September 30

If God once swore to non-believers that they would never enter into His rest–and it was on account of their lack of faith that they could not do so (cf. Hebrews 3:18-19)–how can mere bodily discipline, in the absence of faith, enable us to enter the rest of dispassion and the perfection of spiritual knowledge? We do in fact see many who because of this are unable to enter and to rest from their labors.

We must therefore be wary lest we possess an evil, unbelieving heart (cf. Hebrews 3:12), and because of this are thwarted of rest and perfection, in spite of our great labors. Otherwise we will be ceaselessly involved in the toils of the ascetic life and will always eat the bread of sorrow (cf. Psalm 127:2).

If a sabbath rest awaits us–the rest of dispassion and of perfect gnosis–let us through faith strive to enter into it, and not fall short of it because of our unbelief in the same way as those mentioned in the Bible (cf. Hebrews 4:9-11).

~Nikitas Stithatos

September 29

If carrying out the law does not make you pure in the sight of God (cf. Galatians 2:16), then neither will ascetic struggle and labor alone perfect you in God’s sight. We do indeed receive our grounding in virtue and check the activity of the passions through ascetic practice; but we are not initiated into the fullness of Christ through that alone. What, then, brings us to perfection? An ingrained faith in God, the ‘faith that makes real the things for which we hope’ (Hebrews 11:1), the faith whereby Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain and was commended as righteous (cf. Hebrews 11:4), and whereby Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out and sojourn in the promised land (cf. Hebrews 11:8).

It is such faith that fills those assiduous in the search for truth with great aspiration for the exalted gifts of God, and leads them to the spiritual knowledge of created beings; and it pours into their hearts the inexhaustible treasures of the Spirit, enabling them to bring thence new and old mysteries of God (cf. Matthew 13:52) and to reveal them to the needy. He who is blessed with such faith is initiated by love into the knowledge of God, and has entered into God’s rest, having ceased from all his labors as God did from His (cf. Hebrews 4:10).

~Nikitas Stithatos

September 28

If you patiently carry out the commandments in accordance with your outer and your inner self, and look only to the glory of God, you will be given the honor of heavenly knowledge, peace of soul and incorruptibility; for you carry out, and do not simply hear, the law of grace (cf. James 1:25). God will not condemn your knowledge, since your actions will bear witness to it. On the contrary, He will glorify it through the words of knowledge spoken by those who by virtue of His wisdom shine as beacons in the Church of the faithful; for God is ‘impartial’ (Romans 2:11).

If on the other hand your endeavors are prompted by selfish ambition and you reject the teachings of those inspired by the Holy Spirit, trusting in your own understanding and in the deceptive words of those clad merely in the outward forms of piety and incited by a vainglorious and hedonistic spirit, then you will be filled with affliction and anguish, with envy, anger and animosity (cf. Romans 2:8-9). Such will be the immediate reward for your delusion, and such at your death–when God judges the secrets of men and renders to each according to his actions (cf. Romans 2:6)–will be the sentence for your mutually self-accursing, self-defending thoughts.

~Nikitas Stithatos

Morning At The Comedy Pond

I love this time of year:

when the geese come,

and the ducks,

and a gentle breeze blows through the reeds.

 

Everyone is on the move now,

while I stand silently.

I smile, as I listen,

to the ducks as they laugh—

 

they chuckle jovially,

as they lift into the air.

They are a humorous bunch—

come listen, and see.

 

A group of them are swimming about in the early morning light,

testing their jokes on one another as they pass—

a chuckle here and a chortle there—

it is a good morning.

 

Suddenly erupts

a hearty guffaw from the entire group.

I couldn’t hear what was said,

but I laugh along with them anyway.

 

They clap their wings,

the show is over,

and they fly away.

 

I stand motionlessly

at the waters edge,

as joy takes flight within my heart.

 

~FS

September 27

The Spirit is light, life, and peace. If consequently you are illumined by the Spirit your own life is imbued with peace and serenity. Because of this you are filled with the spiritual knowledge of created beings and the wisdom of the Logos; you are granted the intellect of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16); and you come to know the mysteries of God’s kingdom (cf. Luke 8:10). Thus you penetrate into the depths of the Divine and daily from an untroubled and illumined heart you utter words of life for the benefit of others; for you yourself are full of benediction, since you have within you Goodness itself that utters things new and old (cf. Matthew 13:52).

~Nikitas Stithatos

September 26

The mystical and perfective stage pertains to those who have already passed through all things and have come to ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13). It is characterized by the transcending of the sphere of demonic powers and of all sublunar things, by our attaining to the higher celestial ranks, approaching the primordial light and plumbing the depths of God through the Spirit. It involves immersing our contemplative intellect in the inner principles of providence, justice and truth, and also the interpretation of the arcane symbolism, parables and obscure passages in Holy Scripture.

Its final goal is our initiation into the hidden mysteries of God and our being filled with ineffable wisdom through union with the Holy Spirit, so that each becomes a wise theologian in the great Church of God, illuminating others with the inner meaning of theology.

He who has reached this point through the deepest humility and compunction has, like another Paul, been caught up into the third heaven of theology, and has heard indescribable things which he who is still dominated by the sense-world is not permitted to hear (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4); and he experiences unutterable blessings, such as no eye has seen or ear heard (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9).

He becomes a steward of God’s mysteries (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1), for he is God’s mouthpiece, and through words he communicates these mysteries to other people; and in this he finds blessed repose. For he is now perfected in the perfect God, united in the company of other theologians with the supreme angelic powers of the Cherubim and Seraphim, in whom dwells the principle of wisdom and spiritual knowledge.

~Nikitas Stithatos

September 25

The illuminative state pertains to those who as a result of their struggles have attained the first level of dispassion. It is characterized by the spiritual knowledge of created beings, the contemplation of their inner essences and communion in the Holy Spirit. It involves the intellect’s purification by divine fire, the noetic opening of the eyes of the heart, and the birth of the Logos accompanied by sublime intellections of spiritual knowledge.

Its final goal is the elucidation of the nature of created things by the Logos of Wisdom, insight into divine and human affairs, and the revelation of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Luke 8:10). He who has reached this point through the inner activity of the intellect rides, like another Elijah (cf. 2 Kings 2:11), in a chariot of fire drawn by the quaternity of the virtues; and while still living he is raised to the noetic realm and traverses the heavens, since he has risen above the lowliness of the body.

~Nikitas Stithatos