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The engraving of Christ in man's heart: The Lord God hath spoken

The engraving of Christ in man's heart: The Lord God hath spoken

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The engraving of Christ in man's heart: The Lord God hath spoken

Lunghezza:
384 pagine
6 ore
Pubblicato:
Mar 21, 2021
ISBN:
9791220280938
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

«… The words that proceed from the mouth of God, either through the Prophets or the Apostles, or the Holy Fathers who were well-pleasing to God throughout the centuries, cannot but make known the attributes of the Living Lord. They reveal His almighty power, the majesty of His holiness, His wisdom, and above all, the greater love of the Son of Love, Who, ‘while we were yet sinners, died for us’. The word of the Lord portrays our archetype who is the Son and Word of God, in Whose image we were created in the beginning.
Νot only does the energy of the word of the Lord portray the archetype and reveal the pre-eternal Council of God concerning man, but it also exposes the pitiful distortion of man after the fall. Man finds his truth not in comparing himself with other mortals, but in his presentation before the Lord Who speaks in his heart…
Who is he, however, who will hear the voice of Christ, the Word Giver, who will see His form, and will not be changed and will not repent or alter his path?
Who is he who will taste of the words of the Almighty Jesus and not burn until the end with gratitude?
Who is he to whom the Lord will entrust the words of His Father, and who will not love Him until the end, even unto self-hatred?»
Pubblicato:
Mar 21, 2021
ISBN:
9791220280938
Formato:
Libro

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The engraving of Christ in man's heart - Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

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THE ENGRAVING OF CHRIST

IN MAN’S HEART

father Zacharias

Archimandrite ZACHARIAS (Zacharou)

THE ENGRAVING OF CHRIST

IN MAN’S HEART

STAVROPEGIC MONASTERY

OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

ESSEX 2021

Digital Creation-Design

website: www.presence.gr

email: contact@presence.gr

Title of the original:

ΤΟ ΧΑΡΑΓΜΑ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ

ΣΤΗΝ ΚΑΡΔΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΥ

ISBN original 978-1-874679-99–8

Copyright © The Stavropegic Monastery

of St John the Baptist, Essex, UK.

Published by

the Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist

Tolleshunt Knights, by Maldon

ESSEX CM9 8EZ, UK

ISBN 978-1-909649-13-2

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, withoutthe prior permission in writing of the Monastery.

Contents

PROLOGUE

A.  MAN AND SPIRITUAL VISION

A1.  PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN THE LIGHT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

A2.  THE DESPONDENCY OF THE WORLD AND THE ZEAL OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD

A3.  BECOMING A DWELLING PLACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE MYSTERIES OF THE CHURCH

A4.  HARD SAYINGS OF SAINT SILOUAN AND ELDER SOPHRONY

A5.  BASIC ASPECTS OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

A6.  THE TWOFOLD VISION OF SPIRITUAL LIFE

B.  THE WORD OF GOD AND DIVINE WORSHIP

B1.  THE CHRISTIAN SERMON

B2.  DIVINE WORSHIP

B3.  IMPARTING LOVE FOR DIVINE WORSHIP TO YOUNG PEOPLE

B4.  THE ZEAL OF DIVINE WORSHIP

B5.  THE TRANSFORMATION OF SHAME INTO POWER AGAINST THE PASSIONS IN THE MYSTERY OF REPENTANCE AND HOLY CONFESSION.

B6.  FROM THANKSGIVING TO REPENTANCE

B7.  CELEBRATION AND EXPERIENCE OF THE DIVINE LITURGY

C.  THE GIFT OF PRIESTHOOD

C1.  THE SUPRA-COSMIC GIFT OF PRIESTHOOD AS A MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE WORLD AND GOD

C2.  PROPHETIC LIFE AND AUTHENTICITY IN THE CHURCH

C3.  THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE

C4.  DIVINE INSPIRATION

D.  THE PATH OF MONASTICISM

D1.  THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE

D2.  CHRISTIAN ASCETICISM

D3.  LIVING ‘OUTSIDE THE CAMP OF THE WORLD’

