Ontological effects of the Jesus Prayer

by Emma Cazabonne

The act of repeatedly invoking the Name has a double effect: it makes our prayer more unified and at the same time more inward.

1. Unification

The repeated Invocation of the Name can bring us, by God’s grace, from dividedness to unity, from dispersion and multiplicity to singleness.

To stop the continual jostling of your
thoughts,’ says Bishop Theophan, ‘you must bind the mind with one
thought, or the thought of One only.’[i]

To oppose our thoughts, we look upwards to the Lord Jesus and entrust ourselves into his hands invoking his Name; and the grace that acts through his Name overcomes the thoughts which we cannot obliterate by our own strength. This is a positive spiritual strategy, not a negative one: instead of trying to empty our mind of what is evil, we fill it with the thought of what is good.

The Jesus Prayer, then, is a way of
turning aside and looking elsewhere. Thoughts and images inevitably
occur to us during prayer. We cannot stop them by a mere exertion of our
will. We cannot simply turn off the internal television set. It is of
little or no value to say to ourselves ‘Stop thinking’; we might as well
say ‘Stop breathing’. I love quoting Cassian about this: our mind is
like a mill, its nature is to grind continually. It cannot stop. So
you’d better provide it with good grain.

But while it lies beyond our power to
make this inner chatter suddenly disappear, what we can do is to detach ourselves from it by ‘binding’ our ever-active mind ‘with one thought, or the thought of One only’—the Name of Jesus.

Only when we invoke the Name in this way—not even forming pictures of the Savior—shall we experience the full power of the Jesus Prayer to integrate and unify. The Jesus Prayer
concentrates us into the here and now, making us single-centered, drawing us from a multiplicity of thoughts to union with the one Christ.

In his book True Self/False Self, Basil Pennington demonstrates how centering prayer and lectio divina
can deliver us from our false self and lead us to the unification and
authenticity of our true self. I believe this is even more the case with
the Jesus Prayer, because of the power active in His Name. The unifying effect is certainly enhanced if you pray the prayer on the breathing rhythm, as body and soul will cooperate.

2. Inwardness

The repeated Invocation of the Name, by making our prayer more unified, makes it at the same time more inward, more a part of ourselves—not something that we do at particular moments, but something that we are all the time; not an occasional act but a continuing state. Such praying becomes truly prayer of the whole person, in which the words and meaning of the prayer are fully identified with the one who prays. That’s why we also call this prayer the prayer of the heart, heart being understood in the Semitic and biblical way, that is, referring to the totality of the human person.

To accomplish the journey inwards and to attain true prayer, it is required of us to enter into this ‘absolute center, that is, to descend with our intellect into the heart. This
‘union of the intellect with the heart’ signifies the reintegration of our fallen and fragmented nature, our restoration to original wholeness.

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Merton writes:

At the center of our being is a point of
nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure
truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at
our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is
inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our
own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us,
as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It
is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It
is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of
points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.…I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.[ii]

The heart has a double significance in
the spiritual life: it is both the center of the human being and the point of meeting between the human being and God.

Merton again writes:

The easiest way to come to God is to enter into our own center and then pass through that center into the center of God.[iii]

The heart is both the place of
self-knowledge, where we see ourselves as we truly are, and the place of self-transcendence, where we understand our nature as a temple of the Holy Trinity. Prayer of the heart, then, is no longer prayer to Jesus but the prayer of Jesus himself happening in us. And blessed are you if one day you really experience this in praying the Jesus Prayer. Sometimes, God even grants this tremendous gift to us, sinners.

III) Mystical effects of the Jesus Prayer[iv]

The more you pray this prayer, the more you will discover its multiple levels and effects, and the more it will grow and expand in you. Let me mention a few of these levels, as pinpointed by Lev Gillet, a Benedictine monk of the (Catholic) Eastern rite, who signed his books A Monk of the Eastern Church.

1. Adoration and salvation

It begins as adoration and a
sense of presence. Then this presence is perceived as that of a Savior – Jesus. The invocation of the Name is a mystery of salvation. It brings
deliverance with it. His name gives peace.

2. Incarnation

The Name of JESUS is a means
by which we can apply to ourselves the mystery of the Incarnation. It
brings union. By pronouncing the Name, we put on Christ, we offer our
flesh to the Word, so that He might assume it in His mystical Body.

3. Transfiguration

The Name of JESUS is an instrument and method of Transfiguration. When we utter it,
we transfigure the whole cosmos into JESUS Christ. This is a way of
exercising the priestly ministry that all Christians receive at baptism.
By invoking the Name of JESUS upon nature and creation, we give it back
its primitive dignity and beauty.

In The Way of the Pilgrim,
constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer transforms the pilgrim’s
relationship with the material creation around him, making all things transparent, changing them into a sacrament of God’s presence. He writes:

When I prayed with my heart, everything around me seemed delightful and marvelous. The trees, the grass, the birds, the earth, the air, the light seemed to be telling me that they existed for man’s sake, that they witnessed to the love of God for man,
that everything proved the love of God for man, that all things prayed
to God and sang his praise. Thus it was that I came to understand what
The Philokalia calls ‘the knowledge of the speech of all creatures’ . . .
I felt a burning love for Jesus and for all God’s creatures.[v]

In the words of Father Bulgakov,

Shining through the heart, the light of the Name of JESUS illuminates all the universe.’’[vi]

Our ministry of Transfiguration is even more deeply fulfilled in relation to our brothers and sisters. By recognizing and silently adoring JESUS in them, by pronouncing His Name over them, we transfigure them into their most profound and divine reality. And the world will be transformed.

The Prayer transfigures the Pilgrim’s relation not only with the material creation but with other humans:

Again I started off on my wanderings.
But now I did not walk along as before, filled with care. The Invocation
of the Name of Jesus gladdened my way. Everybody was kind to me, it was
as though everyone loved me. . . . If anyone harms me I have only to
think, ‘How sweet is the Prayer of Jesus!’ and the injury and the anger
alike pass away and I forget it all.[vii]

4. The Body of Christ

The Name of JESUS is a means
of uniting us to the Church, for the Church is in Christ. It is a way
towards Christian unity, as we find in His Name the spotless and
heavenly Church.

