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.
ILLUMINATION AND GLORIFICATION: UNCEASING PRAYER AND THE VISION OF CHRIST
By Father Alexis (Trader)
"When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:4)
According to Saint Paul, the foundation stones of the Church are those who have reached a state of glorification (perfection or deification [theosis]) and in whom the entire Church rejoices. Here, it is important to realize that Saint Paul is not using the term "glorified" metaphorically for praise or honor by men (which is no reason for a Christian to rejoice), but ontologically "partakers of the Divine Glory" and consequently have both beheld the glorified Christ and "received from His fullness." They are the Apostles or Prophets among whom Saint Paul numbers himself without separating himself from those who pray in the heart (kind of tongues). The essential trait that distinguishes an Apostle or a Prophet is neither "missionary activity" nor "forecasting capabilities," but an experience of revelation granted to a properly illumined vessel, a vision of Christ that transfigures the one who beholds Him. This St. Paul summarizes in Ephesians (3:5) as the mystery of Christ "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit." As the glorified Christ was fully revealed by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on Pentecost thus leading them to all Truth, in like manner is Christ now revealed to the Prophets of the New Covenant (Testament).
As important as the prayer of the heart (Jesus Prayer) is in the process of man's healing and illumination, it is neither the goal of the Christian life nor the complete healing of man's soul, for although those who pray in the heart (not be their own effort, but with a prayer activated by the graceof the Holy Spirit) are in a state of illumination and may have even acquired some of the other gifts, they can still fall into pride and thus become "a sounding brass" or "nothing." The complete healing takes place with the vision of Christ in glory that grants perfect love which never fails and which Saint Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." This love (agape), however, must not be confused with sentimentality nor with mere ethical perfectionism. It is rather the highest gift of the Holy Spirit. It entails man's complete self-emptying (kenosis) through keeping Christ's Commandments to the point of the Cross being perfected in "his face to face encounter with Christ" in glory through the Holy Spirit. Only in this way, can man become one with God and "like" God "Who is love." Obedience to Christ's Commandments directs man to this perfect love. Strengthened by grace, man implements the commandments and again by grace gradually grows in love, until Christ loves him and reveals Himself to him granting him perfect love that never fails. This is what He Himself said to His holy Apostles, "he that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (St. John 14:21).
At this point, Saint Paul speaks even more concretely about the stages of illumination and glorification and the operation of the gifts at each stage. Saint Nikitas comments, "the mature and the perfect, having attained the summit of God's love and knowledge, cease from exercising partial gifts, whether of prophecy, or of distinguishing between spirits, or of helping, or of governing, and so on. Once you enter the palace of love, you no longer know in part the God, who is love (agape), but, conversing with Him face to face, you understand Him fully even as you yourself are fully understood by Him." The state of glorification or deification (theosis) that is reached in the vision of Christ in the Holy Spirit is not relegated to the safely remote region of life after death, but is a reality experienced in this life. This is clearly revealed in the lives of Saint Paul, Saint Stephen the First Martyr, Saint John the Theologian, and the countless hosts of Saints throughout the centuries who have progressed through the same stages of purification, illumination until they reached that of deification (theosis). The words, "but we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the Angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor" (Hebrews 2:9), in The Epistle (Letter) to the Hebrews are not metaphorical, nor expression for the Church's witness to the resurrection, but the common experience of the believer whose heart has been fully healed and is thus reckoned with the Saints, the perfected members of the Church (those in a state of glorification or deification [theosis]).
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!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God