August 16

Those who pursue the carnal mode of life and in whom the will of the flesh is imperious…are not able to conform to God’s will (Romans 8:8). Their judgment is eclipsed and they are totally impervious to the rays of divine light: the engulfing clouds of the passions are like high walls that shut out the resplendence of the Spirit and leave them without illumination.

Their soul’s senses maimed, they cannot aspire to God’s spiritual beauty and see the light of the true life and so transcend the lowliness of visible things….they strive only for what is visible and corruptible, on this account fighting among themselves and even sacrificing their lives for such things, avid for wealth, glory and the pleasures of the flesh, and regarding the lack of any of these things as a disaster.

To such people applies the prophetic statement that comes from God’s own mouth: ‘My Spirit shall not remain in these men, for they are flesh’ (Genesis 6:3).

~Nikitas Stithatos

August 15

Love for God begins with detachment from things human and visible. Purification of heart and intellect marks the intermediate stage, for through such purification the eye of the intellect is spiritually unveiled and we attain knowledge of the kingdom of heaven hidden within us (Luke 17:21). The final stage is consummated in an irrepressible longing for the supranatural gifts of God and in a natural desire for union with God and for finding one’s abode in Him.

~Nikitas Stithatos

August 14

In the orthodox teaching we say that some belong to the state of the slave, others to the state of the hireling and others to the state of the son. In general, it must be pointed out that sin in the orthodox teaching is darkening of the nous, while repentance and forgiveness of sins are the illumination of the nous. Sin is regarded as an illness of the soul. Sin is not placed in a legal framework, but a medical one.

In conclusion we can say that our relationship with God should not be regarded as juridical, legal, but as personal ecclesiastical. The legalistic view is alien to the orthodox mind. When we think that God has been offended by the sin which we commit and that we must therefore do everything to appease Him, when our relationship with God is put on a business basis, then we are living in the legalistic spirit.

~Metropolitan Hierotheos

August 13

It is sinful to ascribe to God the characteristic features of fallen man, such as that God is angry and vengeful and therefore He must be propitiated and appeased. Such an attitude wants to make it appear that it is God Who needs curing and not man. But this is sacrilegious…we cannot say that God is offended…consequently, sin is not an offense to God, Who must be cured, but our own illness, and therefore we have need of a cure….

Sin injures man and because of it our whole existence is ill. Nor do we add anything to God by doxology, but we ourselves are sanctified and share in His glory. Thus through Christ’s incarnation and His sacrifice on the cross we have the restoration of man to his former glory and not a propitiation of God….

Thus by His sacrifice on the cross Christ did not propitiate His Father, but He cured the ailing nature of man….the Father neither asked nor needed the blood of His only begotten Son. But Christ offered it in order to cure man and to sanctify him.

~Metropolitan Hierotheos

 

August 12

A result of the darkening of his noetic energy is that man’s relationship with God and his fellow man is upset. Because of his darkened nous, man does not find meaning in life, he turns his attention to the external things, with the result that he comes to blows with men, he has no inner peace. This is analyzed in a wonderful way by St Gregory Palamas. Fallen man uses God to safeguard his individual security and regards his neighbor as an object for predatory exploitation.

He cannot have selfless love, because all his expressions and all his love contain the element of self-seeking, which is to say that man is characterized by self-seeking love. So the darkening of the nous has drastic social consequences. Sociology cannot be regarded as independent of theology.

~Metropolitan Hierotheos

August 11

If we want to look more concretely at the matter of the fall we will say that, as St John of Damaskos teaches, the fall in reality is darkness of the image, loss of the divine life and putting on coats of skin. The darkness of the image is nothing else but the darkening of the nous. The nous was darkened and could not have communion and unity with God….according to the anthropology of the Fathers, man’s soul is rational and noetic. This means that man has two centers of functioning. One is the reasoning mind, which is connected with his nervous system, and the other his nous, which is connected with his heart.

Adam’s fall, then, is the darkening of his nous, the loss of its noetic function, confusion of the nous with the functions of reason and its enslavement to the passions and to the environment. Instead of moving according to nature and above nature, instead of moving towards God and being mindful of God, man’s nous is turned towards the created things and the passions.

That is why in the Church we speak of repentance, which is not simply a change in the head, as some theologians say, but a change of the nous. The nous must break away from the created and the passions and turn towards God.

~Metropolitan Hierotheos

August 10

To those newly engaged in spiritual warfare illness is salutary, for it contributes to reducing and subduing the ebullience of the flesh. It greatly debilitates the flesh and attenuates the soul’s materialistic propensities, while at the same time it invigorates and braces the soul, in accordance with St Paul’s words, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corninthians 12:10).

~Nikitas Stithatos