5. The Lord’s Last Supper

The Name of JESUS can become for us a kind of Eucharist. It is an interior and invisible offering.

6. The Name and the Spirit

In the Acts of the Apostles,
we see a Pentecostal use of the Name of JESUS. If our faith were bigger
than a mustard seed, we could renew in us the fruit of Pentecost
through JESUS’ Name.

We can also experience something of the relation between the Son and the Spirit, and/or between the Son and the Father.

7. Towards the Father

To utter the name of JESUS
is to draw near the Father, to contemplate the love and the gift of the Father which centers upon JESUS. It is to feel something of that love
and to unite ourselves to it from afar. And it is, as much as a creature
is able, to enter into Christ’s filial conscience. It is recognizing in
JESUS the perfect expression of the Father, uniting ourselves to the
eternal orientation of the Son towards the Father, to the total offering of the Son to the Father. For thus is the journey’s end.

III) The journey’s end

The final objective may aptly be described by the Patristic term theosis, ‘deification’ or ‘divinization’. In the words of Sergei Bulgakov,

The Name of Jesus, present in the human heart, confers upon it the power of deification.’[viii]

The Jesus Prayer, addressed to the Logos Incarnate, is a means of realizing within ourselves this mystery of theosis, whereby human persons attain the true likeness of God. The Jesus Prayer, by uniting us to Christ, helps us to share in the mutual indwelling of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. The more the Prayer becomes a part of ourselves, the more we enter into the movement of love which passes unceasingly between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Hesychast tradition, the mystery of theosis has most often taken the outward form of a vision of light, not a symbolical or physical light, but the divine and uncreated Light of the Godhead, which shone from Christ at his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
and which will illumine the whole world at his second coming on the Last Day. Such is the vision of glory to which we may approach through the
Invocation of the Name. The Jesus Prayer causes the brightness of the
Transfiguration to penetrate into every corner of our life.

The JESUS Prayer is thus a source of
liberation and healing. The warmth and joyfulness of the Jesus Prayer is
particularly evident in the writings of St Hesychius of Sinai:

The more the rain falls on the earth,
the softer it makes it; similarly, the more we call upon Christ’s Holy
Name, the greater the rejoicing and exultation it brings to the earth of
our heart . . . .

The sun rising over the earth creates
the daylight; and the venerable and Holy Name of the Lord Jesus, shining
continually in the mind, gives birth to countless thoughts radiant as
the sun.[ix]

The Jesus Prayer makes each into a ‘man/woman for others’, a living instrument of God’s peace, a dynamic center of reconciliation. The Jesus Prayer is ultimately a way of life in the Spirit, leading us to the Father. May it be so for you, by the Grace of God.


[i] The Art of Prayer, p.97.
[ii] Merton, Thomas, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, New York: Image Books, 1966, p. 158.
[iii] Quoted by Basil Pennington, in True Self/False Self, New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000, p.17.
[iv] This part is a summary and abridges version of The Payer of JESUS, by A Monk of the Eastern Church, chapter 4.
[v] The Way of a Pilgrim, p.31-2;41.
[vi] The Orthodox Church, p.171.
[vii] The Way of a Pilgrim, p.17-18.
[viii] The Orthodox Church, p.170.

[ix] On Watchfulness and Holiness, 7,41,196.


This article is Part 2 of Emma Cazabonne’s larger essay entitled, “The Jesus Prayer”. Based upon her talk, it was an adaptation of The Power of the Name, by Kallistos Ware (1974) with an addition from The Prayer of JESUS, by A Monk of the Eastern Church (1967). The Part 1 of this article may be read here.

Read Emma Cazabonne’s book: A Light to Enlighten the Darkness: Daily Readings for Meditation during the
Winter Season,

visit her blog: http://wordsandpeace.com, and view

her artwork: http://rocksbyemmanuelle.com.

We Should Approach a Person As a Mystery

by +Anthony, Metropolitan of Sourozh

We heard today the story of the man born blind. We do not know from experience what physical blindness is, but we can imagine how this man was walled in himself, how all the world around him existed only as a distant sound, something he could not picture, imagine. He was a prisoner within his own body. He could live by imaginations, he could invent a world around himself, he could by touch and by hearing approximate what really was around him; but the total, full reality could only escape him.

We are not physically blind, but how many of us are locked in themselves! Who of us can say that he is so open that he can perceive all the world in its width, but also in its depth? We meet people, and we see them with our eyes; but seldom it happens that beyond the outer shape, features, clothes, – how often does it happen that we see something of the depth of the person? How seldom it is that we look into a person’s eyes and go deep in understanding! We are surrounded by people and every person is unique to God, but are people unique to us? Are not people that surround us just ‘people’, who have names, surnames, nicknames, whom we can recognise by their outer looks but whom we do not know at any depth?

This is our condition: we are blind, we are deaf, we are insensitive to the outer world, and yet, we are called to read meanings. When we meet a person, we should approach this person as a mystery, that is as something which we can discover only by a deep communion, by entering into a relationship, perhaps silent, perhaps in words, but so deep that we can know one another not quite as God knows us, but in the light of God that enlightens all and each of us.

And more than this: we can do, each within his own power, within his own gifts, what Christ did: He opened the eyes of this man. What did this man see? The first thing he saw was the face of the Incarnate Son of God, in other words, he saw love incarnate. When his eyes met the eyes of Christ, he met God’s compassion, God’s tenderness, God’s earnest concern and understanding. In the same way could so many people begin to see, if by meeting us they meet people in whose eyes, on whose face they could see the shining of earnest, sober love, of a love that is not sentimental but is seeing, a love that can see and understand. And then, how much could we be to people around us a revelation of all the meanings that this world holds and contains through art, through beauty, through science, through all the means by which beauty is perceived and proclaimed among human beings.

