Sunday, February 25, 2018

Theology is the content of our prayers ( Elder Sophrony )

The contemporary spiritual, theological problem concerns the person [πρόσωπο]… Revelation reveals that “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). If He says, “I am” it means that He is a person. The word “I” has great significance. For it expresses the person. God says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Science cannot say this. Only revelation can say this. And we need to base ourselves on revelation, which the Lord never refuted…Theology is the content of our prayers. And an example of this theology is the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. 
The whole anaphora is theology and is expressed through prayer. But then theology comes as a state of being. John the Theologian, from an academic point of view, was not a theologian, he says things simply. His theology, however, is a state of being. Whatever he says becomes dogma for everyone. But the only study that enables us to sense what God is like, is the ascetic life according to the commandments of the Gospel. 
When our life is lived according to the will of God, then we understand that there cannot be a difference between the commandments and the mind of God Himself. When we think according to the commandments, then our mind gets used to thinking as God Himself thinks. And regarding theosis, they say: but what is theosis? With obedience to the abbot from the beginning, one’s will is cut off, then in obedience to the Gospel commandments one reaches this state. We do small things but the results must become great. 
Through obedience we enter into the life of divine Being. We have good descriptions of this in the writings of St. Nicodemus the Athonite. I have told others, as well, that when they learn things from the world, they are living in sin. They need to free themselves through asceticism. This is how I tried to make them understand the need for patience. 
Just as the Incarnation was a great kenotic act, where Christ God became man as one person and bore our sins patiently with humility and love. In following Him, we become true persons in Him and realize our life and fully live our freedom. It is here where personhood finds its greatest achievement: in putting on Christ and His indwelling in us by the Holy Spirit sent from God the Father. The very essence of our life must become constant personal encounter with Christ, and in this we become truly persons, truly free, truly loving. This is how personhood is understood in theosis. 
We fulfill our personhood in living in Christ and His dwelling within us, and inasmuch as He has perfected humanity, He raises us in freedom, in love, to the fulfillment of our humanity, as true persons in Him. 
Elder Sophrony