Monday, November 25, 2019

Awakening Our Heart to God (3) - Through Visible Means and the Senses

Saint Theophan tells us that an awakening to God and developing the desire to live a God pleasing life requires the intervention of divine Grace. He says the awakening occurs in two ways: by visible means and our senses or an internal awareness of the Spirit. This article will focus on the first.

Let me begin by reviewing the vision that must develop in us. He describes it as follows:
God is one, worshipped in Trinity, the Creator and Upholder of all things, or as the Apostle says, the Head of all things (cf. Eph 1:10) in our Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, active in the Holy Church, which, having perfected the faithful, transports them to another world. The world will continue until the fullness of time, or the end of time, when, at the resurrection and judgment all will receive according to their deeds—some will descend into hell, while others will dwell in paradise, and God will be all to all (cf. 1Cor 15:28).
 Consider how frequently God is revealed visibly. This can happen when He appears in a worldly form while the believer is either awake or asleep. I had two such experiences. One was more mystical where the heaven was revealed with nodes of shimmering lights, like galaxies but different. It was a sign of a greater world where things existed in love. This led to a recognition of an unsustainable lifestyle and a commitment to change. My wife and a few others decided to sell our house and form a communal community seeking harmony in Nature and Spirit where we lived off the grid and grew much of our own food. The other event that resulted in another and more significant change was a revelation of Christ Himself in broad daylight while standing on the edge of a small lake while living in this community. Jesus turned to me and simply said, “Charlie, why are you denying me.” He then left. This truly awakened me and I immediately sought out a spiritual father and began a disciplined life as taught by the Orthodox Church.

Saint Theophan points out many examples of this kind of intervention by grace. He mentions Paul and how Jesus appeared to Him on the road to Damascus. He also mentioned Constantine the great where the “chi roh” sign (first two letter of Christ in Greek) appeared to him in a dream and he was told that if made this his sign on his troops banner they would be successful. They were, and his reign led to the Christianation of the Roman Empire.

He appears in different ways also such as the numerous appearances of the Theotokos. Angels have also appeared many times. Or, it can happen by an appearance of any of the saints. These are not uncommon experiences.

Another way we experience this is by miracles caused by a mysterious force. This is why we see Jesus and His disciples performing miracles of healing, and raising people from the dead. These unexplainable events rationally lead people to awaken to the Spirit and to seek unity with God.

Saint Theophan says the following:
“In all such manifestations, the mind, confused by various objects and seductions of the world and hopelessly caught in the visible, sensible, external order, is confronted with striking, unexpected and sudden appearance to it of higher beings and powers.from the invisible realm.”
In these visible or sensible experiences our distorted worldly view of realty is shaken and a larger view emerges which bursts open our heart to receive and recognize grace working in us. We suddenly realize how mistaken we have been about our way of life, what we value and seek. Instead, awakened by grace, we turn ourselves to God and now seek an intimate relationship with Him.

Next we will discuss internal perceptions that also lead to an awakening.

Reference: Path to Salvation by Saint Theophan the Recluse, pp 107-109, p227

Awakening Our Heart to God (2)    Awakening Our Heart to God (4)

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