Saturday, October 31, 2015

How Can We Love When Someone Harms Us? ( St. Porphyrios )

First, we should never expect others to speak to us politely. This expectation is an ego-centric trait of ours. We need to let other speak as they wish . 

St. Porphyrios says, “we shouldn’t become beggars for love. Our aim should be to love them and pray for them with all our soul.”

But what do we do when someone injures us with slanders or insults. This is a difficult teaching. Here is how St. Porphyrios approaches it.
When someone injures us in whatever way, whether with slander or with insults, we should think of him as our brother who has been taken hold of by the enemy…. We need to have compassion for him and entreat God to have mercy both on us and on him… A person who condemns others does not love Christ. Our egoism is at fault.

He gives us an example:
Let’s suppose someone is all alone in the desert. Suddenly he hears a voice crying out in distress in the distance. He follows the sound and is confronted by a horrendous sight: a tiger has grabbed hold of a man and is savaging him with his claws. The man is desperately shouting for help. In a few minutes he will be torn to pieces. What can the person do to help? Can he run to his side? How? It is impossible. Can he shout for help? Who will hear him? There is no one within earshot. Should he perhaps pick up a stone and throw it at the man to finish him off? Certainly not, we would say. But that is exactly what can happen if we don’t realize that the other person who is acting badly towards us has been taken hold of by a tiger, the devil. 

We fail to realize that when we react to such a person without love it is as if we are throwing stones at his wounds and accordingly we are doing him great harm and the “tiger” leaps onto us and we to the same as him and worse. What kind of love do we have then for our neighbor and even more importantly, for God?.. We should regard our brethren with sympathy and behave with courtesy towards them, repeating in our hearts with simplicity the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ,” so that the grace of God may strengthen our soul and so that we don't pass judgment on anyone.

Our task when we are injured and we see an vice in another person is to inundate him or her with the grace of God and have the upmost compassion so he or she may be healed.

In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Understanding the Soul ( Saint Theophan the Recluse )

I remember many years ago a spiritual teacher asking me this simple question, "Can you describe your soul?" This question haunted me for several years. So, what is the nature of our soul? How do we get to know it? Knowing soul is something that requires stillness in the mind. Our mind is continually in motion distracting us from a deep inner knowledge. Saint Theophan suggests that we divide the soul into different parts to know it –– intellectual, desiring and sensual.

Intellectual Aspect: You intellect stands about your memory and imagination; this intellect, among with intellectual labor, obtains for you definite concepts or cognitions about things.... This leads to thoughts, opinions and suppositions. Its business is to reason, think things over, and reach necessary conclusions.
But, normally our mind is filled with thoughts of all kinds. It is not still so we can make reasoned choices. We become driven by our passions.

Desirous Aspect: The faculty that operates here is the will... At its foundation lies zeal, or ardor––the thirst for something.... In a person who has lived for some time almost everything is done by habit.
Normally instead of using the will to do God's will we instead override it with our habits to meet the demands of our passions. So, not only do we have the confusion with the scattering of our thoughts but we also have a distorted inconsistent use of our desiring aspect seeking selfish desires.

Sensual Aspect: the Heart. Everything which enters the soul from the outside, and which is shaped by the intellectual and desirous aspects , falls to the heart; everything which the soul observes on the outside also passes through the heart, That is why its called the center of life... It constantly and persistently senses the condition of the soul and body, and along with this the various impressions from the individual actions of the soul and body... compelling and forcing man to furnish everything which is pleasant to its.
But it is most commonly tormented by the passions and it does not operate in peace. It then leads us to emotions and attachments that may not lead us to unity with God.

We can now begin to understand the nature of our spiritual life which is for our soul to regain its proper place so we can center our life on the will of God instead of the passions of our body. Of course it still needs to care for the body but as a secondary effort. The soul longs to be reunited with God, a unity broken by Adam and Eve, and a brokenness that Christ showed us how to heal, establishing His Church to help us in this effort.

Source: Saint Theophan the Recluse

The Spiritual Life, pp 48 - 60

The Church in our times ( St. Paisios )

'' The Church is the Church of Christ and He is the One Who governs Her.
The Church is not a temple built with stones, sand and mortar by the faithful, and destroyed by the fire of barbarians.

The Church is Christ Himself. ''

With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man- Elder Paisios