But are we doing this? Is our concern to convey the width, and the depth, the beauty and the meaning of things to every person whom we meet? Are we not rather concerned with receiving than with giving? And yet, Saint Paul who knew what it meant to receive and to give, said, ‘It is a more blessed thing to give than to receive’. And yet how much had he received! He had received the knowledge of God in his own experience; he had received teaching, and knowledge, and experience within the Old Testament, and then Christ revealed Himself to him: what did he not receive! And yet, he exulted more in giving than in receiving, because he did not want to be the owner of all the richness that had come his way; he wanted to share it, to give it, to set aglow and afire other lives than his own.

Let us reflect on how rich, how richly endowed we are, how much it was given us to see, and to hear. And let us realise at the same time how tragically walled we are within ourselves unless we break this wall in order to give, as generously, as richly, as abundantly as we were given. And then indeed, our joy will be fulfilled according to Christ’s promise. And no one, nothing will ever be able to take it away from us. Amen!

Without Faith Children become Strangers

Sermon. 131.19:41-44.

by St Leo Pope of Old Rome

THE blessed prophet Jeremiah loudly condemned the ignorance, at once, and pride of the Jews, rebuking them in these words; “How say you that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? In vain is the lying cord of the scribes. The wise men are ashamed: they trembled, and were taken: what wisdom have they, in that they have rejected the Word of the Lord!” For being neither wise, nor acquainted with the sacred Scriptures, though the scribes and Pharisees falsely assumed to themselves the reputation of being learned in the law, they rejected the Word of God. For when the Only Begotten had become man, they did not receive Him, nor yield their neck obediently to the summons which He addressed to them by the Gospel. Because therefore by their wicked conduct they rejected the Word of God, they were themselves rejected, being condemned by God’s just decree. For He said, by the voice of Jeremiah, “Call them rejected silver: because the Lord has rejected them.” And again, “Shave your head, and cast it away, and take lamentation upon your lips, because the Lord has rejected and thrust away the generation that has done these things.” And what these things are, the God of all has Himself declared to us, saying, “Hear, O earth: behold! I am bringing upon this people evils; the fruit of their turning away; because they regarded not My word, and have rejected My law.” For neither did they keep the commandment that was given to them by Moses, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men:” and further, they also rejected the Word of God the Father, having refused to honour by faith Christ, when He called them thereunto. The fruits therefore of their turning away were plainly the calamities which happened to them: for they suffered all misery, as the retribution due for murdering the Lord.

But their falling into this affliction was not in accordance with the good will of God. For He would rather have had them attain to happiness by faith and obedience. But they were disobedient, and arrogant: yet even so, though this was their state of mind, Christ pitied them: for “He wills that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” For it even says, that “when He saw the city, He wept;” that we hereby might learn that He feels grief, if we may so speak of God, Who transcends all. But we could not have known that He pitied them, wicked as they were, had He not made manifest by some human action that sorrow which we could not see. For the tear which drops from the eye is a symbol of grief, or rather, a plain demonstration of it. So He wept also over Lazarus, that we again might understand that it grieved Him that the nature of man had fallen under the power of death. For “He created all things to incorruption; but by the envy of the devil death entered into the world:” not indeed because the envy of the devil is more powerful than the will of the Creator, but because it was necessary that there should follow, upon the transgression of the divine commandment, a penalty that would humble to corruption whosoever had despised the law of life.

We say therefore that He wept also over Jerusalem for a similar reason: for He desired, as I said, to see it in happiness, by its accepting faith in Him, and welcoming peace with God. For it was to this that the prophet Isaiah also invited them, saying, “Let us make peace with Him: let us who come make peace.” For that by faith peace is made by us with God, the wise Paul teaches us, where he writes, “Being justified therefore by faith, we have peace with God by our Lord Jesus Christ.” But they, as I said, having hurried with unbridled violence into arrogancy and contumely, persisted in despising the salvation which is by Christ: and Christ therefore blames them for this very thing, saying, “Would that you had known, even you, the things of your peace:” the things, that is, useful and necessary for you to make your peace with God. And these were faith, obedience, the abandon- ment of types, the discontinuance of the legal service, and the choice in preference of that which is in spirit and in truth, even that which is by Christ, of a sweet savour, and admirable, and precious before God. “For God, He says, is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

But they are hidden, He says, from your eyes.” For they were not worthy to know, or rather to understand, the Scriptures inspired of God, and which speak of the mystery of Christ. For Paul said, “Seeing then that we have so great a hope, we use great freedom of speech: and not as Moses, who put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel might not behold the glory of his countenance, which was fading away. But their minds were blinded; for even to this day the same veil remains upon the reading of the old covenant: for when Moses is read, the veil is laid upon their hearts, and is not taken off, because it is done away in Christ.” But in what way is the veil done away in Christ? It is because He, as being the reality, makes the shadow cease: for that it is His mystery which is represented by the shadow of the law, He assures us, saying to the Jews, “Had you believed Moses, you would have believed also Me: for he wrote of Me.” For it was because they had not carefully examined the types of the law, that they did not see the truth. “For callousness in part has happened to Israel,” as Paul, who was really learned in the law, tells us. But callousness is the certain cause of ignorance and darkness: for so Christ once spoke; “It is not any thing that goes into the mouth which defiles the man.” And even then the Pharisees again reproached Him, for so speaking, with the breaking of the law, and overthrowing of the commandment given them by Moses. And afterwards the disciples drew near to Him, saying, “Do you know that the Pharisees, who heard the word, were offended? And He answered them, Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up: let them alone: blind are they, leaders of the blind.” The plant therefore which the Father planted not,—-for He calls to the acknowledgment of the Son those who shall be accounted worthy of His salvation, —-shall be rooted up.

Far different is the case with those who have believed in Him: how could it be otherwise? For, as the Psalmist says concerning them, “They are planted in the house of the Lord, and shall flourish in the courts of our God.” For they are the building and workmanship of God, as the sacred Scripture declares. For it is said to God by the voice of David, “Your sons shall be as the young olive plants round about your table.”

