Orthodox Spirituality

Written By: on Jul 5th, 2009 and filed under Articles, We Believe.

Orthodox Spirituality and this world

It is very important to note that Orthodox Spirituality does not call for an indifference to life, for a withdrawal from its affairs and for a pre-mature eschatology. The Church Fathers have demonstrated the movement of God’s creation (universe) and the need for every person to participate in it, if he/she wants to reach the perfection represented by the mystical union with God. There should be a synergia (co-operation) of human will and the divine grace (human will and divine grace are two unequal but equally needed forces in the movement to attain perfection. The Church denies any kind of teaching that deny either the divine grace or the human will in the process of attaining perfection). This movement is intended in general to elevate a person to the level of the highest good and to perfection.

The road to Christian perfection does not exclude this world and the works in it, but it does require that it contribute to the winning of virtues. No one should imagine that the work he/she does is an end in itself; it has the role of beautifying his nature, with the virtues of patience, of self-control, of love for his neighbor, of faith in God, and in turn of opening his eyes to the wise principles placed by God in all things. The ultimate purpose of work and the taking part in the life of this world is not so much the development of nature as it is the normal development of the dormant possibilities in man and in his neighbours. Even in the enduring of troubles, which is one of the most important means of Christian striving, we don’t have to run away from the life of the world, but persistence in it. The care for one’s own formation and that of our neighbours, by beautifying ourselves with virtues, does not mean a non-participation in the life of the world.

The one who has reached the peaks of spiritual living is no longer pre-occupied with external activity, but contemplation. Even so, he/she exerts an influence on the development of the world, by an attraction and a power which touch his neighbours, that they might become as he/she is, by the same fulfillment of the commandments, by the same virtous works. The person who has reached the peak of perfection exerts an influence and an attraction on his/her neighbours, which makes them strive to reach the ideal goal. Because the very highest of the virtues, which the spiritual man struggles for, is love. In love there is knowledge too and the love of God cannot be separated from the love of the people.

Holy Trinity is the basis and Love is the Hallmark of Orthodox Spirituality

The very basis of Christian life is in the mystery of Holy Trinity and Incarnation. Orthodox spirituality has as a basic conviction on the existence of a personal God, who is incarnated and who is the supreme source of radiating love. God prizes man and does not want to confuse him/her with Himself, but maintains and raises him to an eternal dialogue of love.

But the personal God, the supreme source of love, can’t be conceived of as a single person, but as a community of persons in a perfect unity. The God of the New Testament and of the holy Fathers is living and irreducibly three in one the Holy Trinity.

We may describe the Trinitarian basis of our spirituality in the following lines: Only a perfect community of supreme persons (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) can nourish, with its unending and perfect love, our thirst for love in relation to it and between ourselves. The Father wants to extend love in its paternal form. So after the creation of man, He wanted His Son to become man so that His love for His Son, made man, would be a love which is directed toward any human face, like that of His son. In the Son made flesh we are all adopted by the Father. The Father loves all of us in His Son, because the Son was made our brother. God the Son, too, thus shows His love as a supreme brother. But the Son’s love for us is not separated from the Father’s love for us, but in His love as a brother He makes the Father’s love and also His love for the Father, engulf us. In us the Father welcomes other loving and loved sons because His Son was made our beloved brother. However, this paternal love is poured out on us in the form of the Holy Spirit flooding the Son. By the Incarnate Son the Holy Spirit radiates within humanity and the world, as the love of God for us and of ours for God. The Holy Spirit brings into creation inter-Trinitarian life and love. He raises us to the level of deification. The invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Qurbana (epiclesis) hasn’t only the purpose of changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but of brining divine life into the creation. This is why the Church invokes the Holy Spirit in all her sanctifying services.  We are raised up by the Holy Spirit to the divine world or in the other way the divine world penetrates us. This is what really the meaning and goal of our spirituality or spiritual life.

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