Philokalia Ministries

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Nineteen

July 9, 2020

Tonight we read the 19th letter of the Saint to the young Anastasia and the beginning of the 20th. Theophan finally comes to the point of describing for her the seed of inner confusion that we experience as human beings, our ancestral sin. We struggle with a disordered state, a disease, that has become deeply rooted within us and given rise to the worst of destructive forces - the passions. It is not natural! In other words,  God has not created us in this fashion. Our forebearers took a path that led them away from God and, as it were, casts the gifts that He had bestowed upon them back in His face. They treated God not as benevolent and loving but as an obstacle to their happiness. The loss was immeasurable. Theophan wants Anastasia to have as her deepest conviction the fact that  this disorderliness is not what God intended. She must fight against the view that there is no hope for a cure, that there is no hope for the dignity of the humanity to be restored. This must be our fight as well. The passions destroyed our consciousness of self and freedom. In the face of this we must make our one goal in life to abide in God in every way and to rejoice in Him alone.


Text of chat during the group:

00:47:43 Mary Schott: Is it not "natural" because the loss of preternatural gifts?

00:52:24 Eric Williams: If you want to read a saint who doesn't make *anything* sound easy, I highly recommend Ephraim the Syrian. :)

00:59:46 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: I think that "loss of preternatural gifts" is a western term or concept. Generally speaking Eastern Christian authors speak or write from the point of view that sin makes us sub-natural whereas holiness is natural to the human condition. One has to translate in the back of one's mind ... in the west the term "supernatural" is used where Easterners use "natural", and the western "natural" is "sub-natural" in the East.

01:08:45 Joe and Larissa Tristano: Fr John, agreed, amartyia, Greek for sin means to “miss the mark” - the passions are birth defects of the soul

01:08:53 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: ...and so, in the East, a "sub-natural" human being is thus "sub-human" or "inhumane", and the holy person is "natural" and "human".

01:09:10 Joe and Larissa Tristano: Yes! Christ being THE Human!

01:09:19 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: exactly!!!

01:15:09 carolnypaver: Holy gifts to holy people….

01:21:18 Mary McLeod: Thanks everyone!


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