The Special Actions of Divine Grace
in Arousing Sinners from the Slumber of Sin.
For those living a grace-filled life, it is encouraging to know these actions so that when they see the many troubles and cares that God takes over sinners, they glorify the unspeakable divine grace and are inspired by the trustworthy help from above in every good deed. For those seeking divine love and mercy, it is especially necessary to know them, because the characteristics of arousal by grace are more clearly expressed here than elsewhere. We must
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 100 av 379 be well aware of and familiar with these characteristics so we may determine whether the arousal we are experiencing comes from grace. If someone is already in the process, we may determine whether he is acting through the arousal by or through self-made enthusiasm.
The true Christian life is one of grace. The self-made life, no matter how beautiful it is in appearance or how close it is to the form of Christian life, will never be Christian. The origin of the Christian life is in arousal by grace. A person who has heeded this arousal is not then deprived of guidance by grace and communion with it at all times, as it persists through proper attention to it. That is why it is necessary to determine correctly for oneself whether an arousal by grace is taking place or has taken place. In satisfying this requirement, the following may be said: Judge yourself by the characteristics of arousal by grace which are revealed in special situations. While these characteristics are the same in both special and ordinary situations, they are revealed more clearly, definitively and distinctively only in the former.
As already indicated, during this arousal of grace, the destruction of the entire established order of self-pleasing sinful life is carried out instantaneously in the presence of the consciousness. In its place is revealed another superior divine way, the only true and satisfying one. One may briefly depict this way as follows: God, in the Holy Trinity that is worshipped, Who has created the world and takes trouble over it, saves us, the fallen, in the Lord Jesus Christ, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, under the direction and guidance of the Holy Church, and through one’s life here of trials and bearing the cross, which leads to eternal, unending bliss in the future life. He combines persons,
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 101 av 379 events, places, and the causes themselves through which everything is set in motion.
This divine way in its entirety is vividly impressed on the spirit of the sinner through the action of grace. By presenting the striking contrast of the sinner’s own attitudes and everything that he previously lived and enjoyed to this divine way, he is then obliged to be in complete agreement and concordance with it. This overwhelms him. Each aspect of the divine way issues an accusation and reproach to the sinner concerning his previous folly and carelessness, which makes an even greater impression, because at the same time the spirit sees the miserable insignificance of its former sinful way of life. Under such action, the heart is loosed from its former bonds and becomes free, and that is why it freely selects the new way of life. This is how arousal by grace operates. It destroys everything in the consciousness and emotion that is old and bad, and vividly presents only the new and good. It leaves the person in this situation overwhelmed, free to choose the new life or to turn back to the previous one.
It is worth noting that the arousal by grace is always accompanied by this feeling of being overwhelmed and a sort of fear. This may be because it is sudden, as if by surprise. It seizes the sinner at the crossroads of life like a criminal and presents him before the inescapable divine judgment. Or it may be because it is a new way of life, revealed to the consciousness in a completely new way that is a striking contrast to the old one. It is not just new, but also perfect in all parts, bringing happiness; whereas in the previous, miserable way of life, there was only heaviness of heart and going around in circles for the spirit.
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 102 av 379 All the same, the starting point of all the good actions of arousal by grace is a clear consciousness of a new divine way. Proceeding from this understanding, we bring to mind all past experiences of this action of grace. The consciousness of the new way of being and life comes about in two ways: a) sometimes this very way, in its entirety or in part, is introduced visibly and through the senses through the act itself to the sinner it is being bestowed upon; b) at other times, the spirit of the person is led into it and perceives it internally.
I. Introduction of the Divine Way through Visible Means and Through the Senses.
The merciful Lord reveals to the consciousness of one who has turned to Him the divine world in which the spirit is meant to live by various means. Frequently, He Himself is revealed visibly, taking on some sort of form and appearing to a human being who is awake or asleep. Thus did He appear to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, to Constantine the Great, to the Great Martyr Eustathius Placidas (September 20), to Neanias who was on his way to torture Christians (this is the Great Martyr Procopius, July 8), to Patermuthius in his sleep (July 9), and to many others.
Sometimes He has the kindness to send various persons from the other world, also in wakefulness or in a dream, in their own form or some other form. Thus, the Mother of God has appeared many times, either alone or with the Pre-eternal Child, or with an entourage of saints consisting of one, two or many. The Great Martyr Catherine, for example,
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 103 av 379 was converted by the appearance to her in her sleep of the Mother of God with the Pre-eternal Child, who gave her a betrothal ring (November 24). Angels have appeared many times, either singly or in assembly. For example, an army of Holy Angels appeared to St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ, in opposition to a horde of dark forces (October 2). Saints have appeared many times; for example, Bishop Mitrophan appeared to a Lutheran doctor, a sick girl, and others.
