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 ΕΝΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE GRACE OF GOD: HOW CAN ONE KNOW WHETHER HE HAS ACQUIRED PERFECT GRACE
by Saint Paisius Velichkovsky
LITTLE RUSSIAN PHILOKALIA (Philokalia means "love of the beautiful and good.")
Where there is grace, the fount of life, there good works come from the heart. When the Holy Spirit visits, any labor becomes easy, unceasing prayer flows from the heart, and the eyes continuously shed tears. This may be accompanied by spiritual enlightenment and pure, sober reasoning for it is then that the Holy Spirit acts within a man (person). Anyone given to passions, however, generates more passions within himself, thus allowing the evil spirit to take hold of his soul, rendering it dark and heavy.
The question as to who is holy, i.e., experiences the above manifestations of grace, may be answered as follows: the one who in all immaculacy has preserved and fulfilled the Commandments, conquered the passions, and renounced all pleasure. Who has renounced pleasure? He who has totally renounced self-love in all aspects of his free will; who has begun to hate himself in this short life for the sake of the Heavenly Kingdom and eternal life, who has acquired unwavering faith; who firmly and undoubtedly relies on God in all his sorrows and needs. Such a man is truly holy and passionless.
CONCERNING THE FEELING OF SOUL AND BODY, OF THE VIRTUES, AND OF WHICH VIRTUE IS BORN OF WHICH
At the creation of man the love of God towards the human race was manifested, unutterably and incalculably, for God gave to man feelings of soul and body. The feelings of soul are: mind, thought or understanding, word, imagination, feeling of the heart. The feelings of the body are the following: sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch. By means of the one and the other, we perform virtues of the soul and body. It was pleasing to Christ our God that books should be written so that a man might, by their means, judge properly and be instructed in the fear of God, the beginning of spiritual wisdom. The fear of God gives birth to faith; faith to hope; hope to love towards God and men; love to patience and many other virtues; patience to obedience and every virtue; obedience to trust; trust to fasting; fasting to purity and silence; silence gives birth to continence, prayer, tears, vigil, lamentation, vigilance, sobriety and much else, and cuts off evil speaking. Lamentation gives birth to unacquistiveness; unacquistiveness gives birth to righteousness and cuts off every dispute. Prayer gives birth to understanding, sobriety of mind, tears, joy, humility of heart, meekness. Humility gives birth to humility of wisdom, solitude; humility of wisdom cuts off pride, vainglory, and sprouts forth spiritual fruit. From these virtues are annihilated all passions of soul and body and, little by little, grace increases. These virtues are indispensable for those who are healthy of body and for those who are possessed by fleshly passions.
CONCERNING THE GREATER AND PRIMARY VIRTUES, IF ONE FULFILLS THESE VIRTUES, AND ALL OTHER VIRTUES WILL BE SUBMITTED TO HIM ON FAITH
Concerning faith: The first virtue is faith, for by faith even mountains are moved and men receive everything they wish, as the Lord said. Each one, in all glorious and wondrous deeds, is confirmed by his faith. By our own free will faith either decreases or increases.
ON LOVE (AGAPE)
The second virtue is unhypocritical love towards God and men. Love embraces and binds in one all virtues. By love alone the entire law is fulfilled and God-pleasing life takes place. Love consists in laying down one's life for one's friend and not doing to others what you yourself would not want done to yourself. For the sake of love the Son of God became man. He who remains in love remains in God: where love is, there is God also.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"---Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God