D4.  SPIRITUAL HUMILITY

D5.  THE MONASTERY AS A PLACE OF GOD’S GOOD PLEASURE

D6.  THE SPIRIT OF CENOBITIC LIFE

D7.  THE MYSTERY OF HESYCHIA

E.  CASTING OFF THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD

E1.  THE EXPERIENCE OF GODLY SUFFERING

E2.  THE PARADOXICAL CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL

E3.  OVERTURNING THE PYRAMID OF THE CREATED WORLD

E4.  THE NOBLE SCIENCE OF SAINT SILOUAN AND ELDER SOPHRONY

E5.  CHRIST’S CROSS: JUSTIFICATION OF GOD AND MAN

EPILOGUE

INDEX OF BIBLICAL REFERENCES

PROLOGUE

For many years we delighted in the joy and consolation of the word of God from the mouth of our beloved Elder, Archimandrite Sophrony, who was above all a man of the word of God. Now, as debtors of ten thousand talents, we feel the obligation to impart to our fellows something, even just a few crumbs, of that with which we were so richly fed from his table while he was with us.

During that time, we saw that the knowledge of the Person of Christ held his heart captive. His word was always full of wisdom and power, which sprang forth from the mystery and the example of the life of the Saviour God. It was sweet, and, when pronounced, it conveyed fear and inspiration accompanied by strong comfort to our spirit. Every time that we heard his word, the saying of the Prophet Amos resounded in our mind and heart with awe: ‘The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?’ (3:8)

Archimandrite Zacharias

A.

MAN

AND SPIRITUAL VISION

A1.

PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN THE LIGHT

OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

LOVE IS THE ONLY THING worth living for. Nothing else can give meaning to our life. However, the human love to which we are accustomed is entirely different from divine love; it is just a weak shadow of it. When love is expressed merely on the level of the flesh, it is not even love, but only the stirring of passion for another person. It deadens the soul and renders us unable to relate to God and consequently to other people, because it is prompted by the passion of the love of pleasure, and by pride.

When love is expressed as an ideal on the intellectual and psychological level, since it is still based on a weak and passionate individual, it results in even greater disappointment, making our spirit desolate and grievously wounding our soul, so we are even more difficult to cure.

Around us we see only tragedies and broken relationships. Nevertheless we think that we will manage better. Unfortunately, we are ignorant of the measure of our fall and of how weak we are. We expect perfect and dynamic love from those around us, who have the same passions as us, whilst we ourselves are unable to offer this because we are all bound by the strong bonds and heavy burdens of sin.

Our mistake is that we expect those around us, that is, sick and fallen creatures, to fulfil our innate need for love, which is something that only God can truly satisfy. We are deceived when we expect to receive from men something that God alone can give us. He instilled in us the desire for love, and He alone can satisfy it. We will know Him through love and become like Him through love.

When the winds of the temptations of the world begin to blow, even the most perfect relationships which seem to be incredibly good and strong, fall apart, and all that one is left with are the broken pieces which pitifully cry out, ‘How could this happen?’

Human love preserves something of the sacrificial element found in divine love. It gives itself to the end and lives in the beloved, around whom all its happiness and life revolves. When, however, we betray it, then love ends up empty and lost. Nothing remains of those good, strong feelings that once were there, the wound is unbearable, and the whole person is shaken and shattered. Life loses its meaning. Then, in their complete desperation, how often do people not come to the point of committing suicide in order to be freed from their pain?

When we are confronted by the ruins of human love and find ourselves completely broken, then two solutions can be given: either we turn to God with our pain, so that God enters our life and renews us, or we continue to be deceived by our human plans and slide from one tragedy and barrenness of soul to another, hoping that one day we will find perfection. The drama continues until we come to realise that we cannot achieve this on our own.

