Monday, July 25, 2016

What is Orthodox Spirituality?

The term spirituality is used very loosely in our culture. But Orthodox spirituality has a very specific meaning. It is most clearly stated by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae a renown Romanian Theologian (1903 - 1993). He describes it as a life long process. It is a road that leads one to "perfection in Christ." This road involves the "cleansing of passions and the winning of virtues." It is a process that that takes place in a certain order. It is a process that involves the cleaning of one passion and then another. At the same time one acquires different virtues. Once a certain level of perfection is reached it "culminates in love." Finally one has closed themselves of all passions and has attained all virtues. This is perfection. He says,
"As man climbs toward this peak, he simultaneously moves toward union with Christ and the knowledge of Him by experience, which is also called deification."
Orthodox Spiritually involves a step by step transformation. as one processes he is filled with more and more presence of God.

The aim is perfection in Christ, a full union with Him. Our will become one with His and we are able to do His will instead of your self-centered will as we pray for in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy will be done." Since God's goodness is infinite there is no end to this process. We never reach the point of total perfection.
He says,
"Our perfection, our union with God, is therefore not only a goal, but also an unending progress.... The culminating state of the spiritual life isis when the believer is raised higher than the level of his own powers,not of his own accord, but by the work of the Holy Spirit.
He describes this as a mystical life. He says,
"It is only by prolonged effort, by discipline, can testate of perfection and mystical union with God be reached."
This is called Asceticism which we will discuss in the next posting.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae