Strength and Hope

Edification, consolation, aids to Theosis. There are enough Orthodox blogs out there willing to point out in greatest detail what is wrong with this world. Holy Orthodoxy isn't about lamenting over what is wrong so much as rejoicing that what is wrong with this world can be made right, can be deified.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Commandments, Gates of Knowledge

From The Discourses of St. Symeon the New Theologian: On Spiritual Knowledge

3. From the commandments spring the virtues, and from them the revelation of the mysteries that are hidden and veiled in the letter. From the fulfillment of the commandments comes the practice of the virtues; through the practice of the virtues the commandments are fulfilled. Thus, by means of these, the door of knowledge has been opened to us (cf. Luke 11:52), or, rather, it has been opened, not by them, but by Him who has said, "He who loves Me will keep My commandments, and My Father will love him, and I will reveal Myself to him." (John 14:23,21) When, therefore, God "lives in us and moves among us" (2nd Corinthians 6:16) and perceptibly reveals Himself to us, then we consciously contemplate the contents of the chest [of the Scriptures], the divine mysteries that are hidden in the divine Scripture. Let no one deceive himself--in no other way is it possible for the chest of knowledge to be opened to us, and for us to enjoy the good things that it contains and partake of them and contemplate them. [emphasis mine]

But what are these good things of which I speak? They consist in perfect love (that is, toward God and our neighbor), contempt for all things that are visible, mortification of the flesh and "its members that are on the earth" (Colossians 3:5), including evil desire or of passionate sentiment at any time. We shall not feel the tyrannical oppression of the evil one, but be mindful only of the commandments of our Savior Christ. We shall think of immortality, of the incorruption of eternal glory, of the kingdom of Heaven, of our adoption as sons through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Thereby we become sons by adoption and grace, we are called "heirs of God and fellow-heirs of Christ" (Romans 8:17), and together with these things we acquire "the mind of Christ" (1st Corinthians 2:16) and through Him see God and Christ Himself dwelling in us and moving among us in a way that we can know (2nd Corinthians 6:16). [again, emphasis mine]

All these things are granted to those who hear God's commandments and do them; they enjoy them abundantly together with those unutterable and ineffable things that are above these things, through the opening of the chest of which we have spoken, that is, the uncovering of the eyes of our minds and the contemplation of the things that are hidden within Holy Writ. But others, who lack the knowledge and experience of any of the things of which we have spoken, have no taste of their sweetness, of the immortal life derived from them, since they lean on the mere study of the Scriptures. Nay, rather, this very study will judge and condemn them at their departure from this life even more than those who have not heard the Scriptures at all. Some of these men err through ignorance and pervert all the divine Scriptures (cf. 2nd Peter 3:16) as they interpret them in accordance with their passionate desires. They wish to commend themselves (cf. 2nd Corinthians 10:12) as though they were to be saved apart from the exact observance of Christ's commandments, and so they altogether deny the power of the Holy Scriptures.
Pertinent to a discussion elsewhere. Will be used as a reference in subsequent comments.


  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger Jacob Aleksander said…

    Excellent quote. Is this from the three book series on St. Symeon from St. Vlad's Press?

  • At 12:28 PM, Blogger Gregory said…


    I also have a blog on LJ, where I've seen you before. (uncreatedlight)

    Not this time. This is from the Classics of Western Spirituality volume on his Discourses.

  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger Jacob Aleksander said…

    Ah yes...the ambiguous "Classics"...

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger Gregory said…

    Indeed. Could it be that they get some things right depsite themselves?


  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger Jacob Aleksander said…

    Yes, they have put out some good stuff...but I've also seen the one on 'native american spirituality'...


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