My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR M IDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THEOSIS: THE PURPOSE OF HUMAN LIFE
by Archimandrites George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou (St. Gregory) Mount Athos (Holy Mountain) Greece
The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and Prayer
Christ installs Himself in the heart of man through the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments): Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation, Holy Confession and the Divine Eucharist. Those Orthodox Christians who are in communion with Christ have God and His Grace within them, in their hearts, because they have been baptized, chrismated, have confessed and have received Holy Communion.
The passions cover Divine Grace as ashes bury a spark. Through asceticism and prayer, the heart is cleansed of the passions, the spark of Divine Grace is rekindled, and the faithful Christian feels Christ in his heart; the center of his existence.
Every prayer of the Church helps to cleanse the heart, but the so-called prayer of a single-phrase, also known as noetic prayer or prayer of the heart, is particularly helpful: "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." This prayer, which has always been handed down on the Holy Mountain, has the following advantage: because it is only one sentence it helps us to concentrate our nous more easily. Concentrating our nous, we immerse it in our heart, and then pay attention to make sure it is not busy there with other things and ideas, good or bad; that it is busy only with God.
[Please note: Kingdom of God (Βασιλεία του Θεού - Vasileia tou Theou)
The Kingdom of God means, the "Rule of God," and also the "Ruling power of God;" although all pervading and ever-present, it is spiritual and beyond all sensible and intelligible categories. The Kingdom of God also refers to our participation in the divine life of the Holy Trinity, making the chosen person through Grace what God is by nature. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are synonymous.
Saint Symeon the New Theologian describes it in the following way, "for those who become children of light and sons of the day to come, for those who always walk in the light, the Day of the Lord will never come, for they are already with God and in God."
Heart (καρδία - kardia)
The heart is a biblical word little understood these days, yet it has a truly profound dimension. The heart is where union with God may be consummated; as such it has a spiritual dimension. More than an emotional center or a physical organ, the heart is a receptacle for all good and evil. The heart is our psychosomatic (psycho=soul, somatic+body) center, the deepest and most profound part of our being: it is our "inner nous;" out of which the energies of psyche (soul) issue forth.
There is a close connection between the nous, the psyche (soul), the heart, and the "inner man."
The practice in this prayer of the heart, which with God's Grace may in time become continuous, is a whole science, a holy art which the Saint of our Faith describe in detail in their holy writings, and also in a large collection of Patristic texts called the "philokalia."
This prayer helps and gladdens man, and when the Christian progresses in this prayer and at the same time his life follows the Holy Commandments of Christ and His Church, then he is worthy to receive the experience of Divine Grace. He starts to taste the sweetness of communion with God, to know from experience "O taste and see the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). For us Orthodox Christians, God is not an idea, something that we think about, that we discuss or read about, but a person with whom we come into living and personal communion. It is something we live, and somebody from whom we receive experience.
Then we see a great, unspeakable and inexpressible joy it is to have Christ within us and to be Orthodox Christians.
Within their different concerns and every day occupations, it helps Christians who are in the world so much to find a least a few minutes of silence to exercise themselves in this prayer.
Certainly, when fulfilled with humility and love, all labors and obligations directed to God sanctify us, but prayer is also required.
In a quiet room (perhaps after some spiritual reading, or after lighting a small oil lamp in front of the holy icons and burning incense), as far as possible away from noise and activity, and after other considerations and thoughts have fallen quiet, they should sink their nous into the heart by saying the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." How much peace and strength the psyche (soul) draws from the silence of God! How much this strengthens them during the day so that they can keep themselves peaceful without nervous tension and anxiety, but have all their forces united in harmony!
Some people in other places seek silence of the psyche (soul) by using artificial means that are deluded and demonic, as in the so-called Oriental religions. They try to find a certain silence by using external exercises, meditation etc, to achieve a certain balance of psyche and body. The fault in all these is that properly speaking, even when man tries to forget the various considerations of the material world he does not have a dialogue with God, but only a monologue with himself, so that once again he ends up in anthropocentrism, and in this way he fails.
Next: Experiences of Theosis
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God