We need a third Person in our relationships. Just as the priests, who embrace one another at the heart of the Divine Liturgy, say, ‘Christ is in our midst’, so we should do the same in our life. God is not an intruder in our personal relationships, but is the One Who will cleanse and perfect them. He will make them secure because His great and eternal love will strengthen and inspire them. This is exactly why we run to the Church, where the grace of God in the sacrament of marriage, will sanctify the union of the man and woman so that they will complement each other with their talents and work together for a perfection which will be reflected not only in their loving relationship in this life, but in the eternity of the Kingdom to come. The Lord said, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’¹

If we perceive the deceptiveness of searching for a perfect and ideal relationship between two people, and are convinced of this, then we will understand that our deep and innate desire for a loving relationship can only be fulfilled by God, our Maker, our Provider and our Redeemer. Thus we begin an infinitely creative and life-giving journey with God. The stronger our bond of love with God becomes, the purer and stronger will be our love in any horizontal direction. This love will be healthy and powerful in the perspective of our only true love, which is God Himself, and will only then have value, because it will be free, in other words, sinless.

When the passion of the flesh is active, it clouds the intellect and makes man unsuitable for spiritual progress and the acquisition of divine love. Any kind of love which is independent of God is ontologically self-destructive. When our vertical relationship with God is true and strong, then all our other relationships on the horizontal level will be pure and strong. We must undertake the struggle of our own free will and offer a sacrifice if we wish our relationships with God and our fellows to be successful.

If we understand that in our present state, we are unable to fulfil our boundless desire for love, then maybe we will be more humble and discerning in the love we expect from our human relationships. If we become aware of our poverty and wretchedness, but also of the greatness of God’s merciful love, we will acquire compassion and offer forgiveness. We will be purified of our selfishness and treat others with respect and freedom. We will accept them as they are, without wishing to make them ‘perfect’ according to our way of thinking, and will not make demands on them, nor seek to dominate them.

When we make contact with God, the broken pieces of our former life are restored. Our heart is freed from the burden of the past and dares to love God and our fellow once again. We are no longer scared of being vulnerable and do not fence ourselves around with walls for protection, because from now on we do not trust in ourselves, but in Him Who can raise the dead. If, however, we do not have true love in our life, inspired by a relationship with God, then we will not be able to escape one of these two classic temptations: if we happen to be psychologically stronger, we will do anything we can to dominate our fellow and take advantage of him, but if we are weaker psychologically then we will become the victim of the passion of ambition in others. A relationship under such conditions is indeed unhappy and graceless. It is in fact slavery.

When we come to know God, and in our relationship with Him are initiated into the mystery of the person, of the human hypostasis, made in the image and likeness of God, then we will be able to meet every other person with fear, respect and humble love, with the knowledge that in God’s eyes, every human soul is more precious than all the world. Gradually we will also learn to love others unconditionally, without being selfish, and with true fidelity. In this way we maintain our own personal freedom so as to continue our discipleship at the Cross of Christ, which is the most wonderful and beneficial thing in our life. In this relationship, putting Christ first as the ultimate Other, we will find our true identity, because when we are with Him, we can lose and find our life again, confident that we are safe.

We find confirmation for all that we mentioned above in God’s Revelation. In chapter thirty two of Genesis, the strange and amazing battle between God and Jacob is described. We see how, following the suggestion of his mother, Jacob robbed Esau of the firstborn’s blessing, taking it from his father Isaac. Even though Rebecca expressed the will of God at that moment, for, ‘as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’,² nevertheless Jacob was obliged to go into exile in order to escape his brother Esau’s fury in his desire to destroy him.

Jacob went into the wilderness where he suffered for many years, working hard for his father-in-law, Laban, and his household. Yet God was with him, and He blessed all his undertakings richly. As time passed, Jacob started to grow weary and God commanded him to return to his father’s home. He found himself in a terrible dilemma. If he stayed in the wilderness he would not last, but if he returned, he feared the threat of death he faced from Esau. In response, he isolated himself and stood all night in prayer before God. At daybreak he felt the presence of Someone Strong and intensified his prayer, saying, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’³ God responded to Jacob and said, ‘for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’⁴

The following day, sealed by God’s blessing, Jacob went out to meet Esau. Instead of killing him, Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and wept, and their love for one another was restored. God’s blessing on Jacob was so powerful, that when he met Esau, he saw his wild brother’s face as if it were ‘the face of God’.

We can see therefore, that, if in our relations with God we find this supernatural contact with Him, then all our contact with people will be overshadowed by this divine blessing.