Sometimes the other world, and especially its orders and principalities, is portrayed to the ignorant mind in some sort of striking form, as seen in the example of St. Andrew already cited, and in many others. In these cases, persons turning to God saw either blessed communities of the righteous, as appeared to the Indian king and his brother after the king had given Apostle Thomas money to build a palace, which he gave to the poor (October 6); 0rthe horrible tortures of sinners, as appeared to Hesychius the Horebite (October 3); or the carrying out of the judgment at death, as happened to Peter the Tax Collector, who threw a piece of bread in the face of a beggar (September 22); or pondering on death and one’s fate afterward was impressed, as was the case with Ioasaph, the prince (November 19), St. Clement (November 25), and a debauched youth, whose father vowed to visit the room where he lay dying every night after his death.
Sometimes one is allowed to experience tangibly some invisible force among the visible forces and phenomena. It is an actual force, but strikingly different from the latter, and coming from the other world. Generally speaking, in this category are included all miracles, whose role in conversions is impossible to calculate. Even the Saviour
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 104 av 379 said unbelievers could not be convinced without signs (cf. Jn. 4:48). The greater number of these were manifested after Christ the Saviour, in the early times of Christianity through the Apostles, and later, the holy martyrs. The striking presence of the invisible divine power on earth often converted entire villages and towns, but was never entirely incorporeal. Indeed, the blood of the martyrs lies at the foundation of the Church. There were also those instances where the divine power itself was manifested, without a human agent, as during the conversion of St. Mary of Egypt, or through the medium of holy things, icons, relics, etc. Thus the Jews in Beirut were converted through the miraculous manifestation at the icon of the Lord’s Crucifixion.
In all such manifestations, the mind, confused by various objects and seductions of the world and hopelessly caught in the visible, sensible, external order, is confronted with the striking, unexpected and sudden appearance to it of higher beings and powers from the invisible realm. It suddenly bursts from its bonds and is pressed into the other way of being and life and, overcome, becomes established in it. This also happens during the excitation of electricity in a body by the electricity of another body. The latter forces it from the bonds of matter, and after attracting it toward the surface, keeps it to itself.
2. The Spirit Is Led into the Divine Way and Perceives it Internally.
The spirit, as we have seen, is closed up and bound by
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 105 av 379 many layers. But by its nature, it is the perceiver of the divine way. Its aptitude for this is ready to appear immediately, and indeed manifests its power as soon as the obstacles holding it back are removed. Thus, for arousal of the slumbering spirit within man and the leading of it to contemplation of the divine way, divine grace either 1) directly acts upon it, and, in carrying out its power, gives the opportunity to break the bonds that hold it, or 2) indirectly acts on it, shaking the layers and meshes off of it and thereby giving it the freedom to assume its rightful position.
Divine Grace Acting Directly on the Spirit of Man.
The divine grace that is everywhere-present and fills all things directly inspires the spirit of man, impressing thoughts and feelings upon it that turn it away from all finite things and toward another better, albeit invisible and mysterious world. The general characteristic of such arousals is dissatisfaction with oneself and everything pertaining to oneself, and anguish over something. The person is not satisfied by anything around him; not by his accomplishments or possessions, even if he has incalculable wealth; and he walks around as if heart-broken. Because he finds no consolation in visible things, he turns to the invisible, and receives it with a readiness to acquire it for himself sincerely and to give himself over to it.
Many who have asked the question, “What does all this end with and where does it lead?” have left everything and changed not only their feelings and behavior, but also their
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 106 av 379 way of life. There have been instances where such dissatisfaction was expressed primarily in the intellectual aspect, as with Justin Martyr, who primarily sought the light of knowledge of the Divine Essence. Sometimes the dissatisfaction is expressed in the appetitive aspect, as with Blessed Augustine, who primarily sought peace for his troubled heart. Sometimes, perhaps most often, the dissatisfaction is expressed in the incensive aspect, in the conscience, as with the robbers Moses and David of Hermopolis. There have been numerous cases where the inner abode of the spirit was suddenly illumined, and an inclination was instilled that turned the spirit onto another path. Thou … canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, the Saviour said about this (Jn. 3:8).
Often the spirit is awakened by a past memory. Mary, the niece of Abraham the Recluse, was converted in this way; so was a disciple of St. John the Apostle, who was perishing in dissolution, and also St. Theophilus the Penitant, the church steward. From somewhere something enters within and the voice of the conscience distinctly utters: “Remember from where you have fallen,” which totally overwhelms the person who has forgotten. One may attribute all conversions after youthful falls to this. There is no doubt that even these changes are prepared by divine economy in a roundabout way through various events which dispose one to accept the action of grace. That is why here, too, the spontaneity of the conversion is only relative. On the other hand, it is also necessary to know that every arousal by grace is revealed in inclinations similar to these and in awakenings of our spirit. Grace, though it be through a visible medium, is nonetheless always invisible and directly touches the spirit and draws it from the bonds
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 107 av 379 that torment it into the divine light, into the realm of divine life.
Divine Grace Acting Indirectly on the Spirit of Man.
All means pertaining to this category are directed toward breaking spiritual bonds. Give the spirit freedom, and it will of its own accord start running toward that from which it comes, toward God. Spiritual bonds, as we saw, are interconnected, being composed of: 1) self-indulgence, 2) the world, 3) the devil. The destructive actions of grace when it awakens the spirit are directed against these.
