THREE GREAT CHRISTIAN VIRTUES

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THREE GREAT CHRISTIAN VIRTUES

VIRGINITY, which is classified into virginity of the body and that of the soul, cures the passion of self-indulgence. Virginity is practiced within the overall perspective determined by our Orthodox Tradition. It is not just a matter of avoiding certain bodily sins, indispensable as that is, but also rejecting sensual pleasure within the soul, as well as throwing out thoughts and desires concerning carnal matters. Virginity is practiced through WHOLEHEARTED PRAYER to God, the prayer of the NOUS in the heart, which is an act of perfect love and consecration to God. Such prayer is a sign that a person IS A TEMPLE of the All-Holy Spirit.

POVERTY is divided into physical and mental poverty, as the monk should not just reject possessions and money, but whatever he regards as sacred property or wealth, especially what is referred to as “THE WEALTH OF THE MIND” which prevents him from making his way to God without distractions. The purpose of poverty or common ownership is, on the one hand, to enable the monk to fight THE PASSION OF LOVE FOR MONEY AND POSSESSIONS AND, ON THE OTHER, TO ENABLE HIM TO BE CONSTANTLY FREE TO DEVOTE HIMSELF WHOLLY TO GOD. It is not just a sociological virtue, but a virtue to be seen in the perspective of a monk’s RENUNCIATION AND HIS JOURNEY TO DEIFICATIION (THEOSIS).

OBEDIENCE belongs in the context of the monk’s RELEASE FROM THE OBSESSIVE THOUGHT AND POWERFUL PASSION OF LOVE OF PRAISE. This passion led to Adam’s Fall because he wanted to become God WITHOUT THE ASCETICISM THAT GOD HIMSELF HAD IMPOSED ON HIM. He would have been able to achieve deification (theosis) THROUGH OBEYING GOD’S commandments but, as Saint John Climacus says, DISOBEDIENCE BROUGHT DEATH. This is why OBEDIENCE SETS THINGS RIGHT AND LEADS MAN TO THE STATE THAT Adam was in before the Fall. Elder (Geronda) Ephraim of Katounakia emphasized the importance of obedience, and indeed taught that a monk comes to the monastery IN ORDER TO BE OBEDIENT; OBEDIENCE WILL LEAD TO PRAYER, AND PRAYER WILL LEAD TO THEOLOGY.

These three monastic virtues, which ARE ACTUALLY CHRISTIAN VIRTUES, are what constitute THE EVANGELICAL LIFE. With modification, THEY CAN BE LIVED BY Christians WHO DESIRE TO BE SAVED. The three are closely interrelated. If someone practices just one of them and neglects the others, he ends up with Pharisaic righteousness, HE BECOMES A HYPOCRITE and is dominated by SELF-SUFFICIENCY that does not lead to salvation.

If we examine the matter carefully, we see that THE THREE PASSIONS (LOVE OF RICHES, LOVE OF SENSUAL PLEASURE, AND LOVE OF PRAISE) ARE THE DEEPEST, WORST PASSIONS OF HUMANKIND. They are the SCOURGE OF HUMAN BEINGS and CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY. Love of riches aggravates social problems and makes them worse, because wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people at the expense of the majority. The poor struggle in acquiring wealth with the result that there are constant clashes between people on the personal and social levels. Love of sensual pleasure is connected with all kinds of sensual deviations, which not only create immense problems IN A PERSON’S SOUL, pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt, and depression, but also problems in the community, including murder and possessiveness. As for LOVE OF PRAISE, it gives rise to inner insecurity, as well as various ideological and philosophical trends that are a threat to social cohesion.

The three monastic virtues (VIRGINITY, POVERTY, AND OBEDIENCE) HEAL MAN AND SET HIM FREE FROM THE TYRANNICAL PASSIONS (SELF-INDULGENCE, AVARICE, AND LOVE OF PRAISE) WITHIN HIM. Most significantly of all, The monk who strives to live these three virtues and do battle with the corresponding passions is delivered from SELF-LOVE, WHICH IS THE MOTHER OF ALL THE PASSIONS. Thus, he acquires the love of God and his fellow human beings. This is the method BY WHICH MAN IS HEALED AND DEIFIED, and which makes a monk a vessel of the All-Holy Spirit as he receives WITHIN HIM THE GRACE OF GOD THAT PURIFIES, ILLUMINES AND DEIFIES HIM. (Source: Orthodox Monasticism as the Way of Life, of Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS).

____________________

“Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!”

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