Archive for struggle asceticism orthodox orthodoxy christianity isaac syrian seraphim

The Struggle.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 21, 2009 by Blake

Sweet, sweet serenity… crystalline pure silence, the mystery of the age to come, completely exalted and wholly different in essence than the false glitter of this world — the satanic noise, infernal chaos, that I, in my indifference, have become so accustomed to. How I long for even a moment’s peace of spirit and clarity of mind, the rapture of soul and utter abasement of the body if only for a moment, and even if within the world. Not a clarity of worldly knowledge or even theological, but the harmony and wakeful lucidity of walking with Christ, the descent into a heart made pure by His grace. Who am I that I should place my cares above God, I who am made of dust, who’s thoughts are vain, against He who existed before all ages? Why do I tarry in vineyards which divert my attention from the state of my soul to a fruitless harvest? For though I tarry, and I reap, I sew nothing which will be taken with me into the next life. Though I fall, and I get up, I hardly retain any knowledge of value, and scarcely lift a finger to fight my passions when they come again.

My troubled soul, perturbed as an ocean within raging storms, no consolation have you found in me, who am a thrall in mind. Scarcely a hope do you have when you have knowledge of saving truth, but will not put yourself to the tasks at hand required of you for your salvation. Your pitiable state of despondency leaves you sleeping, and though death comes soon, you lie in slumber. Where is your spiritual reading, your repetitive prayer rule, your Psaltery, your virtue? Dormant, beneath the murky waters and evil fantasies.

And yet still… escaping the noise, and affirming my thoughts by the thoughts of my Patron Saint Isaac the Syrian, my sins are as a handful of dust cast into an endless ocean. God’s mercy is evident in every moment of my life, for though I deserve death and hell I am given another hour for repentance. The devil’s of despondency are complimented by the devil’s of despair, and silencing one, silences the other. Standing aright, I must sign myself with the Cross, and call ceaselessly upon the name of Jesus, that I may crush the heads of the infants of Babylon upon the rocks. I must break Babylon daily, I must rouse within myself an effort to pray, even if I must make a new start every day, for His grace is sufficient and His strength is evident in my manifold weaknesses. Even if dejected and humbled down to the earth, I must find within me even a spark of zeal, and even if on forced lips I must pray to the Lord my God, and He will strengthen me in His goodness. For, as St. Isaac the Syrian tells us, to stand is not within our own power, nor does it pertain to our virtue, but we are carried by grace itself, as though upon the palm of it’s hand.

As the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force, following the examples of denial and asceticism paved by St John the Baptist, so too must I embark on a spiritual path. I am promised nothing as a Christian, no glory or fame or riches, I am only promised a cross, “let us expect nothing more out of Christianity than to be crucified.” (Father Seraphim Rose of Platina) But it is with this cross that we have the eternal promise, so long as we bear it, and even if we stumble with it all our lives… we may one day receive crowns of glory, a Heavenly glory, not of this world. We may be before Him as His humble and lowly servants, basking in His Light, accounted worthy not through our own efforts, but by following the example of the Cross.

God be attentive to helping me, O Lord make haste to help me, let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul… let them be turned to shame that desire evils against me.

Glory to Your Wisdom, Exalted King above all ages. Glory to God for all things.