with grace that comes to us in our baptism. It permeates our entire being. It fills us with spirit so we can become like God. As long as we continue to perfect ourselves through a life of repentance, this grace remains active and continues to grow in strength, but when we don't nurture it it withdraws and become silent. We become like a fallen loaf of bread.

Throughout our life we are continually making choices. We choose either to follow the direction that grace leads us in, or, we instead, choose to follow our own thoughts and reasoning. St. Theophan  tells us that when we do live a grace-filled life our internal being will become "radiant like a star, beaming bright rays everywhere.”

Saint Theophan cautions us that if we do not continue to choose the path grace leads us down then grace will abandon us.  When we do follow it a powerful center forms in us.
He says,
If you, through your own choice and decision, do not choose grace, then it will abandon you completely, and leave you in the hands of your self-will... Inner regulation begins only when you choose the side of grace, and make the ways of life in the spirit of grace the inviolable rule of your life. From that moment, as the decision is forming inside you, a center will also form within you, a powerful center, which will begin more and more forcefully to draw you toward itself. In this center will be grace... Then the grace of God will begin to draw towards the center all the other forces of your nature, both intellectual and spiritual, and govern their entire action, retaining within them that which is good, and destroying that which is bad. This drawing of everything to one center and directing of all to one goal is the inner rebirth that you have so fervently desired.
This is the aim of Orthodox Spirituality to draw in and empower the grace of the Holy Spirit within us. Our aim is to become Holy through the work of grace working through all our members and in all of our actions. With our cooperation we can become as bright as a star as Saint Theophan suggests.

 Reference: The Spiritual Life; pp 128–132

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