Introduction to the Orthodox spiritual life
Excerpt from the book Studime mbi Ortodoksinë
by Father George C. Papademetriou, 2012.
The sources of the Orthodox spiritual life are the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Tradition, the dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Synods, and the spiritual teachings of our orthodox Holy Fathers. The orthodox spiritual life is expressed primarily through prayer, living the Christian way every day, and worship, which ultimately leads us to union with the uncreated Divine Light.
Man and His Purpose as a Creature of God
Before discussing the spiritual life of the Orthodox Church, let us consider the purpose of man as a creature of God. Man was created in the image and likeness of God. The goal of mankind is not to achieve a mystical union with the essence of God, but to achieve a moral and spiritual perfection through participation in the uncreated divine energy.
Man, according to the Orthodox Fathers was not created perfect from the beginning. But he was created with the potential and opportunity to attain perfection through the grace of God. This, of course, was not achieved due to the fall into sin. When the time was fulfilled, God sent His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who became man, and through His sufferings and resurrection, He placed man in his original state of grace that allows man to attain perfection. Christ says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Man's ultimate goal, then, is to become perfect in God, through love. It means to attain the perfect and everlasting love of God and the love of one another.
Living with a perfect morality according to the Bible and the Church Fathers is a call to a life with Christ, that is, a Christ-like life. Consequently, the spiritual life of an Orthodox Christian is reflected as a life with Christ, a life of vows and commitments to God, and a complete obedience to His will. The Christian strives to do everything for the sake of Christ, as Christ wills and as Christ would do.
Christian commitment to Christ begins through an personal act of freedom, since it can not coerced by any external force, not even by God. "Man is free and has the opportunity to enter into relation with both kingdoms - the kingdom of light and that of darkness." These two spiritual and satanic kingdoms are hidden. They are not in the mind, but much deeper. They lie in the soul, "under the human mind, below the surface of thoughts," as St. Macarius wrote. This fourth century saint taught at that time about the notion of "heart" as a reality which is very closely relatable to what modern psychology calls the subconscious.
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Studime mbi Orthodhoksinë, prezantohet këtu për të informuar ata njerëz që nuk janë krishterë orthodhoksë, por që po konsiderojnë pagëzimin dhe Krishtërimin të bëhen anëtarë të Kishës Orthodhokse, si dhe për të gjithë ata që dëshirojnë të thellojnë njohuritë e tyre të adhurimi hyjnor dhe tradita Apostolike.
Ato u shkruan nga At George C. Papademetriou, profesor i fakultetit të Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School në Brookline, Massachusetts.