Experiences of the Grace of God

Virginmartyr Susanna

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


PSALM 144 (145)

I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your Name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your Name fore and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation and shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and I shall sing of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your Saints shall bless You, they shall speak of the glory of Your Kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord upholds all who call, and raises us all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His Holy Name forever and ever.

(Please note: Verse 2 is part of the Great Doxology at the close of Sunday Matins (Orthros). Verses 15, 16 are frequently used in the Monasteries as a giving of thanks before meals. In Patristic literature we find the holy Fathers of the Church interpreting "Your works" (v.10) as referring to the Incarnation, and the "generations" (v. 13) as referring to the Church.)



By Archmandrite George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios of Mt. Athos (source: Experiences of the Grace of God)

Which are the experiences of the Grace that the Christian can receive, so that the faith and the Christian life are not something intellectual and external for him, but a true spiritual feeling of God, a communion with God, a familiarity with God, in which the whole man partakes?

An experience of God is, first of all, an inner assurance that through faith in God, the Christian finds the true meaning of his life. He feels that his faith in Christ is a faith that satisfies him internally, that gives meaning to his life and guides him, that is a strong light which enlightens him. When he thus feels the Christian faith inside him, he has started to live the Grace of God. God is not something external for him.

Man receives another experience of the Grace of God when he hears in his heart the invitation of God when he hears in his heart the invitation to God to repent for his obscure and sinful deeds and to return to the Christian life, to confess, to enter the path of God. This voice of God that he hears inside him is a first experience of the Grace of God. For the many years that he lived away from God, he did not understand anything.

He starts to repent, he confesses for the first time in his life to a spiritual father. After confession he feels deep peace and joy, such as he has never felt before in his life. And then he says, "I am relived." This relief is the visitation of the Divine Grace in a soul that has repented and which God wants to console.

The tears of the repentance a Christian when he prays and asks for forgiveness from God or when he confesses are tears of repentance. These tears bring great relief. They bring much peace to man's soul and then man feels that these are a gift and experience of the Divine Grace.

The deeper man repents and the more love he has for God and prays with a divine eros, the more those tears of repentance becomes tears of joy, tears of love and of divine eros. These tears that are superior to the tears of repentance are also a higher visitation and an experience of the Grace of God.

Having repented and confessed, with fasting and spiritual preparation we come forward to partake of the Body and the Blood of Christ. What do we feel after Holy Communion? Deep peace in our soul, spiritual joy. This also is an experience and a visitation of the Grace of God.

At other times, during prayer or divine worship or Divine Liturgy, we feel unspeakable joy. This is also a visitation of the divine Grace and an experience of God. However, there are other, still higher experiences of God. The highest experience of God is the vision of the Uncreated Light. This is the Light the Lord's disciples saw on the Mount of Tabor during the Transfiguration of Christ. They saw Christ shining like the sun with a heavenly and divine Light which was not material nor created light as is the sun and the other created lights. It was Uncreated Light, the Light of God, the Light of the Holy Trinity.

Those who are completely purified from their passions and from sin and pray with true and pure prayer are rendered worthy of this great experience of seeing the Light of God in the present life. This is the Light which will shine in eternal life, and not only do they see it from now but they, too, are seen within it from now because this Light surrounds the Saints. We do not see it, but the pure in heart and the holy do. The halo (photostephano or 'the crown of Light') around the Saint's faces is the Light of the Holy Trinity which has enlightened and sanctified them.

In the life of Saint Basil the Great, we see that when Saint Basil prayed in his cell, he and the whole cell were totally illumined by the Uncreated Light which shone on him. We witness this in the lives of many other Saints too. Therefore, to be rendered worthy to see the Uncreated Light is one of the highest experiences of God, not granted to everyone but to a very few, to those who have advanced in the spiritual life. According to Abba (Father) Isaac, in every generation just about only one person manages to see clearly the Uncreated Light (Discourse 32). However, even today there are holy Christians that are rendered worthy of having this unique experience of God.

Of course we must say that each one who sees a light, does not necessarily see the Uncreated Light. The devil deceives men and shows them other lights, demonic or psychological, to make them think it is the Uncreated Light, although it is not. For this reason, every Christian who has a vision or hears a voice or has an experience must not accept it as of God because he might be deceived by the devil. Rather, he must confess it to his spiritual father who will tell him if it is of God or from delusion and from the demons. Much attention is needed on this subject.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George

P.S. Dear parishioners remember that on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week at 7:00 p.m. the Paraklesis (Supplication) holy service to the Mother of God will take place at St. Andrew. Wednesday the Great Vespers (Megas Esperinos) will take place at our Holy Dormition (Koimisis) of the Theotokos Chapel in New Carlisle at 7:00 p.m. Followed by the Artoklasia (the Blessing of the Five Loaves) and the Lamentations (Engomia) to the Theotokos and Epitaphio. Thurday Orthors (Matins) at 9:00 a.m. and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. This coming Sunday August 18th Divine Services (Orthros or Divine Liturgy) will take place at our Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Chapel: Orthros at 9:30am and Divine Liturgy at 10:30am followed by the Annual Parish Picnic on the Chapel grounds.