This evening we made a transition from Conference 22 to Conference 23, the last of Abba Theonas's three conferences. Our discussion began with clarifying the fact that even the righteous and holy are in need of repentance and often fall, albeit unwillingly, into the sin of distraction and being pulled away from the goal of the spiritual life - Theoria, or contemplation of God. In the light of divine goodness, all human goodness may be referred to as evil, "Thus, although the value of all the virtues . . . is good and precious in itself, it is nonetheless obscured upon comparison with the brilliance of theoria. For it greatly hinders and holds back holy persons from the contemplation of that sublime good if they are take up with what are still earthly pursuits, even if they are good works." We have been created for God and intimacy with God; back to and greater than that state of original innocence and constant communion with the Lord before the Fall. We must be careful, then, not to see the pursuit of virtue or the avoidance of vice as the goal or end of the spiritual life, although they are essential to it. These things cannot be separated from our desire for God and intimacy with Him. Nor can we achieve them outside of His grace. If abstracted from the love of God and the desire to live in that love - the spiritual life can become lifeless and devoid of meaning.
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