Saturday, 3 November 2012

ELDER AIMILIANOS-On The State That Jesus Confers

If you wish to see God, my beloved children,there's only one thing to do:go to church filled with longing to see His face,filled with divine and heavenly desire to be able,somehow,to feel the presence of your Helper and Defender.When you do this,your soul will experience an initially strange feeling;it is God touching your heart.And what will the heart do in response?Will it laugh and rejoice?No.It will be filled with a blessed,godly grief,and begin to weep and lament.In the presence of the Lord,you'll feel your heart-which is like a useless sack-filling to the brim with the sense of its own emptiness and thereby overflowing with tears.And these tears will be its secret cry,saying:Where are You,Lord?Have mercy on me."
"Where are You,Lord?"That is the heart's first cry.But it immediately realizes that it's not able to see God,and that,if it did,it would lose its life(cf.Ex 33.20)correcting its mistake,it continues:"Grant me Your mercy.You are my mercy.Yours is mercy,I am Yours,and You alone can have mercy upon me; You alone can bring me up from the pit of tribulation,from the depths of Your absence and my absence-Your absence from me,and mine from Your own spiritual life."

When the soul begins to cry-and it cries to God,my beloved,very easily indeed,because God,in a sense,is the soul's only surviving relative,and what could be more natural than that it should seek Him,and that it should cry when it realizes that it cannot see Him?When you allow your soul to cry,when you reject everything that cuts off the flow of your tears,then you'll have a feeling of much greater intimacy with God.You'll understand that now someone else governs your life.You'll sense that now someone else has grasped the tiller,someone else has taken hold of the wheel(indeed of your own hands) and is now directly guiding you Himself.You become someone guided by the grace of God.

We are guided by God's grace,to which you can surrender yourself in all confidence.Indeed,it is impossible for you to do the slightest thing without it.Consider the glory of the stars,the magnificence of the heavens,and the wonders of the earth:none of these can give you anything at all.The only thing that can fashion a new heart within you(cf.Ezek 11.19),rendering the old one utterly useless,is the power of God's grace.

When you surrender yourself to God,moreover,your soul will experience three things:contemplation,prayer,and theology.
To begin with,you will contemplate all things in the church spiritually-and you will even be able to do so with your physical eyes,although that kind of seeing is acquired only after many struggles.In the meantime,you contemplate things spiritually.Your eyes have adjusted.The darkness dissipates and the shadows disappear.You contemplate the One Who Is(Ex 3.14) coming towards you.You contemplate the depths of your soul being kneaded by grace,like dough being kneaded into bread.
Your soul is now a malleable lump kneaded by the hands of God.You see your soul being worked on,passing through His fingers,and you're happy,so happy,at being in His hands,and watching them at work.Do you see His Face?Not yet.His back parts?(cf.Ex 33.23)No,for that would require the power and holiness of Moses.All you see is His hand,as we see it in certain icons,emerging from a cloud in order to bless the saint standing below it.And now you are standing next to God.watching His hand as it kneads you soul.

Not only do you contemplate,but you also begin to pray.Whatever you've done up until now,whatever you've said,even if you were praying,was nothing more than childish prattle,the nursery songs and infantile outbursts of your soul(cf.1 Cor 13.11).They were expressions of your ego,and as such did not enable you to ascend to God.But now you are praying,and this prayer is given to you,placed within your heart,by the Holy Spirit,Who intercedes with sighs too deep for words(Rom 8.26).Now grace itself,God Himself,places prayer within your soul,in the mouth of your soul.Now you are praying.

It is terrible to think that even if a man prays in the morning and at night,as much as seven times a day(Ps 118.164).his prayer may remain earth-bound,nothing more than a little jump just a few inches off the ground.How horrifying it is indeed when the words of our prayers are not the words of God,through which alone we are able to pray.

But now we truly pray,because previously we had truly contemplated:our spiritual vision was true.Now we can pray because contemplation unites us with everything.For example,now I see you,and thus I can embrace you.So too do we see the hand of God and take hold of it, so too do we lay hold of His grace.Now we're able to pray to him,because we know Him.Can you speak to an unknown God?What will you say to Him?But now that you see Him kneading your soul in His hands,you can say."Dear God,relax Your grip a little,"or"Dear God,pummel me.because my heart is still like a stone,"or"Stop a bit,Lord,I'm tired," and again,"Take me up,Lord,I can stand it:this is what I want,what I desire."There is so much that you can say,and your words are a prayer,and your prayer becomes theology.
You see,you pray,and you theologize:these are the three things we do when we leave the world and enter the church.

"You Theologize." what does that mean?You begin to think about God,so that, within yourself,you begin to speak about Him.You begin to understand God based on real,experiential knowledge of Him.You become a person who knows God.You theologize.And that means that your words, tempered by knowledge,begin to express the truth of your experience.When I see you,and recognize you,I say:"Ah,its you!"That's how it is.Previously your soul was trying to say something but you couldn't understand what it was.But now it cries out Abba,Father!(cf.Rom 8.15;Gal 4.6) and with those words you become a theologian; you discover that your mind is in God,that your word is God.You've captured God in the most delicate fibers of your heart and spirit.
Now you can understand and come to know God.and you can talk to Him.What more could you possibly desire?Now you understand that to know God means to taste God.The knowledge of God is my nourishment.I have eaten God.This is why,when the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers talk about the word of God,they say:"Eat and drink it"(cf.Mt4.4;Lk 4.4).


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