"Without God’s Grace, we can do nothing"
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"Without God’s Grace, we can do nothing."
On Divine Energy
Saint Gregory of Sinai writes, "The ENERGY OF GRACE is the power of SPIRITUAL FINE that fills the heart with joy and gladness, stabilizes, warms and PURIFIES THE SOUl, temporarily stills our provocative thoughts, and for a time suspends the body’s impulsions. The signs and fruits that testify to its authenticity ARE TEARS, CONTRITION, HUMILITY, SELF-CONTROL, SILENCE, PATIENCE, SELF-EFFACEMENT, and similar qualities, all of which constitute undeniable evidence of its presence." (The Philokalia)
"Grace-imbued faith," writes Saint Gregory of Sinai, "energized by the Spirit through our keeping of the commandments, alone suffices for salvation, provided we sustain it and do not opt for a dead AND INTELLECTUAL FAITH rather than for A LIVING EFFECTIVE FAITH IN CHRIST. To embody and give life to an effective faith in Christ IS ALL WE NEED TO DO AS BELIEVERS. But nowadays we who call ourselves orthodox believers have in our ignorance imbibed not the faith imbued with grace but a faith that IS MERELY A MATTER OF WORDS, DEAD AND UNFEELING." (The Philokalia, p, 217).
Saint Gregory continues in his explanation of grace. He states, "Grace begins to operate in people in different ways, for, as the Apostle says, the Spirit distributes Himself as He wills in a variety of modes, and is perceived and known correspondingly (cf. Hebrew 2:4). Elijah the Tishbite serves here an example for us (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-12). In some, the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe, disolving mountains of the passions, and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation or what the holy Fathers more clearly define as a sense of exaltation. Finaly, in others–particularly in those well advanced in prayer–God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the heart, as Saint Paul says, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the Saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit." (Philokalia, p. 285) The goal of THEOSIS (Deification), "THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED WITH ALLL THE FULNESS OF GOD" (v. 19), is accomplished by the working together, the SYNERGISM, of OUR FAITH AND LOVE with God’s POWER and SPIRIT IN US (v.20).
All that one does should be done with the knowledge with the understanding that without Christ "we can do nothing" John 15:5), that is nothing which is properly motivated and gives glory to God. How can one get from the one kingdom to the other? (vv. 1-7). By the unity of GRACE, FAITH, AND WORKS (vv.7-9). Not that these are equal, for GRACE IS UNCREATED and INFINITE, our faith IS LIMITED AND CAN GROW, and good works flow out of authentic faith. Works CANNOT EARN US this great treasure–IT IS A PURE GIFT–but those who receive this gift do good. We are not saved by good works, but FOR GOOD WORKS (v. 10).
Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us, "to each of us grace was given ACCORDING TO THE MEASURE OF Christ’s gift" (4:7). While the The Holy Church is one in essence, it is DIVERSE IN GIFTS and FUNCTION. Unity does not mean uniformity. Each member is unique before God, with gifts and roles GRANTED BY Him. Diversity in operation is (a) based on the ascent of the Sono and the Descent of the Holy Spirit (vv. 8-10) (b) guided by especially gifted people (v. 11), (c) for the sake of the maturity and stability of the body (vv. 12-16).
Why is there a diversity of persons and giftings in the Church? For the unity of service, for the preservation of the truth, and for the operation of love, the primary quality of Christian growth. The Holy Chuch, in which Christian life develops, is not primarily an organization, BUT AN ORGANISM WHOSE PARTS OR MEMBERS RECEIVE their edififying power from Christ. The holy Apostle Paul does not see the Christian as an isolated indivitual walking towards perfection, but as a member of the body, striving TO REACH THE PERFECT FAITH AND FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD. Thus UNITY OF FAITH CANNOT BE SEPERATED FROM KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD.
According to the Orthodox Churc "Grace is a power sent down from on High, the power of God which is in the Church of Christ, which gives birth, gives life, perfects, and brings the believing and virtuous Christian to the appropriation of the salvation which has been brought by the Lord Jesus Christ.." Therefore, as Orthodox Christians need to totally surrender to the Divine power and cooperate knowing that all that is given to us is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit. "Except the Lord build the house of virtues, we labor in vain" (Psalm 126:1).
As we approach Holy and Great Lent we are reminded of our ascetic struggle. But what is the importance of the ascetic struggle? It is a weapon against "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). The world distorts every realm of God’s good creation by physical passions, exagerated possessions, power and honors, pride and greed. The genuine ascetic practices- PRAYER, FASTING, CHARITY help us to ovecome these dangerous distortions and live lives of virtue.
Among the many other responsibilities we have during the holy season of Great Lent is to seek spiritual cleansing. It is the field of our soul from stones, overgrown weeds, and swampy places, in preparation for a sacred sowing, which will be moistened from above by the Grace of God. "The Grace which is the power of the Holy Spirit that penetrates the inward being of man, leading TO HIS SPIRITUAL PERFECTION AND SALVATION."
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God