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.
THEOSIS: THE TRUE PURPOSE OF HUMAN LIFE
by Archimandrite George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou (Saint Gregory) Monastery on Mt. Athos (Holy Mountain), Greece
Consequences of Guidance for Theosis
The guidance that our Orthodox Church offers, with the Holy Services, Patristic Theology, Monasticism, is theanthropocentric guidance. Its center is the God-Man Christ, and it leads to Theosis (Deification). This brings great joy into our life when we know what a great destiny we have, and what blessedness awaits us. To set our sights on Theosis (Deification) sweetens the pain in every trial and all the worries of life. When we are struggling towards the aim of Theosis, that is to say, when we see one another as prospective gods, our attitude towards our fellow men changes for the better. How much deeper and more substantial will be the guidance which we will then give our children! In what a God-pleasing way a father and mother will then love and respect their children, feeling the responsibility and holy charge which they have towards them; how much will they then help them, by the Grace of God, to attain Theosis, the purpose for which they brought them into the world! And how will they naturally help them, if they themselves are not oriented towards that purpose, towards Theosis (Deification)? How much more respect will we have for ourselves when we feel that we have been molded for this great purpose; when we are without the egotism and pride which opposes God!
Certainly, the Holy Fathers and great Theologians of the Church say that it is in this way, by overcoming our self-love and the anthropocentric philosophy of egotism; that we become real people, true men. Then we will meet God with reverence and love, but also meet our fellow man with respect and true dignity not seeing him as a tool of pleasure and exploitation, but as an icon of God destined for Theosis.
As long as we are closed within ourselves--within our ego--we are individuals but not persons. Once we exit from our closed individual existence and begin, in agreement with this guidance based on Theosis, with the Grace of God, but also with our own cooperation (synergy)--to love, to offer ourselves all the more to Him and to our neighbor, we become true persons. This is to say that when our ego encounters the Thou of God, and the "you" of our brother, then we begin to find lost self. For, within the communion in Theosis for which we were molded, we are able to open up, to communicated, to really enjoy one another...and not only to a selfish way.
This is the ethos of the Divine Liturgy, in which we learn to overcome the narrow, atomistic interest to which the devil, our sins, and our passions compel us, and instead learn to open up to a communion of sacrifice and love in Christ.
An awareness of this great calling of his, i.e., of Theosis, comforts and really completes man.
The Orthodox humanism of our Church is based on this great calling of man, and therefore it develops all his powers to the extreme.
What other form of humanism, however progressive and liberal it may appear, is as revolutionary as that of the Church which is able to make man a god? Only the humanism of the Church reaches so high.
Today especially, when so many attempt to deceive the people, and in particular the young, by projecting false humanism which in effect maim man and do not complete him, the emphasis given in this guidance of the Church has great importance.
Consequences of Guidance That Does Not Lead to Theosis
Today, young people seek experiences. They are not content with a materialistic life; nor with the rationalistic society that we their elders hand down to them. Our children, being icons of God, "called to be gods," seek something beyond the logical forms of the materialistic philosophy and atheistic education we offer to them. They seek experiences of true life. And, certainly, it is not sufficient for them to be told about God. They desire experience of Him, of His Light, of His Grace. Many of them search in vain, resorting to many cheap substitutes to find something outside or beyond logic because they do not know that the Church has both the ability to comfort them and the experience they thirst for. Others are led to Oriental mysticisms such as yoga; yet others to occultism or Gnosticism, and finally, unfortunately, even to outright Satanism. Even in morality they do not know any boundary, for morality, once severed from its essence and deprived of its purpose, which is to united them with Holy God, ends up by having absolutely no meaning...
"Today, out of selfless love, many Shepherds of our Holy Orthodox Church; bishops, priests, spiritual fathers, and lay brothers, devote themselves daily to the guidance to our youth towards the aim of Theosis (Deification). We are grateful to them for their sacrifice and offering: for this God-pleasing work of theirs, with which, by the Grace of God, psyches (souls) for whom Christ died are saved and sanctified.
Humbly, the Holy Mountain (composed of approximately of 22 monasteries and hundreds of monks) helps and assists in this great distress of the Church. The Garden of our Panagia (Theotokos), being a special place of sanctity and silence dedicated to God, savors the blessing of Theosis, lives communion with God, and has intense and vivid experience of His Grace and His Light, so that many of our fellow men, the majority of them young, benefit from and are strengthened and reborn in Christ by a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, or by maintaining more specific connections with it. In this way, people enjoy God in their life, and begin to understand what Orthodox Christianity is, what Christian life is, what spiritual struggle is, and what holy and great meaning these things give to their existence. This is to say, they taste something of this great gift of God to man, Theosis (Deification).
Let all of us, Shepherds of the Church; theologians; catechists; not forget about guidance for Theosis, by which the young people, with all we who are humble, with the Grace of God and within our daily struggle, the struggle of repentance and observance of His Holy Commandments, acquire the possibility of enjoying this blessing of God, this union with Him, to enjoy it very strongly in this life, but also to gain eternal happiness and blessedness.
Let us continually thank the Holy Lord for the Gift of Theosis (Deification), which is a gift of His love. Let us reciprocate His love with our own love. The Lord wants and desires us to be deified (theosis). After all, for this purpose He became man and died upon the Cross so that He shine as the Sun amidst suns, and God amidst gods.
Personal note: I pray that you found the wonderful article, Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life, spiritually educational and most inspiring. No other religion and no other Christian tradition has the spiritual depth that the Holy Orthodox Church has. Many people today speak about "spirituality" but do not know true spirituality which is found only in the Orthodox Christian Tradition. True spirituality is Theosis! The Orthodox Christian's aim and goal is to achieve Theosis (Deification) while here on earth. Theosis=Salvation=Kingdom of God.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God