When we follow the Lord, we have only one care: to please Him and thank Him in all we do. But we must first establish a true relationship. We must cultivate the humility of the Publican and the determined repentance of the Prodigal Son. Each man’s relationship with God is unique. For God has created each in such a way that his particular relationship to his Creator will fulfil and perfect him. He must therefore make it his only mission and purpose to build a strong relationship with Christ and to be in constant dialogue with Him. All our human relationships will derive strength from this relationship with God, and we will begin to see everything, every element of the created world in the light of this relationship. And if we make it our concern to improve our relationship with Him, deep repentance will spring forth within us. And the more we grow in Christ, the more clearly we will know our poverty, and our inspiration will always be renewed. We will fear nothing because nothing will be able to separate us from His love.

In the world to come, we will continue the relationship with our Saviour which we have built up in this life. We will be judged according to our love, according to each word of Christ contained in the Gospel. Just as He asked Peter after His Resurrection, ‘Lovest thou me?’ so in the age to come He will ask each one of us the same question, and we too will reply, ‘Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love thee.’⁶ But the strength and boldness of our reply will depend entirely on the depth of our relationship with the Person of Christ. Whatever attitude we adopt in this life will continue beyond the grave. This is clear from the Gospel account of the judgment of the righteous, who utter the humble thought which nourished their repentance: ‘Lord, when did we anything good upon earth? To Thee be the glory, to us the shame.’⁷ We must learn the humility of this attitude now, and then we will be able to live eternally with the Lord. Arrogance and self-justification have no place in Him, but they can accompany us into eternity, leading towards eternal separation from Him.

For us, paradise is Christ. Saint Silouan says, ‘If all men would repent and keep God’s commandments, there would be paradise on earth, for the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the same in heaven and on earth.’⁸ Paradise begins on earth through love for God and love for our fellows. In this lies the entire wealth of eternal life, for man has been created to give eternal glory to God. His delight is to return this glory to His image, man, who then returns greater glory to his Creator. And so we enter into this endless cycle of glorification and love, the ‘divine increase’ of which is man’s true fulfilment, as his calling is to become the very likeness of God.

In both marriage and monasticism we apply the same Christian principles; for example Elder Sophrony said that even one evil thought against our brother ‘causes a crack in the wall of our spiritual stronghold’.⁹ Furthermore, he emphasised that each of us when we stand before God, should carry in our hearts all of our brethren. In this way, the unity of the brethren is achieved in the heart of each one of us, not simply in the heart of the Abbot.

Why is it that, as Elder Sophrony drew to our attention, one evil thought causes a crack in the wall of our spiritual fortification? It is because when we stir up negative thoughts about our brother and we remove him from our heart then we mutilate our being. Our unity is contained in this understanding: to hold all in our heart and to avoid even the least negative thought for our fellows.

The same occurs in marriage; each spouse must learn not to accept a negative thought for the other, but to compete as we do in the monastery in the mystery of obedience, considering the other as always more important. So whatever the Abbot says, we answer, ‘Yes, your blessing!’ I accept the will of the other, because the other is more important than myself. Therefore finally, I learn to accept the will of the ultimate Other, the will of the Saviour Christ.

If a couple competes as we do in a monastery, each striving to do the will of the other more perfectly, then their life will be enriched and established in the antechamber of paradise. As spiritual fruit they will enjoy unity of heart and spirit, and not just psychological unity. In the monastery, everyone who has learned this competition, to humble oneself more before the other, is spiritually reborn. The same occurs also in a family. We don’t accept an evil thought for another member, but compete to do the will of the others and to humble ourselves more before them. As Saint Silouan teaches, pride drives away love.¹⁰ The proud man is full of himself and does not make space in his heart for anything or anyone. If we carry, however, all our brethren or all our family in our heart before God and bring them before God in our everyday prayer, then surely there will be unity and love amongst us. All things can find room in our heart.

Almost all the principles of monasticism are also valid in family life. In monasticism we speak of the ‘first love’, the ‘first grace’. It is the same also in marriage. In the first period there is a lot of love and happiness. However, when the accounts billow and our children deprive us from sleep, when generally life becomes more demanding, let us remember that we must continue with the same faithfulness and love which God gave us when we began our life together: ‘Remember thy first love.’¹¹ If we continue to apply the lessons that we learned in the beginning, the ending will be blessed.

