My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
PRAYER AS INFINITE CREATION
by Archmandrite ZACHARIAS (Zacherou) (Source: The Hidden Man of the Heart)
...The words of the Apostle are fulfilled: "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). Every energy, of joy or sadness, is transformed into the energy of repentance; sufferings become material for prayer and expression of love (cf., 2 Corinthians 7:10; James 5:13).
According to Fr. Sophrony, unless he encounters the Living God, man cannot learn the knowledge necessary for the transformation of his psychological states into spiritual experiences, at least, not in any deep ontological sense. Love alone has the power to render every state he experiences in life, be it pleasant or painful, into something that is beneficial and easy to bear. Every such transformation contributes to his recovery of eternity, which itself becomes the actual living content of man according to his development as a hypostasis. Fr. Sophrony maintains that 'all our many-sided experiences of life, the whole world-system that contributes to our cognition, must serve to prepare us for a personal encounter with [God].' We meet with the same teaching in embryonic form in the Desert Fathers. They explain that this change is effected by the use of every sensation or energy received from the created world in the turning of one's attention to the remembrance of God. If a man possesses the knowledge which is granted to those who have the mind of Christ, he transmutes the finite earthly energies that assail him into such energy as he can use to intensify his dialogue with God: he 'brings every thought into captivity for obedience to [and love of] Christ'. But unless he is educated by the grace of God, man cannot be nourished by the 'solid food' of God-pleasing sufferings, nor can his faculties be trained to discern the righteousness of the Cross, which alone leads to the Kingdom of Heaven (cf., Hebrews 5:14). And such training is given by Christ Himself, Who accepted persecution and the smiting of death as the Cup of the Father, to Whom He prayed without turning His attention to those who were crucifying Him. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him Who judges rightly and prayed: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (St. Luke 23:34).
In repentance on the psychological level, man offers his freedom and his will as a sacrifice to God. God accepts this sacrifice and recompenses man with grace, which enables him to overcome the limits of his earthly existence and to enter into the stream of His eternity. This ontological change is a revelation to man, and his spirit is captivated by a new depth of prayer, which leads him definitively beyond the narrow prison of this world into the liberty of God's infinity. On the last page of his writings, Saint Silouan describes the effects of this revelation with the simplicity that so characterizes his authenticity. As he puts it, man is captured by the love of God: 'All day, all night, my soul is taken up with Thee, O Lord...No earthly thing can occupy my thoughts-my soul desires only the Lord' (Saint Silouan, p. 504).
The radical event of man's renewal by Divine Light and his transition from the psychological to the ontological level of existence does not, however, signify a permanent state in this present life. While it affords true knowledge of God's merciful condescension to man on the one hand, yet, on the other, it brings man's despicable nothingness firmly home to him. The vision of God's eternal Holiness floods the soul with hitherto unknown gratitude and strength, but at the same time man is challenged by unbearable horror at his spiritual poverty, for he now knows how grave would be his failure to fulfill his pre-eternal destiny, which is to be united with the God of love for all eternity. The feeling of Christ's pure love, which is imparted with the vision of His image, brings a totally different kind of repentance, a fuller repentance which engages the whole of man's being. The light of grace helps man to go deeper into the mystery of his spiritual poverty, and he turns away from himself, shedding bitter tears for his uselessness. He is in complete despair over himself, but at the same time he trusts fully in God, "who raiseth the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:9). Such despair is charismatic for it gives energy and wings to prayer so as to bring the whole of man's being into the sphere of the eternal spirit. The upward surge of the spirit is also imparted to the body, which so thirsts for the living God. This signifies the sanctification of the body, which is reinforced with grace so as to bear divine love.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God