But the Israelites, even before the Incarnation, proved themselves unworthy of the salvation which is by Christ, in that they rejected communion with God, and set up for themselves gods falsely so called, and slew the prophets, although they warned them not to depart from the living God, but to hold fast to His sacred commandments. But they would not consent so to do, but grieved Him in many ways, even when He invited them to salvation.

And this the Saviour Himself teaches us, thus saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your sons, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not.” You see that He indeed often desired to bestow upon them His mercy, but they rejected His aid. And therefore they were condemned by God’s holy decree, and put away from being members of His spiritual household. For He even said by one of the holy prophets to the people of the Jews, “I have compared your mother to the night: My people is like to him that has no knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest: and because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.” Observe therefore that He compares Jerusalem to the night; for the darkness of ignorance veiled the heart of the Jews, and blinded their eyes: and for this reason they were given over to destruction and slaughter. For the God of all spoke by the voice of Ezechiel: “As I live, says the Lord, surely inasmuch as you have defiled My holy things with all your impurities, I will also reject you; My eye shall not spare, nor will I pity.” “They that are in the plain shall die by the sword: and them that are in the city famine and pestilence shall consume. And those of them that are saved shall be delivered, and shall be upon the mountains as meditative doves.” For Israel did not perish from the very roots, nor, so to speak, stock and branch: but a remnant was delivered, of which the foremost and the first-fruits were the blessed disciples, of whom it is that he says, that they were upon the mountains as meditative doves. For they were as heralds throughout the whole world, forth-telling the mystery of Christ, and their office is praise and song, and, so to speak, to cry aloud in psalms, “My tongue shall meditate on Your righteousness: and all the day on Your praise.”

The means therefore of her peace with God were hidden from Jerusalem: and of these the first and foremost is the faith which justifies the wicked, and unites by holiness and righteousness those who possess it to the all pure God.

That the city then, once so holy and illustrious, even Jerusalem, fell into the distresses of war, may be seen from history: but the prophet Isaiah also assures us of it, where he cries aloud to the multitudes of the Jews, “Your country is desolate: your cities are burnt with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence: and it is desolate as overthrown by foreign nations.” This was the wages of the vainglory of the Jews, the punishment of their disobedience, the torment that was the just penalty of their pride.

But we have won the hope of the saints, and are in all happiness, because we have honoured Christ by faith: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
+!

On Lazarus

The Lazarus of the Parable, and the Lazarus who was Four Days in the Tomb.

by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)

Have you ever noticed, dear reader, that in all of Christ’s parables there occurs but one proper name? If you have noticed, have you ever attempted to ascertain why the Lord calls only this Lazarus by name, while even his rival during his earthly sojourn remains under the general title of the Rich Man? Evidently, the Divine Teacher wished His followers to keep firmly in mind both the earthly and the eternal lot of poor Lazarus, although the main idea of the parable is concentrated nonetheless in the person of the Rich Man: Lazarus remains silent in the parable, while the Rich Man speaks and prays for himself and his brethren. The Savior’s wish did not go unfulfilled: Lazarus has become a favorite theme in the songs of good Christians! The poor are comforted by such hymns amid their misfortunes, the hearts of the rich are turned from greed thereby, and all are taught to be mindful of death, the judgment of God, and generosity towards the poor. Yet, our problem remains unresolved. The parable of the Prodigal Son is also a favorite topic, if not for folk songs, at least for ecclesiastical hymns, and there are others as well in which mercy and repentance are extolled; but there are no proper names therein. Furthermore, in songs about Lazarus the singers do not draw inspiration from his name, but from the depictions of heaven and hades, the hardheartedness of the Rich Man on earth, and his belated repentance in hades.

Perhaps we would sooner find what we seek, were we to attempt to elucidate the individual ideas expressed in the Lord’s parable. Is everything in it clear? Is our heart reconciled to Abraham’s hope-shattering reply to the Rich Man who was bemoaning his brethren: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”?

These stern words, by the very force of their implications, probably troubled many of the Lord’s followers, and to this day continue to trouble many who read the Gospel, for they seem to be an exaggeration until they are confirmed by actual events. And in fact, they were confirmed. Not Lazarus the pauper of the parable, but another Lazarus, the friend of Christ, known to all the Jews, plainly, rose from the dead, before the eyes of a large crowd of people, having spent four days as an unbreathing, malodorous corpse. “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.” Many, but not all. “But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done” (Jn. 11:45, 46). They assembled, and not only were not mollified in their stubborn unbelief, or, more accurately, their disobedience to the truth, but, in accordance with the voiced intent of Caiaphas, determined to kill the Slayer of Death; yet even this did not seem enough for them. “The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (12:10, 11). Note that in their decision there is neither a denial of the miracle, nor an indication of any guilt on the part of either of those they had condemned: an unjust execution, decided beforehand, was their sole means of keeping the people in unbelief, and they determined to utilize such means.

The words which the Lord put on the lips of Abraham concerning the extent of man’s hardheartedness were thus proved true in all their terrible accuracy: whoever does not want to listen to Moses and the prophets will not believe one who has risen from the dead. The Apostle John does not cite the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, but somewhat earlier cites Christ’s words which link the Jews’ disbelief in His miracles to disobedience to Moses and secret unbelief in his law, which proceed from moral callousness and the seeking of their own, not God’s glory. “There is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believed not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (Jn. 5:45-47).

Yet another puzzle remains which is often put to theologians: Why is the resurrection of Lazarus mentioned neither by the evangelist who cites the Lord’s parable of the inheritor of paradise of the same name, nor by the other two synoptic evangelists? Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow asked this question on one Academy examination, and when no one undertook to answer it, he replied thus: when the first three Gospels were written, Lazarus was still alive and, forever burdened as it were by the inquiries of those around him concerning what his soul experienced when it separated from his body, he would have become upset and embarrassed should this event have been made public in all the Churches during his lifetime; therefore, it was included only in the fourth Gospel, which was written after the death of Lazarus.

