Knowledge vs. Living

Theology, such as it was understood and lived by the Spiritual Fathers, is not a system of religious knowledge, a collection of theoretical teachings or rational knowledge about God, but a direct experience and actual living of God’s work in one’s heart and life in the world. It is not a discourse-based science, a discussion about God, but a conversation WITH Him, which is done through prayer and in a state of complete cleanliness and abyss of humility. The God of the hermits is more living and real, and His presence is more intensely lived by them than those who speculate about God.

The question of God’s existence and work is not a speculative one, but one based on living, ascesis, and love. The measure of our partaking in the Lord is proportionate with our efforts to clean our passions off more and more and work upon our virtues ever more completely. And a person’s union with God is done in a state of ceaseless prayer and “supra-mindfulness”, in the midst of light and love. Which is why theology does not imply intelligence, but wisdom; neither does it imply a surplus of rationality, but a surplus of prayer.

Fr. Ioan C. Tesu

Excerpt from: http://www.crestinortodox.ro/credinta/prin-stiinta-spre-credinta-96167.html

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The Inner Warfare

Unifying all of one’s spiritual tendencies into a single path provides one with great capability. But that is very difficult to achieve, as there are tendencies that will resist it. Therefore, an inner warfare starts off inside man, in order to defeat the disobedient [forces]. This is how Blondel describes that strategy:

“There is in man a multiplicity of tendencies, of appetites that are more or less concerted or divergent, a «poly-psychism» that has been likened to as a large «nation» governed by reason and will, in which one finds both submissive and disciplined citizens, and recalcitrant and dissident ones. What has been called ascesis and spiritual combat is nothing but the manifestation and method that can be applied in this inner «history», in this «militia hominis adversus et propter semet ipsum». (…) Because any definite and determined position will be countered (out of a spirit of contradiction) by the «party» of the displeased. (…) Any of our initial efforts is like a war declaration against the softness and shallowness of the living energies, which they, too, have an instinct of conservation and independence”. This awakens within us an “alien or hostile awareness and new wishes that rise against one’s will.” (L’Action, vol. II, pp. 194-196I).

The really tough fight starts only within those who have decided to lead a life that is more compliant with the godly commands.”

Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae, Note #1 re: “St. Maximus the Confessor” (Philokalia (III), Humanitas, Bucharest, 2004, p. 182)