September 2007

(Mt 23:1-36, Mk 12:38-40, Lk 11:37-52, 20:45-47)

In some very colorful language, Jesus teaches that spiritual stagnation, which basically is a reversion to idolatry, leads to spiritual death, the death of the soul.

False judges, operating in the name of goodness and legality, seek to lead people into idolatry and to wield power over them, and they attempt to guard this power even to the point of committing homicide against those whom they perceive as threatening it.

Even in this social context, the poets and the prophets before Him, Christ brings light to the soul which renews its spiritual progress, opening the gates of the kingdom of heaven.


The Semi-Prepared Soul

The soul, which must always carry its burdens, semi-prepared, often climbs to a plateau from which it is not well prepared to climb up from again. So it must rest, pray, shift its burdens and start anew.

(Mt 21:18-22, Mk 11:12-14, 20-24)

Though the context appears a bit unusual, the message is clear: prayer is a powerful tool for understanding the will of God and for aligning our will with His. Once this is achieved the gates to the kingdom of God are open, and anything that is worthwhile for the soul to achieve can be achieved.

Sincere prayer means causing the flow of energy that changes your mind for the good, an energy that breaks up the λογισμούς once and for all and allows the body and mind to focus more and more on the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

II Male orans Catacomb

But merely mouthing the words of the prayer will not achieve that result. You must concentrate the mind and body in harmony and effect life-changing energy flow. This is the faith, this is the energy of Christ in your heart.

The struggle for prayer, not merely symbolizes, it actually is the struggle to pursue some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, namely, lately for me at least, discipline – εγκράτεια – the discipline to avoid thoughts leading to behavior which is the antithesis of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The struggle for prayer is putting up the good fight against Satan who nefariously works to sully your heart and mind with wayward thought which leads to fruitless action or inaction. We must constantly remind ourselves, even with the great aid of prayer, to conjure up our energy to display discipline so that we remain focused on what is really important.

As the prayer says “changing our minds” – μετάνοια – is a life-long process and we must constantly work as hard as our εγκράτεια allows towards accomplishing it, to reaching deeper levels of discernment and understanding.

And this is why we also have the liturgical life – ακολουθία – to guide us in our prayer. And if at all possible, whether layman or monk, try to maintain the discipline throughout the entire cycle of the day, the entire cycle of the ακολουθία, from the midnight hour to the ninth hour, until the shades of evening, until the last hour, until the Last Day.

Never let go the coat. Never let go the tools of your discipline – εγκράτεια -, Ακολουθία, Tradition, Scripture, Art, and your God-given talents within them, so that you may exercise them fruitfully in the spirit of Holiness.

The Lord wants a soul mature in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that is God’s will.