Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Has Your Nous Descended?

 Has Your Nous Descended
(to the tune of the hymn,  “Are You Washed in the Blood?”}

Has your  nous descended to your heart today?
Has the stillness of unknowing caught your gaze?
Has you wand’ring attention found its native home?
Has your nous returned to your heart

    Has your nous, found your heart?
Has your gaze seen the stillness of the Lord?
Has the gate to theosis opened through the grace of God?
Has your nous descended to your heart?

2.        Have you warred against the passions with the Jesus Prayer?
Have you stilled the senses and the mind?
Have the demons fled from your humility?
Has your heart been prepared for your nous

3.        Has unceasing prayer been your way of life?
Has your body been weaned off of the world?
Has your thought life gathered to the Jesus Prayer?
Has neptic vigil made you aware?

4.        Has the bread of repentance been your daily fare?
Tears of Compunction and of sorrow filled your heart?
Has bodily stillness led you to your inward Sabbath rest?
Has the Jesus Prayer  set your life apart?

5.        Has the hesychastic pathway called you on to God?
On to union with the Divine?
Has the stillness of unknowing found your ceaseless gaze?
Has your nous returned to its home?

6.        Has the grace of God brought unceasing prayer?
Has visionary prayer come into your heart?
Has what He is by Nature, come to you by grace?
Do you  practice divine  Sonship as your art?

The Sanctifying Value of the Stillness

The Sanctifying Value of the Stillness

In the Scripture we are told to labour to enter into His Rest. This rest we are told to enter is an inner state of Stillness, that we are drawn to by the Spirit, that is the same as the rest that Christ entered when He ascended, then offered His blood on the heavenly altar and finally seated at the right hand of the Father.  Because the Father cannot be seen or conceived of, to be seated at His right hand is to  be seated in a place where all thought has ceased, for He is beyond conception.  Because it is a seating in the heavenlies in Christ it is also the place of absolutely satisfying Presence of the Divine. 
The Fathers describe a transition in the life of prayer and this is the descent of the 'nous' into the heart.  The nous is the eye of the heart and when it returns to the heart, it sees intuitively  as in a mirror the heavenly vision.
When this first happened to me, I was utterly amazed and discovered that my daily routine of prayer facilitated the daily return of the nous to the heart.
After a period of time I noticed that, whereas my 'nous' would descend into the rest, it was not a given, that it would be seated in the rest.  The rest of God beckoned me on, but I discovered that I would find my thoughts going this way and that, or else I was really desiring to be somewhere else than in hesychastic prayer.  I discovered that when the Lord showed me these things,  He was showing me subtle idolatries that emanated from my heart, and which required simple confession. And as they were confessed the beatitude of the Stillness would come and then I would find perfect rest and contentment simply to be before the Father, ineffably, in Christ.
The Stillness, then, served as a perfect backdrop as it were, to reveal the idolatrous motions of my heart and to offer them to the Lord for His dispositions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Diodochos of Photike- On Grace and Human Strivings for Perfection

When people are baptized , grace hides her presence until the soul makes a decision.  When the whole person has turned to the Lord, then with an unspeakable tenderness she reveals her presence to the heart.  Then once again she awaits a movement of the soul while allowing the darts of the devil to reach even its inmost senses,  in order that the soul may seek God again with more fervour and humility. Then if that person begins to make progress by keeping the commandments and calling continually on the Lord Jesus, the fire of divine grace spreads also to the outward motions of the heart. As a result the arrows of the devil fall short and hardly  scratch the vulnerable part of the soul any ore.  Finally when  the fighter contains all the virtues, and especially the most complete renunciation, grace enlightens the whole person with the deepest  feeling, engendering an ardent love for God.  From then   on  the arrows of the devil are quenched without touching the bodily senses. For the wind of the Spirit that is blowing within the heart destroys  the darts of the devil while they are still in flight.  However, even one who has reached this stage is sometimes abandoned by God to the malice of the devil, and is left without any light for the spirit , so that this freedom of ours may not be entirely shackled by bonds if grace,...for the human being  ought to be able  still to progress in the spiritual life.  For what we regard  as perfection  is still imperfect in the presence of the richness of God, this God who with all the eagerness of his love longs to be our teacher.