All of St. Theophan’s life was a path to Christ. Why is that so? The saint well understood that mankind’s first parents chose the path of sin, and all our problems proceeded from this. “Man fell and perished in his fall. For his salvation the Only-Begotten Son of God came to earth and showed the path of salvation.”
In our days, we observe an unhealthy process of growing up: First children are encouraged to progress more quickly into the category of teenagers (this traumatizes and incapacitates children), and then the brakes are put on, and teenagers aren’t allowed to become adults (they are prevented from developing).
In the nomadic camps of the desert, in the fields and pastures, in the cities of the Promised Land, they heard the Lord, and they turned away from God’s path. The Lord punished them and they repented, and the inimitable story of salvation continued. God was with them … and He is near now.
Look at how dynamic the Gospel of Mark is, just like our life now. One event in it is replaced by another, one after another, and all of this without any pause, without delay; but there is no hustle and bustle in sight. At the same time, there is a tangible, high degree of dynamism in all the descriptions. Therefore, a strong bond is maintained between the rapidly advancing Gospel events. Separate stories are quickly lined up in a sequence of events as Christ’s chosen path, and not scattered in a flash before the reader as incoherent episodes from the life of ancient eastern cities.
St. John Cassian expressed not simply his own theological opinion, but gave voice to the experience of the hesychastic monks’ ascetical experience of synergy. Striving for their own salvation, the hesychasts saw and understood that asceticism is salvific then and only then when two powers are at work within it in harmony—the Divine and the human. God and man are co-workers in the cause of salvation; their synergy leads sinners into the Heavenly Kingdom.
As long as there are repenting sinners on the earth, as long as there is a remnant of the people of God, the history of salvation is not finished. The Lord is continuing to save people. Do we not read about the apple of the eye of the Most High in the New Testament? The Savior says in a parable of the Heavenly Kingdom, For many are called, but few are chosen (Mt. 22:14). The Lord highly values every one of us; the hairs are numbered on the heads of the elect.
“A Word on the Subtle Stage of Discernment” by Abba Isaac the Syrian speaks of a passion’s activity, about the assault and consent... It’s a miracle how discerning St. Isaac the Syrian is! He traces all the various ways a sinful thought takes root in the human soul. Abba Isaac reveals the gift of spiritual discernment in all its might.
The Lord showed through the prophet and through his family how the God-chosen nation lives, and what awaits them. The scene was rather horrifying: The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take to thyself a wife of fornication, and children of fornication: for the land will surely go a-whoring in departing from the Lord (Hos. 1:2).
It all began with our forefathers, Adam and Eve. They received a commandment in paradise not to taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. 2:17). The commandment not to “taste of this or that” is quite well known to any Orthodox Christian. This is the commandment to fast—the most ancient, beginning factor of family life.
The Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. The Book of Job reveals its meaning in an amazing way. It is read during the church services during Great Lent. This book prepares us to meet with the Suffering and Risen Christ. What does the Old Testament tell us about? It tells us about the interrelationship between God and man, just as do all the other Old Testament books. The Lord rules the world, rewards the righteous, and punishes sinners. However, as we can see from the Book of Job, not every affliction is punishment for sin.