My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
QUALIFICATIONS FOR THEOSIS (DEIFICATION)
by Archimandrite George Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou (Saint Gregroy) Mount Athos, Greece
The Holy Fathers certainly say that within the Church we can attain Theosis (Deification). But at the same time they say Theosis (Deification) is a gift from God, it is not something we can attain on our own. Of course, we must desire, struggle, and prepare ourselves so that we are worthy, capable, and receptive enough to accept and guard this great gift from God, since God does not wish to do anything to us without our freedom, but at the same time, Theosis (Deification) is a gift from God; so therefore the holy Fathers say, on the one hand, that we undergo Theosis (Deification), and on the other hand, that God acts in Theosis (Deification). From this we discern certain qualifications that are necessary on the path of man to Theosis (Deification). These are:
According to the holy Fathers, the first necessary qualification is humility. Without blessed humility, man cannot be put on the right course for Theosis (Deification), cannot accept the Divine grace and so unite with God. Simply to acknowledge that Theosis (Deification) is the purpose of our life demands humility, because without humility, how will you acknowledge that the purpose of your life is outside yourself; that is in God?
So long as man lives egocentrically, anthropocentrically, autonomously, he places himself at the centre and purpose of his own life. He believes that he can be perfected by his own efforts, defined by his own efforts; deified by his own efforts. This is the spirit of contemporary civilization, contemporary philosophy, contemporary politics: to create an even better world, even more just, but to do this autonomously, by oneself; to create a world which will have man at its centre with no reference to God; with no acknowledgment that God is the source of all good. This is the fault that Adam committed, believing that, with only his own powers, he could become god, could complete himself. The fault of Adam is one that all humanistic creeds make throughout all the ages. They do not consider that communion with God is indispensable for the completion of man.
Everything Orthodox is theanthropically centered; its center is the God-man Christ. Everything that is not Orthodox has this common denominator: its center is man, whether it is Protestantism, Papism, freemasonry.
Millenarianism (Jehovah's Witness), atheism, or whatever else is outside Orthodoxy. For us, the center is the God-man Christ. This means it is easy for someone to become a heretic, a Millenarianist (Jehovah's Witness), a Mason or whatever else, but it is difficult to become an Orthodox Christian. To become an Orthodox Christian, you must first accept that the center of the world is not yourself but Christ.
Thus, the beginning of the path towards Theosis (Deification) is humilty, i.e., that we acknowledge that the purpose of our life is outside us; that it is with our Father, our Maker and Creator.
Again, to persist on this path, someone who begins the path of Theosis (Deification) must have constant humility, for if he accepts the thought that he manages perfectly well just by using his own powers, then pride enters him; he loses what he has gained and must start gain from the beginning; to become humble, to see his weakness, his human sickness, and learn not to rely on himself. In order to find himself continuously on the path of Theosis (Deification), he needs to depend on the grace of God.
Therefore, in the lives of the Saints, their great humility impresses us. While they were near God, they shone within the Light of God; they were miracle-workers; they gave off myrrh; yet at the same time they believed about themselves that they were very lowly, very far from God, that they were the worst of men. It was this humility of theirs that made them gods by Grace.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in Christ's Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God