The scholarly biographer of Metropolitan Philaret marvels at the wisdom and simplicity of this explanation, but he did not know that this explanation is drawn entirely from the Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion. The pre-eminence of the late metropolitan over his colleagues lies in the fact that in their introductory research the latter merely travelled along the paths of the negative critics, trying to defeat them with their own weapon, and studied the Bible too little outside of these polemical maneuvres, while the metropolitan delved into it and into the Church’s Tradition, not only with a critical interest, but with a positive one, free of polemic.

A similar point of view will help us clear up an even more frequent problem. From the very sequence of the narrative of the fourth Gospel, we can see that the Apostle is writing a supplementary narrative to books that were written earlier concerning events already known to his readers. Such a supplementary narrative is the description of the miracle performed on Lazarus who was four days dead, composed with the same clarity of detail which in general distinguishes St. John’s accounts from those of the first three evangelists, and completely demolishes the pitiful theory of the German negative critics on the spuriousness of the fourth Gospel, which they allege was composed in the middle of the second century by “obscure gnostic philosophers.”

Thus, St. John wishes to relate the raising of Lazarus to those readers who knew of the anointing of the Lord with oil at the meal, of His Entrance into Jerusalem, and of the treachery of Judas, but did not know of this great miracle of the Lord, whereby He assured us of the General Resurrection.

Readers of the first Gospels may have been puzzled as to why the people of Jerusalem who before had met the Lord with wary curiosity and disputations, now so unanimously went forth to meet Him, rendering Him royal, and even divine, veneration. True, the Evangelist Luke says that the people glorified Him for all His miracles, but this hint* is not very clear to the reader, for the miracles of the Lord were known to the teachers of Jerusalem even during His previous visits to the city. Thus, only the Evangelist John, linking this event with the raising of Lazarus, dispels the reader’s perplexity.

It is with precisely this thought that he ended his narrative with the words: “For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle” (Jn. 12:18). A similar, more detailed elucidation of events which were known, but not clear, to readers of the first three Gospels, we find in John’s account of the miracle of the five loaves and the Savior’s subsequent walking on the water. The fourth evangelist explains that the people, carried away by the miraculous visitation, wished to seize the Wonderworker by force and proclaim Him king. To escape the frenzy of the people, the Lord hid for a time in the desert, sending His disciples ahead by boat; and later, after the people had fallen asleep, the Lord, postponing the fulfilment of His intention until the next day, withdrew from the people by walking on the waters of the lake.

The tradition of the Church that the Evangelists did not record the Lord’s raising of Lazarus before the day of his second death renders quite plausible the theory that all of chapter eleven, or perhaps only the first 45 verses of it, as well as the second half of the first verse and verses 9-11, 17, and 18 of chapter twelve, were written by the Evangelist after he had completed the Gospel, that is, when Lazarus reposed a second time. We are led to such a conclusion by the narrator’s second return to the day of the raising of Lazarus (“six days before the Passover,” etc.) and to the solemn evening meal which took place that day at his home. Here we are told how Mary poured ointment on the Savior’s feet; while in chapter eleven, where, upon first mention of Mary and Martha, it is said: “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair,” as of an event already known to the reader (but not from the first two Gospels, for there the pouring of ointment on the head of the Lord in the house of Simon the Leper is spoken of). Thus, it is very likely that the Gospel according to John was written during Lazarus’ life, and that the narrative of his resurrection was added by the Evangelist after his death, exactly as all of chapter twenty-one of that Gospel was added by the Apostle later, as a result of the stories spread during his old age that he would never die. This is why, let us add, the Gospel according to John has two concluding epilogues, each rather similar to the other: one at the end of chapter twenty, and another at the end of chapter twenty-one, in which his original silence concerning the appearance of the Lord at the Sea of Tiberias is explained by the words “if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” Thus the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, written down by one of the first three evangelists, the synoptics, was, by the resurrection of Lazarus and the unbelief of the Jews described by the Evangelist John, actually vindicated in its puzzling idea expressed in the words: “if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” But did the Evangelist have this internal connection between the event and the parable in mind? There are no direct indications of this in the Gospel, but he unintentionally lets reference to the unalterable obstinacy of the unbelief of the Jews slip from his pen and, having finished his depiction of the events of these two great days in the earthly life of the Savior, in disregard of his usual manner, he abandons the tone of an objective, unbiased narrator, and says: “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with. their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory and spake of Him” (Jn. 12:37-41).

Indeed the unbelief of the leaders of the Jews and of the more influential teachers of Jerusalem, not yielding before such a striking, obvious miracle performed in the sight of a whole crowd of people, is one of the amazing phenomena of the history of mankind; thenceforth, it ceased being unbelief, and became rather a conscious opposition to the obvious truth (“Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father” -Jn. 15:24), which is also expressed in the mood of the chief priests and the multitude of the people at the trial before Pilate.

In all five of his works, the Evangelist John discloses to his readers his main theme: that, as the world, that is, human obstinacy and malice, fought against Christ, even though His righteousness shone upon the world like the sun, so will it fight against His followers, hating their righteous life as Cain hated Abel (I Jn. 3:12), so will it hate God and His servants to the end of time, despite the manifest works of His might and His righteous retribution (Rev. 9:20, et al.)

We have long wished to publish an analysis of St. John’s writings as works which supplement the New Testament teachings of the first evangelists with a view to encouraging the Christian martyrs and shaming the faint-hearted (Rev. 21:8), both of which groups were awaiting the thousand-year reign of Christ in the lifetime of their own generation (II Thess. 2); official duties, however, deprive us of the opportunity of undertaking this worthwhile task in the near future, but we invite other lovers of the word of God to do so. Having set about it, they would see that all the narratives of the fourth Gospel are permeated and bound together by this thought; the entire Apocalypse is devoted to it, as are all three of the epistles of the Apostle.

