Monday, December 18, 2023

The Divine Incarnation: Understanding Christmas Beyond Bethlehem

As we celebrate Christmas, it's essential to delve deeper than the traditional imagery of Bethlehem, a guiding star, a humble birth in a manger, angels glorifying, and the arrival of the wise men. These elements, while important, especially for children, only scratch the surface of a profound spiritual truth for adults.

The Birth of Jesus Christ: A New Creation

The birth of Jesus Christ marks not just a historical event but a miraculous new beginning. Jesus's conception itself was extraordinary, born not of earthly means but through the Holy Spirit's action upon Mary, a most holy woman. This miraculous event allowed the divine to become joined with humanity, creating a unique union of God in human flesh. Jesus, thus, stands as the 'New Adam', symbolizing a new possibility for humanity.

Theosis: Becoming United with God

The Incarnation opens the pathway to Theosis – an intimate union with God. In the Orthodox Church, through Baptism and Chrismation, we receive the Holy Spirit which is panted in our hearts, echoing this divine union. As Scripture affirms, God then lives in us and we live in Him and we become adopted children and heirs. As St. Symeon the New Theologian expressed, our rebirth in Christ transforms us, allowing us to don divinity and become heavenly as Christ is heavenly.

If you are a Christian inasmuch as Christ is heavenly, so also you should be heavenly…He made the whole of me God. He assumed my condemned flesh, and dressed me in full divinity, for having been baptized I put on Christ (Gal 3:27) not perceptibly, but by all means mentally. (Hymns of Divine Love, Hymn 44)

Without the Incarnation, this union with God would remain unreachable, leaving us in our fallen state stemming from Adam and Eve's fall. However, Jesus's life and teachings show us the path to this new creation, to become divine like Him and return to our state before the Fall due to Adam and Eve's disobedience. We can now put on Christ, not physically but spiritually. Through grace, adoption, perception, knowledge and contemplation we are transformed by following His example. We can now become like Him!

Embracing Spiritual Transformation

Christmas is more than a commemoration; it's an invitation to spiritual transformation. It's a journey that requires faith, following Christ's teachings, and living in obedience to His commandments. This path opens our souls to increasing grace, enabling us to experience God's presence and align our will with His.

Saint Symeon writes about the ultimate goal of God's incarnate word: to make us partake in His divine nature, to elevate us by grace to His level by nature, preparing us for eternal life His kingdom.

Saint Symeon writes: 

“What is the aim of the incarnate dispensation of God’s Word, preached in all the Holy Scriptures but which we, who read them, do not know? The only aim is that, having entered into what is our own, we should participate in what is His. The Son of God has become Son of Man in order to make us, men, sons of God, raising our race by grace to what He is Himself by nature, granting us birth from above through the grace of the Holy Spirit and leading us straightway to the kingdom of heaven, or rather, granting us this kingdom of heaven within us (Luke 17:21), in order that we should not merely be fed by the hope of entering it, but entering into full possession thereof should cry: our ‘life is hid with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3).”  St. Symeon the New Theologian, “Practical and Theological Precepts” from The Philokalia

The True Gift of Christmas

Thus, the true gift of Christmas is the potential for Theosis, a profound transformation that transcends moral directives or societal norms. It's a metamorphosis of our very being, led by the Spirit and grace, to intimately know God and become like Him.

As we celebrate Christmas, let's remember and glorify: Christ is born! Humanity is transformed! We are invited to follow Him and become divine in His likeness.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Heavenly Life as Seen in Revelation 21:1-4

The Book of Revelation (21:1-4) offers important insights about the nature of heavenly life. It was a vision given to Saint John the Theologian during his exile on the island of Patmos around 96AD. 

New Creation
St. John writes, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…’ The "new heaven and a new earth" is understood as the culmination of God's redemptive work, where earthly life tainted by sin and death is transformed and renewed. This reflects God's original intent for creation, a perfect harmony of humanity and the cosmos with Him.
For Orthodox Christians salvation not merely individual redemption, but is a cosmic transformation and renewal. The "new heaven and a new earth indicates not the annihilation of the current world, but its glorious transformation and restoration to its intended beauty and harmony. In the new creation, humanity is not only restored to its pre-Fall condition, but is elevated to participate in God's divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). 
The Divine Liturgy is seen as a participation in the heavenly worship— a foretaste of the coming Kingdom. References from this vision of Saint John’s are found throughout the Liturgy, emphasizing the connection between earthly worship and the eternal counterpart in the new creation.
The Divine Liturgy is seen as a participation in the heavenly worship— a foretaste of the coming Kingdom. References from this vision of Saint John’s are found throughout the Liturgy, emphasizing the connection between earthly worship and the eternal counterpart in the new creation.

