Orthodox Spiritual Life (Part VII)

Icon of the Mother of God "the God Loving"

Icon of the Mother of God "the God Loving"

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.

Today's Synaxarion: The Holy Martyrs Isaurus, Basil, Innocent, Hermias, Felix, and Peregrinus. The Holy Martyrs, Sabel, and Ishmael. By their intercessions, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

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ORTHODOX SPIRITUAL LIFE: METHODS AND MEANS OF DEFENSE WATCHFULNESS
By Saint Silouan the Athonite

This specific technique of inner attentiveness to 'logismoi' is also referred to as 'watchfulness.' In the original Greek, the word is 'nipsis' (νήψις), with the corresponding verb being 'nipho' (νήφω). In ancient usage the word means 'to be sober or to drink no wine' and may also take on the metaphorical meaning 'to be self-controlled.' In the New Testament, the term is used more in this figurative sense meaning to "to be free from every form of mental and spiritual 'drunkenness', from excess, passion, etc." The Holy Apostle Peter writes, "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober {νήφοντες}..." and "...the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful {νήψαντες} in your prayers," (1 Peter 1:13 and 1 Peter 4:7), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8) (cf. 1 Thess. 5:6, "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober {νήφωμεν}."

In Patristic writings the Holy Fathers follow this Apostolic Tradition where the term 'nipsis' (νήψις) again conveys the sense of 'sober-mindedness.' However, for most Holy Fathers 'nipsis' conveys an even more distinct association with spiritual warfare, referring directly to the virtue of "vigilance or alertness" against evil thoughts or 'logismoi.' In the famous Patristic collection of spiritual writings knows as the Philokalia, the Holy Fathers who wrote specifically on this theme of watchfulness or attentiveness to one's thoughts are referred to as the 'niptic' Fathers'. In fact, the full title of the Philokalia in Greek could be translated literally as the 'Philokalia of the holy niptics' (Φιλοκαλία τών Ιερών Νηπτικών).

One of these writers, Saint Hesychios the Priest, defines 'nipsis' or watchfulness as a 'spiritual method.' ("Watchfulness is a spiritual method which, if sedulously practiced over a long period, completely frees us with God's help from impassioned thoughts, impassioned words and evil actions.' (St. Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness 1, Philokalia, vol. 1, p. 162). The term 'watchfulness' is often used in context with military terminology. One of the more common analogies employed when referring to watchfulness is that of guarding or setting a watch over one's heart. Watchfulness is therefore a 'method' of spiritual discipline through inner attentiveness and prayer. As a technique of spiritual warfare, the purpose of watchfulness is to take note of every thought that comes to the believer. This then enables him to reject instantly any vain and unproductive thought or 'logismos' attempting to attack, encroach on and ultimately capture his heart. ["Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flows the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23. Saint Hesychios the Priest also writes, "Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart...If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare." On Watchfulness and Holiness 6, The Philokalia, vol. 1, p. 163.] Thus, watchfulness is the guarding of the heart from intrusive 'logismoi' that attempt to take away one's inner peace and lure the mind from the prayer.

(Next: The Jesus Prayer)

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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

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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

+Father George