The above-mentioned hindrance does not afford us an opportunity to verify our conjecture as to why the Lord called the blessed poor man of His parable by name. All the same, we know one very authoritative corroboration for it in Church teaching: viz., for six days, the whole of the sixth week of the Great Fast, the Church exalts Lazarus who was four days dead and the Lazarus of the parable. Having in mind not the enemies of Christ, but those who worship Him, who gather in the holy churches for the podvig of prayer, the Church teaches us to understand under the guise of both Lazaruses our sovereign mind and conscience, which the sinner neglects as the Rich Man did Lazarus, and which, having died within man’s soul, can be restored to life (like Lazarus who was four days dead) only by the power of Christ; but this connection is nearly the same which we indicated at the beginning of this article, the only difference being that here the historical Lazarus (four days dead) also takes on the significance of a moral symbol.

Instead of the struggle between faith and unbelief, the struggle in the soul of man between the passions and the conscience is depicted, since those who do not believe do not appear among those who pray; on the other hand, according to the teachings of Christ, the struggle between faith and unbelief takes place not in the realm of abstract thought, but is shown to be a particular aspect of the struggle between good and evil in our soul, the struggle between the passions and the conscience. Herein lies the explanation of the Lord’s words: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” The hard-hearted Jews’ disbelief in the risen Lazarus has borne out this saying with such force that now no one can consider it an exaggeration.

* There is a similar hint in the third Gospel: “But I am among you as he that serverth” (Lk. 22:27), which is elucidated in the fourth Gospel by the account of the Lord’s washing the feet of His disciples at the Mystical Supper.

Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt from the series The Biography and Works of His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galich, edited and compiled by Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky), (New York: 1969) Vol. XVII, pp. 49-54.

Taken from Orthodox Life, Volume 30, No. 2, March-April, 1980, pp. 18-22. Published by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York.

What is Orthodoxy?

By Archbishop Averky of Syracuse of blessed memory.

On the first Sunday of the Great Fast our Church celebrates the triumph of Orthodoxy, the victory of true Christian teaching over all perversions and distortions thereof — heresies and false teachings. On the second Sunday of the Great Fast it is as though this triumph of Orthodoxy is repeated and deepened in connection with the celebration of the memory of one of the greatest pillars of Orthodoxy, the hierarch Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, who by his grace-bearing eloquence and the example of his highly ascetic private life put to shame the teachers of falsehood who dared reject the very essence of.Orthodoxy, the podvig of prayer and fasting, which enlightens the human mind with the light of grace and makes it a communicant of the divine glory.

Alas! How few people there are in our times, even among the educated, and at times even among contemporary “theologians” and those in the ranks of the clergy, who understand correctly what Orthodoxy is and wherein its essence lies. They approach this question in an utterly external, formal manner and resolve it too primitively, even naively, overlooking its depths completely and not at all seeing the fullness of its spiritual contents.

The superficial opinion of the majority notwithstanding, Orthodoxy is not merely another of the many “Christian confessions” now in existence, or as it is expressed here in America “denominations.” Orthodoxy is the true, undistorted, unperverted by any human sophistry or invention, genuine teaching of Christ in all its purity and fullness — the teaching of faith and piety which is life according to the Faith.

Orthodoxy is not only the sum total of dogmas accepted as true in a purely formal manner. It is not only theory, but practice; it is not only right Faith, but a life which agrees in everything with this Faith. The true Orthodox Christian is not only he who thinks in an Orthodox manner, but who feels according to Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy, who strives to embody the true Orthodox teaching of Christ in his life.

“The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life”—thus the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples of His divine teaching (Jn. 6: 63). Consequently, the teaching of Christ is not only abstract theory merely, cut off from life, but spirit and life. Therefore, only he who thinks Orthodoxy, feels Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy can be considered Orthodox in actuality.

At the same time one must realize and remember that Orthodoxy is not only and always that which is officially called “Orthodox,” for in our false and evil times the appearance everywhere of pseudo-Orthodoxy which raises its head and is established in the world is an extremely grievous but, regrettably, an already unquestionable fact. This false Orthodoxy strives fiercely to substitute itself for true Orthodoxy, as in his time Antichrist will strive to supplant and replace Christ with himself.

Orthodoxy is not merely some type of purely earthly organization which is headed by patriarchs, bishops and priests who hold the ministry in the Church which officially is called “Orthodox.” Orthodoxy is the mystical “Body of Christ,” the Head of which is Christ Himself (see Eph. 1:22-23 and Col. 1:18, 24 et seq.), and its composition includes not only priests but all who truly believe in Christ, who have entered in a lawful way through Holy Baptism into the Church He founded, those living upon the earth and those who have died in the Faith and in piety.

The Orthodox Church is not any kind of “monopoly” or “business” of the clergy as think the ignorant and those alien to the spirit of the Church. It is not the patrimony of this or that hierarch or priest. It is the close-knit spiritual union of all who truly believe in Christ, who strive in a holy manner to keep the commandments of Christ with the sole aim of inheriting that eternal blessedness which Christ the Savior has prepared for us, and if they sin out of weakness, they sincerely repent and strive “to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (Lk. 3:8).

The Church, it is true, may not be removed completely from the world, for people enter her who are still living on the earth, and therefore the “earthly” element in her composition and external organization is unavoidable, yet the less of this “earthly” element there is, the better it will be for her eternal goals. In any case this “earthly” element should not obscure or suppress the purely spiritual element—the matter of salvation of the soul unto eternal life—for the sake of which the Church was both founded and exists.

The first and fundamental criterion, which we may use as a guide to distinguish the True Church of Christ from the false Churches (of which there are now so many!), is the fact that it has preserved the Truth intact, undistorted by human sophistries, for according to the Word of God, “the Church is the pillar and ground of truth” (I Tim. 3: 15), and therefore in her there can be no falsehood. Any which in its name officially proclaims or confirms any falsehood is already not the Church. Not only the higher servants of the Church, but the ranks of believing laymen must shun every falsehood, remembering the admonition of the Apostle: ”Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25), or “Lie not to one another” (Col. 3:9). Christians must always remember that according to the words of Christ the Savior, lying is from the devil, who “is a liar, and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). And so, where there is falsehood there is not the True Orthodox Church of Christ! There is instead a false church which the holy visionary vividly and clearly depicted in his Apocalypse as “a great whore that sitteth upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication” (Rev. 17:1-2).