New Heavenly Jerusalem
Saint John further visualizes, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” The New Jerusalem represents a place of perfect communion between God and humanity, and a beacon of the Church's destined glory. The imagery and descriptions of the New Jerusalem align with the broader themes of theosis (deification), liturgical worship, and the hope of resurrection and eternal life.

A life in union with God
Saint John continues hearing a loud voice, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  This reflects the intimate union that God desires with humanity—a theme found especially in the Eucharist where we partake of the real presence of Christ's Body and Blood. Our sacramental life in the Church is a foretaste of the eternal communion of God dwelling with His people that Saint John foresaw. The Orthodox Church lives in anticipation of the full realization of God's Kingdom. 
St. Symeon the New Theologian also experienced and wrote about an intimate union with God and how it is achievable in this life and then more fully in the age to come. This journey, termed Theosis, is central to Orthodox spirituality. This process that leads one towards union with God requires God's grace. It is also based on a central Orthodox doctrine that distinguishes between God's essence and His energies. St. Gregory Palamas clarified this ancient teaching in the 14th century and has contributed significantly to understanding the nature of this union. It is because of the reality of His uncreated energies that we are able be united with Him. The saints, especially the Theotokos (Mother of God) and all the martyrs, already participate fully in this reality. Their intercessions and roles as exemplars point to the promise of found in Revelation where all of God's people will dwell with Him.

No more suffering
Saint John also says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”This captures the hope that in the end, all sorrow, pain, and death will be abolished. This promise of hope is a central tenet of Orthodox faith.

Saint John’s mystical vision of the glorious world to come supports the Orthodox emphasis on salvation as a mystical union with God. This theme is echoed in our liturgical prayers and hymnology as well as the teaching of the Church Fathers.

It’s is important to remember that these visions that Saint John recorded in the Book of Revelation are about a realm that cannot be completely described in earthly terms. They are mystical. We must be humble and limit our speculation about them. The Church is our beacon and bridge to guide us from this world to the next through the sacramental life it offers, preparing us to be seen as worthy of entering into this Paradise.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

What is heaven like? Saint Symeon the New Theologian

Saint Symeon the New Theologian addresses the question, What is the bright condition the whole creation is again to receive?

You should know likewise what is to be the glory and the brightly shining state of the creation in the future age. For when it will be renewed, it will not again be the same as it was when it was created in the beginning. But it will be such as according to the word of the divine Paul, our body will also be. Concerning our body the Apostle says: It is sown a natural body but is raised not as the body of the first-created one was before the transgression of the commandment, that is, material, sensuous, changeable, having need of sensuous food, but it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:41) and unchanging, such as was the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, after the Resurrection, He being the first-born from among the dead, which body was incomparably superior to the body of first-created Adam. In the same way also the whole creation, according to the commandment of God, is to be, affer the general resurrection, not such as it was created, material and sensuous, but it is to be re-created and to become a certain immaterial and spiritual dwelling, surpassing every sense, and as the Apostle says of us, We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor. 15:51). Thus also the whole creation, after it shall burn up in the Divine fire, is to be changed, that there may be fulfilled also the prophecy of David who says that the righteous shall inherit the earth (Ps. 36:29) - of course, not the sensuous earth. For how is it possible that those who have become spiritual will inherit a sensuous earth? No, they will inherit a spiritual and immaterial earth, so as to have on it a dwelling worthy of their glory after they shall be vouchsafed to receive bodies that are bodiless and above every sense.

Thus the whole creation, after it will be renewed and become spiritual, will become a dwelling which is immaterial, incorruptible, unchanging, and eternal. The heaven will become incomparably more brilliant and bright than it appears now; it will become completely new. The earth will receive a new, unutterable beauty, being clothed in many-formed, unfading flowers, bright and spiritual. The sun will shine seven times more powerfully than now, and the whole world will become more perfect than any word can describe. Having become spiritual and divine, it will become united with the noetic world, it will be a certain mental Paradise, a heavenly Jerusalem, the inalienable inheritance of the sons of God.

Such an earth has not been inherited as yet by a single man; we are all strangers and foreigners. But when the earthly be united with the heavenly, then also the righteous will inherit that already-renewed earth whose inheritors are those meek ones who are blessed by the Lord.

