Orthodox Spiritual Life (Part IX)

Apostle Jude the Brother of the Lord

Apostle Jude the Brother of the Lord

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 COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On June 19th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates the following Saints: Saint Jude (Thaddeus) the Holy Apostle and Brother of Our Lord; Saint Paisios the Great; All Saints of Russia; All Saints of Mount Athos.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

"God has planted us on this earth not for our own sake, but for His glory" (Saint John Chrysostom).

___________________________________________________

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY: THE DANGER OF DELUSION
By Saint Silouan the Athonite

One must be fully aware of the dangers and pitfalls awaiting him along the path of prayer. The enemy (Satan) has at his disposal a variety of devious traps that serve as spiritual 'land mines'. Chief among these ploys is the passion of pride in one's own progress. Pride can only darken and delude the soul. If left to fester, such pride can evolve to the point where the soul seeks after and even expects to be granted divine visions and other such spiritual experiences in prayer. Ironically, the believer is thus duped into thinking that he is growing closer to God, when in reality he has fallen into the churches of the evil one.

Saint Silouan warns against this dangerous demonic tactic of spiritual delusion, "the conceited man…wants to have visions, and deems himself worthy of them, and so it is easy for the enemy to delude him." The inexperienced believer is especially tricked into thinking that he has made a certain amount of progress; thus, he is more gullible and open to the suggestion of having attained a new level of wisdom and knowledge. If he has been granted certain spiritual experiences, whether to a greater or lesser degree, these then seem to validate his new level of progress. At times he may also be deceived into thinking that since he is somewhat more advanced than others, he must be more special in God's eyes. [Saint Silouan, "We fall and are beguiled when we think ourselves more intelligent and more practiced than others...In my inexperience I thought this once, and suffered for it" (Saint Silouan the Athonite, p. 444). In extreme cases, demons may also appear as angels of light, who through their deception can lead into the abyss of spiritual pride and delusion, leading ultimately to alienation from God. This is why Saint Silouan forewarns--do not seek visions, and certainly never trust one.

Deception by means of a delusory vision is a popular ploy of the enemy. Even many well-intentioned believers are easily caught up in the quest for visions or dreams. The believer must always bear in mind the true goal of spiritual life. He must not seek after such spiritual experiences, but only mercy and love of God.

The traps set by the enemy (Satan) are most difficult to avoid. Many people fall victim to spiritual delusion, and often the struggle to recover is great. In discussing delusion, Saint Silouan refers to the causes for such a fall. The fall into delusion is due either to a lack of experience or from pride. When one falls from lack of experience, it is easier to recover. But when one falls on account of pride, then it is much more difficult to be restored to spiritual health.

The passion of pride seduced even Lucifer, who was created as the greatest and most glorious Angel (See Isaiah 14:12-14). Pride is thus the primordial cause of the Fall. Infiltrating even unto the heights of the Angelic hosts, pride remains the main cause of man's sin and his separation from God. However, whereas the fall of Lucifer and his fallen angels is now fixed and stabilized, man is offered the opportunity to be healed and renewed.

It is interesting to see how Saint Silouan recalls his own personal experience of having been deluded on two separate occasions. The first time he fell into spiritual delusion was when he was a novice, and this was on account of his inexperience. The second time, however, was on account of his pride after he accepted a vision. He then suffered greatly. Saint Silouan describes how he escaped the grasp of the enemy, stressing the important role of the spiritual father and Holy Confession. ["I was beguiled by vanity and began to see devils...Then I knew that I had been deceived, and I made full disclosure to my confessor and asked him for his prayers, and to because of his prayers I am now saved and ever beseech the Lord to grant me the spirit of humility…in which the Lord rejoices above all things" (Saint Silouan the Athonite, p. 432).]

____________________________________________

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

+Father George