March 10

Where there is the love of God, “Christ is all and in all” and “there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man” “neither male nor female.” On the contrary, where self-love reigns, there one sees only oppositions, divisions, rivalries, envy, jealousy, dissensions, enmity, quarrels, aggression, all manifestations which are the fruits of this passion, as are unsociability, injustice, the exploitation of others and even murders and wars.

Self-love appears then to be deeply pathogenic on many levels, and is considered by the Fathers–as much in its nature as in its effects–as the mark of a man who has become mad and as itself being mad and profoundly irrational.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.1, pp.149-150)

To Be Taken Internally

The Jesus Prayer can be strong medicine in the battle against our passions, but it must be applied to the source of our illness. It does no good to treat a stomach ache by applying ointment to the surface of the skin; so too is it ineffective to say the Jesus Prayer with inattention or a distracted mind. To fight our passions with this prayer—to combat sadness, or anger or sinful thoughts with it—requires that it be applied deep into our heart, the place of these illnesses, and this necessitates vigilant and focused prayer, developed with effort and mental focus over time.

~FS

March 8

“Behold what ought to be the point of departure for a profitable journey according to God. You must always go over in your memory, and guard in unceasing meditation, the remembrance of the goodness of God Who has ordered your life’s course according to His design, of His benefits that aim at your soul’s salvation. Do not let your memory be darkened by vice, the source of indifference; neither lose the remembrance of the multitude and extent of His graces and consequently spend the rest of time without profit in ingratitude. For this ceaseless remembrance pricks the heart like a thorn, at all times pushing it to confession, humility, thanksgiving with a crushed soul, great zeal as regards the good, so as to offer in return a way of life, profitable conduct and all virtue according to God…[He who] does not allow himself to fall into the forgetfulness of such benefits…directs himself towards all the good ascesis of virtue and towards every work of justice with an ever-sustained ardor always disposed to carrying out God’s will.”

                                                            ~St Mark the Ascetic

Dangerous Rapturous Love

I have often struggled with the imposition that is Christian love;
a love so different from the love that is often exchanged in our world,
a love that asks us to give our lives away incrementally, or all at once…
What would we have and where would we be, had Christ turned away from His cross?
If His love was not sacrificial love, and had He not given His life away?
Instead, perhaps merely leaving us with a kind word, and a smile, and wishing us the best…
Is there a true love that won’t also require us to sacrifice ourselves?
This is a love that is risky, dangerous, and can expose us to losses;
literal losses of money, property, time, sleep—
and other essential, or superfluous pleasures.
Christian love is the prototype and embodiment of selflessness,
when practiced in its pure form, following in the steps of our namesake.
Worldly prudence has taught me to count the costs, weigh the risks,
and back away from any that cross the line, that are too costly.
Divine prudence teaches me to give more,
to extend this line further towards my neighbor, or erase the line altogether.
Experience has shown me that sacrificial love engenders a joyful bliss,
a type of euphoria, and a freedom that calls out from within me, wildly…
and rapturously,
when I am courageous enough to follow, and do this love—
the will of my Lord.
 
~FS

March 6

Scientific knowledge itself is not neutral; but, as St Gregory Palamas emphasizes (in this matter the most modern epistemological thinking concurs with him), it is relative “to the intention of those who make use of it,” “appearing according to the thought of those who make use of it and easily taking the form which is given it by the point of view of those who possess it.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.1, p.62)

March 5

Having lost the true knowledge of reality that he possessed in the Spirit, but nonetheless needing knowledge, fallen man ends up replacing this knowledge not by another single knowledge, but by a multitude of forms of knowledge of all sorts, corresponding to the multitude of appearances among which he henceforth moves. St Mark the Ascetic thus notes that its ignorance and forgetfulness of God “cast a pall of terrible and unstable curiosity over the soul.”

But the types of knowledge resulting from this loss are partial, shifting, differing, even opposed to one another–just like the phenomenal realities to which they apply. Man, in his substitutive forms of knowledge, is limited to classifying the appearances of things–these appearances that per se have no objectivity–since they are defined by the deformed and fallen intellect of their observer.

…Fallen man’s various forms of knowledge are thus nothing more than illusory projections of his fallen consciousness, and even where an objectivity or truth seems to have been attained (such as in scientific knowledge), this objectivity and truth can be reduced as a matter of fact to the temporary agreement of states of consciousness producing the same type of projection and being in accordance with one another in some way in their common state of decline.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.1, pp.61-62)

March 4

Thus, fallen man replaces the worship of the Creator with the worship of creatures. Idolatry exists not only in the oft-taken forms of organized religion, in which creatures are explicitly defined as gods, but also in all man’s attitude vis-a-vis being, when this being is taken as an end and is endowed with a sense and value per se, instead of these latter being recognized in God. Idolatry also exists in every activity and effort consecrated upon a being per se, instead of being consecrated to God through it. One holds an idolatrous attitude towards a being whenever this being stops being transparent to God, stops revealing Him–in other words, whenever man stops perceiving its spiritual ‘reasons’ and ‘perceiving’ in them the divine energies present in them that define its true nature.

Thus this being hides God instead of manifesting Him; it is closed in on itself in a way instead of serving as a stepping stone for man, that he might be raised up to his Creator.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.1, pp.58-59)