Now, for the time being, some of the earthly is being United with heavenly, and some is yet to be united with it. The souls of the saints, as we have said, even though they are still the body in this world, are united with the grace of the Holy Spirit, are renewed, are changed for the better and resurrected from mental death. Later, after separation from the body, they will depart into glory and into the unsetting, brightly shining light. Their bodies, however, are not yet vouchsafed this, bur remain in the tombs and in corruption. But they also are to become incorruptible during the general resurrection, when also all this visible and sensuous creation will become incorruptible, and will be united with the heavenly and invisible. This must happen first, and then there will come with power and great glory the most desired and sweetest Jesus Christ, our King and God, to judge the world and to give to each according to his deeds. For this He will divide the renewed creation into many mansions and abodes, as if it were a great house or some kind of royal palace with a multitude of various apartments, and He will give to each his part, according to the brightness and glory acquired by his virtues. Thus, the Kingdom of Heaven will be one, will have a single King over all, Who will be visible from everywhere to all the righteous. He will remain with each of the righteous, and each of the righteous will remain with Him: He will brightly shine in each one, and each one will brightly shine in Him. But woe to those who then will be seen to be outrident that heavenly dwelling! 

From The First-Created Man by St Simeon the New Theologian.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Firm in Faith: Dealing with Temptation and Divergent Values in Relationships

When tempted by thoughts or friends who rationalize sinful actions with the prospect of later forgiveness, it is crucial to be vigilant and firm in faith, reflecting on the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the grave separation from God that ensues from knowingly contravening God’s commandments. Such actions elevate our will above God’s, essentially deifying our desires.

However, God’s infinite mercy always forgives sincerely repented sins. A healthy soul fortified by robust faith resists temptations and feels guilt and sorrow when faltering, motivating repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness through confession. Conversely, a weak soul, dulled by continual denial of God’s will, succumbs to sin and isolates itself from God, spiraling into a life dominated by passion-driven sins, oblivious to the ever-present God.

Facing temptation from a friend is challenging, necessitating a careful, loving, and clear expression of one’s values without inciting anger or appearing judgmental. Proposing alternative actions and maintaining respect and love for the friend, despite differing values, are pivotal. Engaging in a respectful dialogue about differing values, grounded in humility and mutual respect, fosters understanding and strengthens relationships, reflecting the teaching of Christ to love and respect one another.

Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 10:13 remind us that God provides a way to overcome temptation, reinforcing our resolve to adhere to Christian teachings and values in the face of challenges and temptations. Balancing faithfulness to one’s beliefs with love and respect for others, especially those with differing values, exemplifies true Christian living.

Remember, firmness in faith, clarity and conciseness in expression, combined with a loving and respectful attitude, can convey our Orthodox values and beliefs effectively, fostering understanding and mutual respect among diverse individuals.

 Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Saturday, October 7, 2023

My Greek Adventure: Nurturing the Soul's Longing

There is something about Greece that words cannot adequately express. I have visited Greece many times, but during my recent two-week vacation on the island of Crete, I felt a unique spirit, one that transcended mere culture; it reached deep into my soul. I experienced a blend of emotions—sadness, longing, and freedom—all of which left me both mystified and searching. 

Greece, undeniably a Christian land, stands at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. Its landscape is dotted with beautiful churches, some grand, some humble, housing holy relics, and even the miraculously uncorrupted bodies of beloved saints. Even the tiniest chapels are adorned with beautiful icons, aglow with the light of burning or recently extinguished candles, and filled with the intoxicating scent of incense. Some of these sacred sites have stood for over a millennium, their bells ringing out to announce divine services. Passersby routinely make the sign of the cross or stop to light a candle, and during a service, you can witness various expressions of devotion. There's the chanter whose body moves with expression in harmony with his melodic voice, the elderly lady continuously making the sign of the cross, another who occasionally prostrates herself, and a man who reverently pulls slips of paper from his bag, each bearing a name for his prayers. The chants, incense, and holy icons all declare the presence of the Holy Spirit. In Greece, the Church is an ever-present companion.

