devotional

Aim and means of Christian life

A Monk of the Eastern Church

The aim of man’s life is union (henosis) with God and eification (theosis). The Greek Fathers have used the erm ‘deification’ to a greater extent than the Latin

Fathers. What is meant is not, of course, a pantheistic identity, but a sharing, through grace, in the divine life: ‘whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature’ [2 Pet. 1.4].

Union with God

This participation takes man within the life of the three Divine Persons themselves, in the incessant circulation and overflowing of love which courses between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, and which expresses the very nature of God. Here is the true and eternal bliss of man.

Union with God is the perfect fulfilment of the ‘kingdom’ announced by the Gospel, and of that charity or love which sums up all the Law and the Prophets. Only in union with the life of the Three Persons is man enabled to love God with his whole heart, soul and mind, and his neighbour as himself.

Union between God and Man cannot be achieved without a Mediator, who is the Word made Flesh, our Lord Jesus

Christ: ‘I am the Way... no man cometh unto the Father but by me’ [John 14.6].

Incorporation into Christ

In the Son we become sons. Incorporation into Christ is the only means to reach our supernatural end. The Holy Ghost operates and perfects this Incorporation. St Irenaeus writes: ‘Through the Spirit one ascends to the Son and through the Son to the Father.’

The fact that the object of Christian spirituality is the supernatural life of the soul and not the natural effects, either normal or supernormal, obtained by human disciplines, even when they are called ‘religious’, cannot be over emphasized. What is here in question is the action of God on the soul, and not the human actions on the soul itself. The basis of spiritual life is not psychological, but ontological. Therefore an accurate treatise on spirituality is not the description of certain states of the soul, mystical or otherwise, but the objective application of definite theo logical principles to the individual soul. The redeeming action of our Lord constitutes the alpha and omega as well as the centre of Christian spirituality. ND

From Orthodox Spirituality by a Monk of the Eastern Church

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