I observed this even within my own family. For the first eighteen years the married life of my parents was difficult. With time they became more patient with each other; they found a way and made a new beginning, and they lived another thirty years with great peace and love. They died in the fulness of days. This does not mean that they just had many days but that the days they had were full. When, in the biographies of the Saints, it is said that they died ‘in the fulness of days’ it means that every day brought the fulness of grace and the peace of God.

It is worthwhile, therefore, to live patiently for eighteen years, in order to live another thirty years full of joy, completely fulfilled and to arrive at a wondrous end. When my father realised that the end of his life was drawing near, he started to kiss the hand of my mother, and to bless his father-in-law who had given him such a companion for his life. The following morning he passed away. My mother said to me: ‘If your father is not saved, then no one is saved.’ I asked her why she said this and she answered, ‘Half the night, he was praying’. I knew that when I was growing up he had not prayed like this. My parents did not pray very much. They went to church regularly, but they did not have any special spiritual cultivation. When, however, I became a monk and they visited our monastery they ‘stole’, both of them, the prayer of the monks and continued to pray in the same way. Consequently, you can see that it is of great value to live patiently together for eighteen years, in order to live the remaining thirty years with so much grace, so much peace and so much love. Unfortunately, people today at the first difficulty say, ‘Oh, we don’t go together. Goodbye!’ But with such an attitude, no one can be healed, no one can be fulfilled.

A lecturer from Paris said, ‘I think the best preparation for marriage is monasticism.’ The people were shocked, asking him what he meant, and he answered, ‘I prepared to become a monk but my circumstances changed and finally I married. I am, however, very grateful to God, because now I know how to fight pride and to live happily with my wife. I was taught the basic principles of life whilst I prepared to become a monk. Moreover I was preserved from sin, so that I am able now to become a priest.’ His first exclamation was surprising, as it was difficult to understand the direction of his thought. However, the way he positioned himself was wise, because inside monasticism he learned a lot of things that proved very valuable in his life: humility, longing for God, prayer and combat against the passions. All this gave him great stability later on in his life.

It is important to remember that the same faith, the same obedience and fidelity that are required from monks, are required also from married couples. If we understand this, as Elder Sophrony said, then ‘we build up life’. What does this mean? We will build up the temple of God, not only within ourselves, but also in our fellows, and thus we will fulfil the purpose for which God brought us into this life.


1 John 15:5.

2 Rom. 9:13.

3 See Gen. 32:26.

4 See Gen. 32:28.

5 See Gen. 33:10

6 Cf. John 21:17; see Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Saint Silouan the Athonite, trans. Rosemary Edmonds (Tolleshunt Knights, Essex: Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, 1991), pp. 379-380.

7 See Matt. 25:37-39.

8 Archimandrite Sophrony, Saint Silouan, p. 348.

9 See Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Οἰκοδομώντας τὸν ναὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, μέσα μας καὶ στοὺς ἀδελφούς μας (Tolleshunt Knights, Essex: Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, 2014), Vol. 2, pp. 151, 185, 209, 230.

10 Saint Silouan, p. 229.

11 See Rev. 2:4-5.

A2.

THE DESPONDENCY OF THE WORLD

AND THE ZEAL OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD

THE WHOLE OF HUMANITY finds itself in a state contrary to nature arising from our ancestral fall into sin through disobedience. If we were in our natural state, we would love God with all our heart and with all our being, and our mind would not be separated, even for a moment, from the remembrance of Him. This is what we are taught by the Saints, who think of God more often than they breathe. Their breath is joined to the Name of God as they continually invoke and call upon it, not only with their lips but also with the humble sighs of the heart.

In our spiritual ministry as priests, we repeatedly hear in confession, even from elect Christians, comments such as these: I am not stable in the way of the Lord; I do not pray as I ought to; my mind is full of thoughts of the vanity of the world; the Gospel word remains inactive in my life; I do not have a living hope in God’s promises, neither do I have the incorruptible consolation of the Holy Spirit; I am not inspired; my mind is not clear, I have withered away and my heart is dead; and many other similar things.