Our mode of transport was a rented VW Polo, and there was something liberating about navigating the Greek roads. The highways with the familiar lane markings and stop signs are meant as suggestions. Driving felt like a dance of awareness, with motorcycles weaving through traffic. The pace is unhurried, rarely exceeding 40 mph, as most roads are narrow by our standards. Stoplights are only found in major cities, and driving feels organic, with two lane roads suddenly turning into three, disregarding the lane markings.  Vehicles and pedestrians attempting to cross anywhere, seem to disregard traffic riles entirely. Often, we'd pause to let an approaching vehicle pass due to obstacles like parked cars or trash bins, buildings on both sides. or a rock outcropping. The roads are rarely straight and curves are often blind to oncoming traffic. Remarkably, we observed not a single accident. The flow of traffic, like so many aspects of life in Greece, is harmonious and free. It gave me a sense of freedom.

Innumerable quaint villages, each with its own family-run mini markets, bakeries, and butcher shops, await exploration. The finest olive oil and cheese can be found here, along with fresh-baked bread, pies, an array of delectable sweets, and tasty organically grown heirloom vegetables. The traditional food is simple but delicious and affordable. Coffee and sweet shops along with family run small tavernas, bustle day and night, serving as gathering places for locals who engage in hours of friendly dialogue with friends and family.

Greece seamlessly marries land, sea, and sun. While olive tree groves, vineyards, sheep and goat pastures have transformed the natural environment, the sea remains natural and an ever-present force. The sea with clean, crystal-clear waters of various shades of mediterranean blue, crashes against rocks with resolute force, occasionally calms to serenity, or erupts into massive waves. The sound of waves permeates the air, while pounding waves offer an idyllic backdrop. Beaches abound, some adorned with golden sands, others with rocks sculpted by the relentless action of the waves. Many remain untouched by commercialization, offering a haven of solitude.

The vibrancy of Greece's larger cities contrasts with the tranquility of its villages. Even in the bustling city, the heart of its people often belongs to their village where relatives still live. The sea and the villages provide respite from the demands of urban life, a way to escape its superficiality. Organic architecture characterizes the villages, devoid of cookie-cutter subdivisions that reshape the land. Buildings blend seamlessly with the natural contours, evolving over time to meet the changing needs of families. Narrow streets harken back to a time before motorized vehicles. Because of the ever-shifting topography, walkways demand careful attention due to uneven surfaces and steps of differing heights.

History is another important dimension of a Greek experience. Evidences of human habitation dating back thousands of years before Christ are ever-present, humbling in their reminder of our fleeting presence in the grand scheme of time.

My short revisit to Greece left me with an inexplicable sense of longing and sadness. Perhaps it's the realization that this way of life, so deeply rooted in tradition and spirituality, is gradually fading in the face of modernity. There's an innate yearning within me for a more organic and natural existence, where the sacredness of the Orthodox Church infuses every aspect of life. It's a longing for a harmonious union of spirit, land, sea, clean air, and pure water—an existence that seems increasingly elusive in a world where villages have disappeared, family-run businesses have been replaced by corporate giants, and personal engagement has become a rarity.

Upon deeper reflection, I've come to understand that this longing and sadness are not merely for a better worldly way of life but, more profoundly, a yearning for a deeper connection with God. The Christian faith teaches us that our worldly experiences are but a preparation for the life to come. Despite life's challenges, it's a reminder that we are not in control. The challenges we face are gifts from God, opportunities for us to overcome self-centeredness, rely on the Holy Spirit, unite our will with His, and grow in humility and love for Him and others. Thus, this longing and sadness I experienced are a reflection of a deeper desire for union with God, to become embraced in His love, and a preparation for the life that awaits in His eternal kingdom.

Note: If you are planning a trip to Greece, try to avoid the larger cities or the many resorts that dot the seaside, and plan to venture out into the less traveled places, the sea coast areas that have not been overtaken by tourism. There are many apartments and small villas to rent and some seaside tavernas have rooms on the upper floors. They are all clean, well equipped, and have extremely friendly owners. Hospitality is a natural value of the Greek people. Visit the churches, the less popular beaches. Eat the traditional food offered in the tavernas. Rent a small car and don’t be afraid of the ever curving mountainous roads, but stay on the paved roads. Don’t worry about the language as almost everyone speaks some English. Relax, explore, and let the land, the sea, its people and churches nurture your soul.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

How to Organize a Daily Prayer According to Orthodox Traditions

As an Orthodox Christian, organizing a prayer according to tradition typically follows a structured format that includes specific elements and practices. (That said there is no one way to pray.) In prayer we should glorify God and give Him thanks, then offer petitions. Here’s a general outline for a beginning daily prayer:


Have a quiet and private place where you can focus on your prayers without distractions.

Light a candle or an oil lamp as a symbol of Christ's presence.

