Jesus Prayer, Eucharist, Spiritual Father

A Talk On the Spiritual Life and Ascetics in a Tbilisi Church, Part 1

Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol recently met with Archpriest Theodore Gignadze and the other clerics of the Holy Cross Church in Tbilisi to discuss the spiritual life.


Tell us about the importance of the Jesus Prayer.

—Prayer is the labor and activity that man was engaged in before the Fall.

In Paradise, man had unceasing prayer, that is, his nous and heart were always directed to the Lord—it was prayerful communication with the Heavenly Father.

Therefore, a man who constantly tries to delve into unceasing prayer is, we can say, in the angelic state that existed before the Fall.

This is about the state the holy angels are in now, consisting of continually remembering God and constantly striving for [spiritual] love.

Thus, prayer is the condition and result of the spiritual healing of man.

Although, of course, prayer doesn’t stand apart in the spiritual life—the other virtues of life in the Spirit are implied together with it.

For a man to be able to pray correctly, he absolutely must observe the commandments of Christ and participate in the Sacraments of the Church.

How possible is it for a layman to seek God through the noetic Jesus Prayer?

—As we know, there are many types of prayer: psalmody, various prayer rules, the prayerful words of the Divine Liturgy… These are all forms of prayer. It’s just that noetic prayer, as we see it in the Holy Fathers, is a more accessible and practical form of prayer for every Christian, including for laymen. Our goal isn’t any kind of external method, but Christ Himself.

How often should we commune?

—Christ tells us: This do in remembrance of Me (Lk. 22:19).

Given that we have such a duty, and that it’s necessary that a man always remember God, we should approach this holy Sacrament often.

The Divine Liturgy is the most important thing a man can do in this world.

We must commune often, but only after appropriate preparation…

What is the proper way to choose a spiritual guide?

—First of all, he must believe correctly, be truly Orthodox, and lead a proper lifestyle. This is the most important thing.

And after that, our heart should feel and verify for us that this is the man who will guide and help us draw nearer to Christ.

It’s extremely important for us to have someone in our life who will correctly guide us in the spiritual life. This is the greatest mystery in which the Lord acts for the salvation of a man’s soul, and this grace, of course, operates within the Church.

And when someone is consulting with his spiritual father and humbly asks him what to do, God accepts this humility as a sacrifice and reveals His holy will to him.

According to the rules and canons, a spiritual father should be a blameless spiritual guide, in the sense that he mustn’t have any shortcomings that would be an obstacle to his priesthood and spiritual mentorship.

If you see that your spiritual father, as a spiritual healer, can’t help you in the healing of your soul, you should go find another spiritual father.

You have to pray and seek and the Lord will surely help you find the man who will contribute to the salvation of your soul.

And most importantly, a man must never be alone, without a spiritual father.

If a man can’t find another spiritual father, it’s better to remain with the one he has, so as not to be completely without guidance, which would be worse and even disastrous for him.

We mustn’t go to a new spiritual father with the attitude that the previous one was bad so we’re switching to a better one.

A man must humble himself and say: “Since I’m so sinful, and it’s so difficult to correct me, I need a stronger doctor, and that’s why I’m switching to another one.”

To be continued…

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol
Translated from Georgian by David Tavartkiladze
Translation by Jesse Dominick


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