Certainly, the world around us cultivates forgetfulness of God by the lure of its carnal standards, corrupting us with its spirit that fights against God. As the Holy Spirit has written, ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God’¹ and weighs down the soul with deadly dejection, as the ‘friendship of the world is enmity with God’.²

Our whole struggle in this life is to overcome our current state, which is contrary to nature in its separation from God, and arrive at a natural state, often referred to as ‘supernatural’, which occurs when our spirit is united with the Spirit of God. In order to achieve this, we have to war against our passions and the bad habits we have acquired. There are many kinds of passions: pride, love of money, sorrow, the passion of uncleanness. It is clear that the devil exploits these to fight us and to separate us from God.

Amidst all this opposition, there is one passion which is the most fearful of all: despondency. In spiritual terminology, despondency means spiritual laziness, a lack of care for eternal salvation. In the struggle with different passions we can gain great spiritual profit, but despondency brings complete forgetfulness of God. As it meets no resistance from its miserable victim, it literally slays the soul. The passion of despondency is not the same as psychological despondency, indolence and the avoidance of every effort. The passion of despondency is more dangerous because it wipes out the memory of God from the mind. When someone is in a state of despondency, he can undertake every effort except that of working for his salvation. This is why one may observe monks who have fallen into despondency becoming particularly active. That is, instead of being constantly in the presence of God and in uninterrupted converse with Him, they undertake many tasks. This leaves them bereft of the wealth of spiritual changes within the heart that can only occur when it continually reaches with longing towards God its benefactor.

Despondency comes either from pride or despair. Pride dries up the heart and separates man from life-giving communion with God, as well as with his fellow. Separated, alone, and deprived of the communion of grace which abounds in the Church, the Body of Christ, man becomes weak and cannot withstand the spirit of the enemy and the pestilence of sin that corrupts his life. In order to find some false and fleeting comfort, he hands himself over to the carnal passions which deaden his soul, rendering it incapable of standing in the wondrous place of the divine presence, and of savouring God’s incorruptible consolation. When we give space to pride, in whatever form: criticism, contempt, indifference; not only is grace chased away from within us but also even the memory of God. The lamentable state of delusion, which a man who has handed himself over to the deadly passion of despondency finds himself in, is accurately described by the great Apostle Paul, or rather by the Holy Spirit of God, in these words, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’³

The corrupting passion of despondency can also be born of despair. Despair is the unavoidable result of disbelief. This passion empties the heart of hope and desire for the life to come. There is nothing more tragic than for a man to live in the world with a heart that is empty and deprived of inspiration and divine comfort. In the holy institution of monasticism, life is structured with the purpose of helping the monk to cultivate an awareness of God, that is, the sensation of warmth, joy, comfort, and peace, which His wondrous supernatural presence creates in the heart. However, when our relationship with Christ becomes dead through unbelief, we no longer hope in the Resurrection. According to the words of the Lord, where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.⁴ If we have a living hope within us, our heart is anchored in heaven and we are made rich because that is where our treasure is. When we have no hope, our heart cannot be detached from the earth. Those who ‘have no hope’⁵ in resurrection and eternal life, have, already from this life, a foretaste of the inconsolable torment of their separation from the living and bountiful God of love. This is indeed spiritual death, which foreshadows the eternal death of hell. Consequently, the Christian’s whole struggle is aimed at overcoming despondency, which paralyses the soul and brings about spiritual death.

In His high-priestly prayer, the Lord says, ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’⁶ In other words, eternity is a personal state which is imparted to man when he cultivates his faith and keeps alive his relationship with the personal God of Revelation: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of course, because we have ‘boldness and access’⁷ towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ, it is clear that our relationship with Him acquires absolute importance in gaining our victory over sin in order to inherit eternal salvation. Our relationship with Christ which begins now on earth, above all through faith, and which will continue in eternity through divine love, is a unique gift which we have to rekindle continually during our life, so that we journey dynamically to a more perfect knowledge of God and union with Him.

What theory and which thoughts contribute to this greatest miracle known to the created world, namely, the union of

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