My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
"Then God formed man out of dust from the ground,
and breathed in his face the BREATH OF LIFE, AND
MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL." (Genesis 2:7).
It is very clear in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament that God formed Adam’s body "out of dust from the ground." The "breath of life" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, "THE GIVER OF LIFE" (the Creed). The Almighty and Merciful God breathed THE BREATH OF LIFE into man’s body, and he became "A LIVING SOUL." Therefore, Adam was "a living soul" because he possessed a body, A SOUL, and the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Patristic consensus is that man is composed of BODY and SOUL, and the SPIRIT (NOUS) is the highest and purest part OF THE SOUL. The spirit (nous) of man is created, and must never be confused with the Holy Spirit, Who is Uncreated. At Baptism, however, the Uncreated Grace of God, which man lost at the fall, is once again united with the nous. Thus, Saint Diadochos of Photike writes: "The Grace of God dwells in the very depths of the soul–that is to say, the nous. (Philokalia, vol. I, p. 280).
"The spiritual man possesses a soul, but being REBORN, he cultivates in himself the seeds of Grace; he grows and brings forth fruits of the spirit. However, by carelessness towards his SPIRITUAL LIFE HE MAY DESCEND TO THE LEVEL OF THE FLESHLY OR NATURAL MAN ("Are you so foolish? Having begun in the spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3) Therefore, there are no grounds for supposing that the thinking of the Apostle Paul is not in agreement with the teaching that the NATURE OF MAN CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS."
"First of all, the image of God may be seen only in the soul, not in the body. According to His Nature, God is most pure Spirit, not clothed in any kind of body and not a partaker of any kind of materiality. Therefore the image of God can refer ONLY TO THE IMMATERIAL SOUL–many Holy Fathers of the Church have considered it necessary to give this warning."
Man BEARS THE IMAGE OF GOD IN THE HIGHEST QUALITIES OF THE SOUL, especially in the soul’s IMMORTALITY, IN THE FREEDOM OF WILL, IN ITS REASON, AND IN ITS CAPABILITY FOR PURE LOVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF GAIN.
a) The Eternal God gave IMMORTALITY OF SOUL TO MAN, even though the soul is immortal NOT by nature but ONLY BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
b) God is completely free in His actions, and He gave man FREE WILL and the ability to act freely within certain boundaries.
c) God IS MOST WISE, and He has given man A REASON WHICH IS CAPABLE OF BEING NOT LIMITED only to earthly needs and to the visible side of things, but IS CAPABLE OF PENETRATING TO THEIR DEPTHS OF RECOGNIZING AND EXPLAINING THEIR INWARD MEANING. Man’s reason is able to rise to the level of that which is invisible and to strive in thought toward the very Source of all that exists–GOD. Man’s reason makes his will conscious and authentically free because it can choose that which corresponds to man’s highest dignity rather than that to which his lower nature inclines him.
d) God created man in His goodness, and He has NEVER LEFT HIM NOR EVER WILL LEAVE HIM WITHOUT HIS AGAPE (LOVE). Man, having received HIS SOUL FROM THE BREATHING OF GOD, STRIVES TOWARD HIS FIRST Principle, God, as toward something akin to himself, seeking and thirsting FOR UNION WITH Him. This is specifically shown in the straight and upright posture of his body, and his gaze, which turns up toward heaven. Thus, striving toward and love for God expresses the IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN.
In summary, one may say that all of the good and noble qualities and capabilities of the soul are an expression of the image of God in man."
[Orthodox Dogmatic Theology]
It is up to every Orthodox Christian believer to nourish, protect, and cleanse his/her soul and seek the grace of the Holy Spirit. No one should ever neglect that which gives life to the body, the soul. Without a soul, there is no life. One simply needs to view a dead body to know that this lifeless mass of flesh is missing the soul which gave it life. Man unfortunately is a sarkolatres, a worshipper of the flesh. The human being is totally committed to everything pertaining to the body, e.i., feeding it, cleaning it, exercising it, clothing it, beautifying it, and satisfying all its desires and passions. But what does the human offer to his/her soul? The average person and specifically a Christian even, gives no attention to the soul at all. And yet, the soul also needs to be nourished, cleansed, to be spiritually exercised (ascesis), to be clothed with the Light of goodness, faith, and love, to beautify it through works of mercy and kindness, energized and deify it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit. The soul needs to be in constant union with its Creator.
Every Orthodox Christian understands that the best way to serve the spiritual needs of the soul is to have a strong and consistent prayer life and a sacramental life. Through participation in the Holy Eucharist, we become one with Christ and with one another. We are spiritually cleansed through the Mysterion of Repentance/Confession, we are healed through the Mystery of the Holy Oil (Holy Unction), and we are reborn through the Mystery of Holy Baptism. One should see how very important and necessary it is for all Orthodox Christians to adhere to the guidance of our Holy Church. This is how the Orthodox Christian who practices his/her faith maintains his/her soul.
The enemy and the threat to the soul is apostasy from its Creator. It is living a life of disobedience to the will of God. It is rebelling and refusing to follow His Commandments. It is giving to the passions and evil thoughts that we are constantly assaulted with by the evil one.
It is our lukewarm faith, our weak faith, our lack of commitment, and our lack of good works, that puts our souls at risk. Our soul is our greatest God-given gift and treasure. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ exhorts us: "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, AND LOSES HIS OWN SOUL? OR WHAT WILL A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS SOUL?" (Matthew 16:26).
My beloved be vigilant and protect your soul tenderly and consciously and with all your might for your life depends on it.
Prayer for the Beginning of the Day
O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things
to rely upon Your Holy Will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surrounded me. Teach me to treat all that comes
to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with a firm conviction that
from Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and
feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach
me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give
me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray. And, Yourself, pray in me. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in the Divine and Glorious Resurrection of our Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God