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 ) [Part II]
by Archimandrite George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou (St. Gregory) on Mount Athos, Greece
The Holy Fathers also tell us that Theosis has stages. It begins from the lowest and progresses to the highest. Once we have humility, in order to become cleansed from the passions we start our asceticism by applying the holy commandment of Christ, beginning our daily struggle in Christ with repentance and much patience. The Holy Fathers say that within His commandments God Himself lies hidden. When a Christian observes them out of love and faith in Christ, then he unites with Him.
According to the Holy Fathers, this first stage of Theosis is also called "praxis." This is practical guidance given at the start of the path towards Theosis (Deification).
Naturally, this is not at all easy, because the struggle to uproot the passions from within us is great. Much effort is required, so that gradually our inner wasteland is cleansed from the thorns and stones of the passions so that it can be cultivated spiritually, and so that the seed of God's logos may fall and bear fruit. Great and continuous effort towards ourselves is necessary for all this. Therefore the Lord said that "the Kingdom of God suffers violence, so the violent seize it" (St. Matthew 11:12). And again, the Holy Fathers teach us: "Give blood and receive Spirit," i.e., you cannot receive the Holy Spirit if you do not give the blood of your heart to the struggle to cleanse yourself from the passions, in order to repent really and in depth, and in order to acquire the virtues.
All the virtues are aspects of the one great virtue, the virtue of love. When a Christian acquires love, he has all the virtues. It is love that expels the prime cause of all the evils and all the passions form the psyche (soul) of man. This cause, according to the Holy Fathers is selfishness, which is a diseased love for one's own self. This is why our Church has asceticism. Without asceticism, there is no spiritual life, no struggle, and no progress. We obey, fast, keep vigil, labor with prostrations, and stand upright, all, so that we may be cleansed of our passions. If the Orthodox Church ceases to be ascetical, it ceases to be Orthodox, because then it ceases to help man rid himself of his passions in order to become gods by Grace.
The Holy Church Fathers developed a great profound anthropological teaching on the psyche (soul) and the passions of man. According to them, in the psyche (soul) you can distinguish intelligent and passible parts. The passible, again, comprises passionate and desiring parts. The intelligent part contains the reasoning powers of the psyche (soul); the thoughts and cognitive powers of the psyche (soul); the thoughts and cognitive powers. The passionate parts are the positive and negative emotions; love and hate. The desiring part contains the good desires of the virtues and the bad desires for pleasure; for enjoyment, avarice, gluttony, the worship of the flesh and the carnal passions. Unless these three parts of the psyche (soul), the intelligent, the passionate, and the desiring, are cleansed, man cannot receive the grace of God within himself, and cannot be deified (Theosis). The intelligent part is cleansed by watchfulness, which is the continuous guarding of the nous from thoughts, keeping the good thoughts and rejecting the bad. The passionate part, again, is cleansed by love. Finally, the desiring part is cleansed by self-control. All these parts are both cleansed and sanctified by prayer.
Next: (3) The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and Prayer
"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