Even in the Old Testament from the prophets of God we see that unfaithfulness to the True God frequently was represented by the image of adultery (see, for example, Ezek. 16:8-58, or 23:2-49). And it is terrifying for us not only to speak, but even to think that in our insane days we would have to observe not a few attempts to turn the very Church of Christ into a “brothel,”—and this not only in the above figurative sense, but also in the literal sense of this word, when it is so easy to justify oneself, fornication and every impurity are not even considered sins! We saw an example of this in the so-called “Living Churchmen” and “renovationists” in our unfortunate homeland after the Revolution, and now in the person of all the contemporary “modernists” who strive to lighten the easy yoke of Christ (Matt. 11:30) for themselves and betray the entire ascetic structure of our Holy Church, legalizing every transgression and moral impurity. To speak here about Orthodoxy, of course, is in no way proper despite the fact that the dogmas of the Faith remain untouched and unharmed!

True Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is alien to every dead formalism. In it there is no blind adherence to the “letter of the law,” for it is “spirit and life.” Where, from an external and purely formal point of view, everything seems quite correct and strictly legal, this does not mean that it is so in reality. In Orthodoxy there can be no place for Jesuitical casuistry; the favorite dictum of worldly jurists can. not be applied: “One may not trample upon the law—one must go around it.”

Orthodoxy is the one and only Truth, the pure Truth, without any admixture or the least shadow of falsehood, lie, evil or fraud.

The most essential thing in Orthodoxy is the podvig of prayer and fasting which the Church particularly extols during the second week of the Great Fast as the double-edged “wondrous sword” by which we strike the enemies of our salvation—the dark demonic power. It is through this podvig that our soul is illumined with grace-bearing divine light, as teaches St. Gregory Palamas, who is ‘triumphantly honored by the Holy Church on the second Sunday of the Great Fast. Glorifying his sacred memory, the Church calls this wondrous hierarch “the preacher of grace,” “the beacon of the Light,” “the preacher of the divine light,” “an immovable pillar for the Church.”

Christ the Savior Himself stressed the great significance of the podvig of prayer and fasting when His disciples found themselves unable to cast out demons from an unfortunate boy who was possessed. He told them clearly,`”This kind (of demon) goeth not out save by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). Interpreting this passage in the gospel narrative, our great patristic theologian-ascetic, the hierarch Theophan the Recluse asks, “May we think that where there is no prayer and fasting, there is a demon already?” And he replies, “We may. Demons, when entering into a person do not always betray their entry, but hide themselves, secretly teaching their hosts every evil and to turn aside every good. That person may be convinced that he is doing everything himself, while he is only carrying out the will of his enemy. Only take up prayer and fasting and the enemy will immediately leave and will wait elsewhere for an opportunity to return; and he really will return if prayer and fasting are soon abandoned” (Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 245-246).

From this a direct conclusion may be reached: where fasting and prayer are disregarded, neglected or completely set aside, there is no trace of Orthodoxy—there is the domain of demons who treat man as their own pathetic toy.

Behold, therefore, where all contemporary “modernism” leads, which demands “reform” in our Orthodox Church! All these liberal free thinkers and their lackies, who strive to belittle the significance of prayer and fasting, however much they shout and proclaim their alleged faithfulness to the dogmatic teaching of our Orthodox Church, cannot be considered really Orthodox, and have shown themselves to be apostates from Orthodoxy.

We will always remember that by itself totally formal Orthodoxy has no goal if it does not have “spirit and life”—and the “spirit and life” of Orthodoxy are first and foremost in the podvig of prayer and fasting; moreover, the genuine fasting of which the Church teaches is understood in this instance to be abstinence in every aspect, and not merely declining to taste non-Lenten foods.

Without podvig there is altogether no true Christianity, that is to say, Orthodoxy. See what Christ, the First Ascetic, Himself clearly says; “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). The true Christian, the Orthodox Christian, is only he who strives to emulate Christ in the bearing of the cross and is prepared to crucify himself in the Name of.Christ. The holy Apostles clearly taught this. Thus the Apostle Peter writes: “If when you do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is accepted with God. For even here unto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:2-21). In precisely the same way the holy Apostle Paul says repeatedly in his epistles that all true Christians must be ascetics, and the ascetic labor o’ the Christian consists of crucifying himself for the sake of Christ: “They that are Christians have crucified the flesh together with the passions and lusts” (Gal. 5:24). A favorite expression of St. Paul is that we must be crucified with Christ that we might rise with Him. He puts forth this thought in a variety of his sayings in many of his epistles.

You see, therefore, that one who loves only to spend time enjoying himself and does not think of self-denial and self-sacrifice, but continually wallows in every possible fleshly pleasure and delight is completely un-Orthodox, un-Christian. Concerning this the great ascetic of Christian antiquity, the Venerable Isaac the Syrian, taught well: “The way of God is a daily cross. No one ascends to heaven living cooly (i.e. comfortably, carefree, pleased with himself, without struggle). And of the cool path, we know where it ends” (Works, p. 158). This is that “wide and broad way” which, in the words of the Lord Himself, “leadeth to destruction” (Matt. 7:13).

This then is what is Orthodoxy, or True Christianity!

(Originally appeared in Orthodox Life, vol. 26, no. 3 (May-June, 1976), pp. 1-5. )

Living for the True God

This All-Holy Trinity, we pious Orthodox Christians, glorify and worship. He is the true God, and all other so-called gods are demons. And it is not we alone that believe, glorify, and worship the Holy Trinity, but angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts, as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea unceasingly praise in hymns and worship and glorify this All-Holy Trinity. Again, out of love for the Holy Trinity men and women as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea spilt their blood, and as many renounced the world and went to the deserts and led a life of spiritual endeavor, and still as many lived in the world with self-mastery and chastity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and other practices; and all went to Paradise and rejoice forever.

What does Christ tell us to do?

To think of our sins, of death, of Hell, of Paradise, of our soul which is more precious than the whole world, to eat and drink as much as is sufficient for us, similarly to have clothes that suffice, while the rest of our time we should spend for our soul, to render it a bride of Christ. Then we should be called men, and angels on earth. If, however, we concern ourselves with eating and drinking and sinning…we should not be called men but beasts. Therefore make your body a servant of the soul; then you may be called men.

