Praxis and Theoria (Part II)

Icon of the Mother of God of Igor

Icon of the Mother of God of Igor

Beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


By Metropolitan Hierotheos, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Greece.

Thus, purification of the heart, i.e., our inner world, is the first stage of the spiritual life, through which we must pass in order to attain salvation.] In the following, the meaning attached to "purification of heart" by the Holy Fathers must be ascertained. They intend primarily three things:

Firstly, purification of the heart is the cure of the soul's faculty, so as to function in accordance with nature and above nature--not contrary to nature. Man's soul is both unified and manifold. She has primarily three faculties: the intelligent, the appetitive and the incentive. All three faculties, when functioning normally, are directed towards God. The intellect seeks God; the desire longs for God, and the will must do everything to achieve this communion and union with God.

Secondly, purification is man's deliverance from pleasure and pain, in other words a person's liberation from the oppression exerted by pleasure and pain. When man is cleansed, he is freed from their domination. It is the spiritual pleasures which primarily are cultivated within him; and he does not become distressed or afflicted when diverse people or problems and adversities in life cause him pain.

Thirdly, purification is the cleansing of the heart from the various thoughts--logismoi (plural) existing therein. They are called logismoi because they must dwell in the reason and not within the heart. What does this mean? When a "logismos" (singular) comes and a person is not sufficiently attentive, it then becomes a desire which wants to be fulfilled, i.e., realized. This means that the logismos (a single thought) proceeds from the intelligent faculty of the soul to the passible faculty, that is the faculties of the appetitive and the incentive. Being realized and developing into a passion (pathos) the logismos (the thought) enters, in fact, into the heart and remains all powerful there...

"...If praxis is the purification of heart in patristic tradition, theoria, is on the one hand the illumination of the nous and on the other the vision of the Uncreated Light. Thus, in the teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas, it appears that theoria of God is man's union with God. It is effected through divinization (theosis) and bestows upon him the knowledge of God. Theoria, union, theosis (deification), and knowledge of God are synonymous terms in Patristic Tradition.

This is the path leading to a person's cure. Just as every science has a specific way of guiding a person to knowledge, so also does the Church have a method to lead man to God. And this method consists of purification of the heart, illumination of the nous and divinization (theosis) --also called praxis and theoria.


Saint Nicholas of Serbia writes, "All that you lose in the name of God, you keep. All that you keep for your own sake, you lose. All that you give in the name of God, you will receive with interest. All that you give for the sake of your own glory and pride, you throw into the water. All that you receive from people as from God will bring you joy. All that you receive from people as from people will bring you worries."


"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

+Father George