"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ravishing the Soul With Self-Esteem

"Just as self-esteem (presumably-κενοδοξια: vainglory, self esteem, empty pride) ravishes the soul aloft and gives it freedom to float amid the clouds of its thoughts and to wander all over creation; so humility collects the soul into singleness by silence and makes it concentrate within itself. As the soul, living in the body, is hidden from sight and communion with people; so a truly humble man not only does not wish to be seen or known by others, but more, his will is to plunge away from himself into himself, to become nothing, as if not existing, not yet come into being. And while such a man is hidden, enclosed within himself and withdrawn from the world, he remains wholly with his Lord.

"A humble man never stops to look at gatherings, crowds, excitement, noise, merrymaking; he does not pay attention to words, conversations, calls or anything that disperses the senses; he is not wishful to possess many things and be constantly occupied with activities, but wants to be always free, without cares, that he may keep his thoughts from going out of him. For he is sure that if he becomes involved in many things, he will be unable to keep his thoughts undisturbed, since numerous activities produce many cares and a swarm of complicated thoughts; and this opens the door of passions, banishes calm discrimination and closes the door to peace. Therefore a humble man protects himself from all the multiple, and thus ever remains in stillness, quiet, peace, modesty and reverence.

"A humble man is never hurried, hasty or perturbed, never has any hot or flitting thoughts, but at all times remains calm. Nothing can ever surprise, disturb or dismay him, for he suffers neither fear nor change in tribulations, neither surprise nor elation in enjoyment. All his joy and gladness are in what is pleasing to his Lord.

"A humble man does not dare even to pray or petition God about something, and does not know what to ask for; he simply keeps all his senses silent and waits only for mercy and for whatever the Most Worshipful Majesty may be pleased to send him. When he bows down with his face to the earth, and the inner eyes of his heart are raised to the gates of the Holy of Holies, where He dwells Whose abode is darkness , before whom the Seraphim close their eyes, he dares only to speak and pray thus: 'May Thy will be done upon me, O Lord!'

"Walk before God in simplicity, and not is subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God."

St. Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training, from Early Fathers from the Philokalia, Faber, pp. 214-215.

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