Source: the Teachings of S. Cosmas Aitolos

On voluntary and involuntary sins

On voluntary and involuntary sins and what is the reason they are committed

There is sin, which is committed on account of a sickness whereby a person is attracted involuntarily, and there is sin which is committed voluntarily; there is also sin that exists out of one’s ignorance, which is committed depending on the circumstance. Then again, sin is committed out of one’s persistence in a sin, because of their habitual tendency towards evil. And although all these manners and kinds of sins are blameworthy, they nevertheless differ amongst themselves comparatively as regards punishment, given that the one manner is greater than the other, and the blameworthiness of the one manner is greater (and whose repentance is welcomed with difficulty), whereas the other’s repentance and forgiveness is easier.

And just as Adam, Eve and the serpent had sinned – and all three received the reward for their sin but inherited the curse with a significant difference – the same occurs with each of their sons and descendants, according to their predisposition; and whatever desire they may have for sin, they will savour the appropriate intensity of “hell”.

So, if one does not want to commit sin but on account of negligence (which he has in virtues), he is attracted violently towards it – because he is not engaged in it, even though it displeases him to find himself in sin – his “hell” (torment) will be severe. But if it happens that someone who engages in virtue is touched by a sin, the mercy of God is close by him, in order to cleanse him.

Different is the sin that is committed when a person is found to be engaged and persisting in the labours of virtue, being careful day and night – but because of a certain ignorance or certain contrary things on the path of virtue, or on account of the waves of the passions that are always aroused in his limbs, or on account of a change that may befall him for the testing of his self-government – the “scales that weigh him” will lean only slightly to the “left”, and, drawn by the weakness of the body, he will fall into a kind of sin – for which however he will be saddened and will be anxious and groan with a pained soul for the harassment that was imposed on him by the enemies.

Also different is the sin that is committed when a person is found lax and negligent in the labour of virtue, so that by abandoning altogether the path of virtue and hastening like a servant to the obedience of pleasure towards all sin, he shows zeal in how to invent arts and machinations for the full enjoyment of sin, and is ready – like some kind of servant – to diligently execute the will of his enemy, and to prepare his limbs as weapons of the devil, without in the least remembering repentance, nor heading towards virtue or desisting and putting an end to his disastrous path.

Yet another kind is the sin that is committed on account of a slip-up and falling out, which can occur on the path of virtue, for – as the Fathers have said – fall-outs and oppositions and compulsions and their likes are to be found on the path of virtue.

And finally, there is the downfall of the soul and the complete loss and final abandonment.

From the above therefore, it becomes obvious that when one falls, one must not altogether forget the love of his own father; rather, if he happens to fall into various misdemeanors, let him not show negligence towards the good and pause on the path of virtue; instead, even when he is defeated and fallen, let him stand up again and be ever-present in his fight against the enemy, and let him each day make a new beginning upon the foundations of the ruins of his edifice, while keeping in his mouth until his departure from this world the prophetic words: “let not my enemy rejoice that I have fallen, for I shall rise up again; and if I happen to sit in the dark, the Lord will shine upon me”. Let him not abandon and cease the battle until the hour of death, and let him not betray himself upon the defeat of his soul, while he still has breath. But, even if one day the vessel of his soul is shattered, and the merchandises of his virtues drowned, let him not cease to look after it and take care of it; instead, with borrowing and transitioning to other ships let him travel with hope until the Lord sees his struggles and on pitying his shattered state sends him His mercy and gives him strength to sustain the burning arrows of the enemy. And when he thus receives wisdom from God, he will then be a wise, sick person who had not excised his hope. It is far better to be vilified for a few things, rather than for the abandonment of all things; it is for this, that Abba Martinianos encourages and admonishes us to not become lax and cower in the face of the multitude of struggles and in the various ways of battle, but rather to persevere on the path of virtue and not turn back and deliver our victory to the enemy on account of one ugly work, for this blessed Elder – as a caring father – had with orderliness said these things.

Children, if you are true fighters preoccupied with virtue and caring for the salvation of your soul, you must desire and present your Nous clean to Christ, and work for that activity which is favourable to Him, because you must by all means undertake for the love of Christ every battle that is roused by natural passions, and for the resistance to this world, as well as the malice of the demons and their machinations. Do not fear the unflagging and persistent and violent nature of battle, nor hesitate about the duration of the struggle. Do not tire when frightened by the armies of the enemy, nor fall into the pit of despair. If you should happen to temporarily trip and sin, and suffer something in this major battle, and if you are beaten and wounded face-on, let this not in the least hinder your good intention, but instead, persist in that good labour which you had preferred, and thus achieve this desired and praiseworthy labour: that is, to appear steadfast and immoveable in that battle and painted with the blood of your wounds, never ceasing the fight with your opponent demons.

These are the counsels of the major Elder Martinianos, according to which, you must not be lax and negligent. Woe to that monk who appears to have lied about his promises; and, having trampled on his own conscience had extended and given his hand to the devil, who will proudfully come upon him for a minor or major sin, which will render him unable to thereafter stand up and face his enemies with the ruptured part of his soul. And I wonder, with what countenance will he face the Judge, when his cleansed friends and colleagues encounter each other, from whom he had departed and walked on the path of perdition and had lapsed from the Saints’ outspokenness before God, and from the prayer that ascends from a pure heart and rises up to heaven, passing unhindered through the Angelic ranks and achieves its petition, returning joyfully back to the mouth that had emitted it?

What is even more terrible is that by separating himself from his virtuous brethren, Christ will likewise separate him from them on that day, when the luminous cloud will be carrying their brightened bodies on it, and introducing them to the heavenly gates.

This is why the irreverent will not be resurrected on the day of judgment, given that their actions have been condemned from here; nor will the sinners find themselves before the will of the righteous on the day of the resurrection of the dead.

 

Source: Essay No.41 The Ascetic Words of Abba Isaac of Syria (book)

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