Begin with a short period of silence to calm your mind and heart. Make a few prostrations or metanias (low bow).


Begin by making the sign of the cross and saying a short prayer, such as "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

You can also recite the Trisagion prayer three times: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us."

Psalms and Scripture:

Read and meditate on a selection of Psalms or other Scriptural passages. The Psalms are often considered the prayer book of the Church and are widely used in Orthodox worship. Consider the Six morning psalms (3, 38, 63, 88, 103, 143) in the morning and the evening Psalms (70 and 143). Also, the Psalm 50 (Numbering according the the Septuagint.)

Concentrate on the words and their meaning.


Offer prayers for others, including your loved ones, friends, those in need, the Church, and the world.

You can use a prayer book or prayer list to guide you in specific intercessions.

The Lord's Prayer:

Recite the Lord's Prayer, also known as the "Our Father," as taught by Jesus in the Gospels.

Reflect on the meaning of each phrase and internalize its significance in your life.

Personal Petitions:

Express your personal needs, concerns, and gratitude to God.

Pour out your heart before Him and seek His guidance, healing, forgiveness, and strength.


Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving and a final sign of the cross.

You can also add a closing hymn or spiritual song if desired.

Once you have a habit of offering such a prayer every morning, then add a routine for the evening before you go to bed. In your evening prayer review the difficulties of the day and ask forgiveness.

Remember that this is a general outline, and you can personalize your prayers based on your spiritual needs and the guidance of your spiritual father or priest. It's important to approach prayer with humility, reverence, and a sincere heart, seeking a deep connection with God. Concentration is essential.

For more on Prayer go to this website:

Basics for Daily Prayer

Get the “Daily Readings” App that includes an Orthodox Prayer book

Saturday, September 23, 2023

How to Strengthen Our Relationship with God

Improving your relationship with God involves an ongoing transformative journey. 

You need a life firmly based on faith in the Gospel teachings along with a constant effort to overcome your struggles to become like Christ. This path involves embracing the practices and principles rooted in the Orthodox tradition and following the example of Jesus. Here are some key points that can help you move closer to God.

1. Deepen you faith by Studying the teachings of Christ found in Gospel stories. 

The necessary faith is developed through consistent study of the life and words of Jesus found in the New Testament. When you study them, read them as a story being told by eyewitnesses and about events that seem beyond reason. Not everything can be rationalized in what these writers experienced. In your study you will gain essential insights into the mystical nature of faith and develop a full understanding about Jesus’ character and virtues, particularly His meekness and humility. Christ, God born in flesh, is the fulfillment of the image that God has given all of us. Jesus being fully human, serves as an example for you to emulate as you navigate your own spiritual journey. As you read Scripture, you will encounter stories of God's magnificent works and witness His immense love revealed through His creation and the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the Cross. Contemplating the depth of God's love and the selflessness of Christ's sacrifice,  let this inspire you to respond with gratitude, awe, and a desire to return and imitate His love and humility in your own life.

2. Align your life with God’s commandments and the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. 

It is not enough to understand by reading Scripture what God expects of you. You must learn to become like Christ. You must learn to think like Him and act like Him. This may seem like an impossible task. This task is our purpose and the role of His Church is to help us. Your Orthodox faith places great importance on the Church as the Body of Christ and the sacramental life. You can organize your life so that you are actively participating in the sacraments, such as Holy Communion and Confession. Regular Church attendance with participation will strengthen your relationship through the Eucharist and the healing nature of Confession.. The sacraments are given to us through the work of the Hoy Spirit for the sole purpose to nourish your soul and facilitate your spiritual growth.

3. Acknowledge sin as the cause of your separation from God. 

Understanding your sinful nature is probably the most important thing to focus on to strengthen your relationship with God. Reflect on the story of Adam and Eve and how their disobedience separated them from God. Your sinfulness is what separates you from God. Recognizing the dire consequences of your way of life helps cultivate a repentant heart to reconcile with God. Since God is mercy and has unbounded love, He will forgive you and help you grow closer to Him. This is what He desires for everyone. Think of sin as missing the mark, which is the meaning of the Greek word translated as sin. When you are unable to live by the ideals exemplified in Jesus, you are involved in sin, missing the mark, not living up to what He expects of you.

4. Cultivate a spirit of repentance. 

We all miss the mark and the way to overcome each transgression in repentance. Repentance is the act of turning away from sinful behaviors and attitudes, and turning towards God with a contrite heart. By knowing that your sinful nature is what separates you from God, you will become motivated to repent. Repentance means changing your way of thinking to overcome your sinful tendencies and bad habits. Again this idea of change of mind is the meaning of the greek word translated as repentance. You first must acknowledge your shortcomings, then seeking God’s forgiveness and making a commitment to change, you will find that you grow closer to God. Everyday review your actions and seek repentance, ways to change how you think and act. Periodically participate in the Sacrament of Holy Confession, which cleans the slate with God, like in baptism, and you receive spiritual guidance from your spiritual father guided by the Holy Spirit. Also, as mentioned earlier, participate regularly in Holy Communion. In your daily prayers, another important Orthodox discipline, in addition to giving thanks and glorifying God, ask for the help of the Holly Spirit. Doing this you will open yourself gradually to the transformative work of God's grace, allowing Him in cooperation with your efforts, purify and renew your heart and give you needed strength to resist sinful tendencies. Jesus says that to see God requires a pure heart. This comes with a recognition of your sinfulness and repentance, a change of mind and action.

5. Strive to overcome your passions and bad habits. 

As you are awakened to you weaknesses, you begin to understand the nature of your sinfulness. The Church Fathers call these passions. Without your effort to seek them these will remain hidden from you, buried in an insensitive conscience. You will discover that there are many things in your daily life you thought were normal are actually incongruent with a life in Christ. View these discoveries as positive, leading you closer to God. We are all sinners, but only a few of us make the effort to come closer to God. Your efforts must involve more than your self effort. You need a cooperative effort with the Holy Spirit, calling for divine help in uncovering and combating your undesirable habits. Gradually you will be freeing yourself from them. Every time you step into the Nave of the Church you are entering a sacred space filled with the direct presence of the Holy Spirit. Call on it for help. The Church is where we worship God and receive the mysteries, the purifying gifts of His Body and Blood through Holy Communion. Participate! Also, through the other spiritual disciplines taught by the Church: daily prayer, fasting and the cultivation of virtues.  In this way you will become an active participant in your spiritual growth improving your relationship with God.

6. Improve your Personal discipline.

God will not work alone, but He works with you. He may awaken you to your need to act, but waits for you to respond. This means you must become intentional in all your choices, keeping God in mind, aligning your will with His principles and teachings, even when faced with challenges or temptations faced in daily life. This self-effort extends to various aspects of life, such as making time for pryer and worship, guarding your thoughts, and exercising self-control over all your actions. You make life intentional. The ascetic practices of fasting and daily prayer and regular worship help. By cultivating personal discipline, we enable ourselves to act in cooperation with God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

7. Tame your mind by practicing watchfulness. 

Watchfulness involves being vigilant and mindful of your thoughts, desires, and actions. This involves recognizing before you act the subtle temptations that can lead you astray. This is work that takes place in your mind. It is also called guarding your heart, protecting it from distractions and worldly temptations that may lead you to act by your sinful tendencies. As you become more watchful you will develop a deeper sensitivity to the way excel forces work on you and how God can help. When you gain this ability you will avoid most temptations, allowing you to respond with obedience to God and align your will with His. 

8. Learn the practice of Love

One of our modern day saints, Saint Porphyrios, taught that love is the means through which you unite with God and experience His presence in your life. He stressed that true love is expressed in humility, allowing you to genuinely care for others without seeking recognition or expecting anything in return. By humbling yourself and placing the needs of others above our own, you emulate the selfless love of Christ and deepen your relationship with God. He taught that through acts of love and compassion, you not only benefit others, but you will also experience spiritual healing and transformation. Love has the power to mend broken relationships, reconcile hearts, and restore harmony in your life. He emphasized the importance of cultivating unconditional love towards all people, regardless of their background, beliefs, or actions. He taught that love should be your default response, as it reflects the love of God Himself. By embracing this radical love, you will grow closer to God and experience His transformative grace.

Strengthening your relationship with God involves a lifelong journey requiring commitment and perseverance. 

With faith in God, the life of Christ, His loving nature and His desire for us to become like him, you begin this journey. Awakening to how you frequently miss the mark in your daily life, and that these little sinful acts are what separates you from God, you can begin a new life of repentance. Consistently participating in the sacramental life of the Church, developing better personal discipline and watchfulness, and doing better at loving others, in cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit you can progress, step-by-step, day-by-day. The Church is the body of Christ established to nurture along this path to becoming like Christ, a union with Him, Theosis.

Also, be sure to seek and follow the advice of a spiritual father. He will guide you in implementing these practices into your daily life.