1) Self-indulgence. The bonds with the closest grip on the spirit are those of the comprehensive, dominating self-indulgence in our physical-mental aspect. These bonds are the point of contact for other bonds that come from the world and devil. That is why destroying them is so important, although doing so is very difficult and complicated. Because the nonbeliever lives entirely in the physical and mental, the bonds from this aspect expand and become variously and intricately interwoven to the full extent of the physical-mental life.
To understand how these bonds are broken, it is necessary to understand that that with which this life is affiliated, that which nourishes it, and that in which it chiefly expresses itself, constitutes a firm support for it. As the support becomes secure, this life becomes established and does not fear destruction or even contemplate it. For example, when someone gives himself up to art, worldliness, or even
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 108 av 379 learning, and lives in it, he becomes dependent upon it and abides in it with all his strength, thoughts, and hopes. Because the entire self-indulgent life subsequently proceeds from this and binds the spirit, the support of self-indulgence naturally becomes a firm and strong foundation for the bonds that are imposed on the spirit, like a point to which these bonds are attached. Therefore, to reverse this and free the spirit from the bonds of self-indulgence, the divine arousing grace usually destroys the supports on which self-indulgent selfishness rests. After it has shaken the supports in the foundation, grace weakens the bonds and gives the tormented, weary spirit an opportunity to lift its head.
Our self-indulgence has many supports. It is indeed part of our nature; that is, in the body and soul, in our external life and our entire way of life in general. Such indulgence of the flesh comes in various forms. For example, there is sensuality, luxury, lustfulness, love of merrymaking, fondness for pleasure, trouble and care over everyday things, love of honor, love of power, perceptible success in one’s affairs, and prosperity. There is a desire to be outwardly attractive, have valuable connections, and be sophisticated in external relations. There is a fondness for the arts, learning, and ventures. All this in the various forms constitutes a firm support for our selfishness, which, with certainty in its reliability and solidity, calmly rests upon it and, being amply nourished, grows from day to day, in one way chiefly in one person, in another way in someone else.
By directing its power toward destruction of this support on which the sinner’s selfishness has established itself and rests, divine, salvific grace carries out the following to
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 109 av 379 awaken the sinner from his slumber: He who is enslaved by pleasing the flesh shall fall ill, and, by weakening the flesh, shall give the spirit freedom and power to come to its senses and become sober. He who is preoccupied with his own attractiveness and strength shall be deprived of this attractiveness and kept in a state of utter exhaustion. He who finds refuge in his own power and strength shall be subject to slavery and humiliation. He who relies greatly on wealth shall have it taken from him. He who shows off great learnedness shall be put to shame. He who relies on solid personal connections shall have them cut off. He who counts on the permanence of the order established around him shall have it destroyed by the death of people he knows or the loss of essential material possessions. Is there anyway to sober up those kept in the bonds of indifference through outward happiness other than by sorrows and grief? Isn’t our life filled with misfortunes so that it may assist with the divine intention of keeping us sober?
Each destruction of the supports of indifferent self-indulgence constitutes a turning point in life, which, because it is always unexpected, operates in an overwhelming and salvific manner. The sense that one’s life is in danger operates strongest of all in this respect. This sense weakens all bonds and kills selfishness at the very root; the person does not know where to run. The sense of total abandonment is of the same character and special circumstance. Both senses leave a person alone with himself. From himself, the most miserable of creatures, he immediately turns to God.
2) The second bonds of the spirit are imposed from the world and lie closer to the surface than the first. The world,
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 110 av 379 with its concepts, principles and rules, in general with its entire system made into immutable law, lays a heavy, authoritarian hand on each of its offspring. As a result, no one dares even to think of rebelling against it or renouncing its power. Everyone venerates it and adheres to its rules with such timidity. A violation of these rules is considered as a criminal act. The world is not a person, but its spirit in some way stands firm on the earth, influences us, and holds us as if with bonds. It is evident that its power is psychological and imaginative, not real or physical. Consequently, one has only to dispel this imaginative power of the world, and the opportunity for abstaining from its charms becomes more likely for us. That is how salvific divine economy operates in us.
It is with this purpose that it continually maintains two other sacred, divine worlds in the presence of the world and ourselves. Through them, divine economy constantly reiterates the emptiness of worldly life by calling it to our attention and allowing us to perceive it more keenly. The two divine worlds are visible nature and the divine Church. Experience shows how frequently the mind, obscured by worldly ways, becomes sober through contemplation of divine creation or by entering the Church. For example, a man standing at a window and looking at a tree in the winter came to his senses. Another man, after a disturbing conversation, and having sensed the sweetness of peace of mind in a church, abandoned his former ways and dedicated himself to the service of God.
Visible nature and the temple of God have not only often brought sense and sobriety to indifferent and sinful Christians, but have converted even pagans to true worship
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 111 av 379 of God and devotion to Him. The word Hosanna fell on the heart of one woman and made her a Christian. The conversion of our forbears was decisively confirmed by the action of the Church on them. The contemplation of the beauties of the visible creation of God converted the Great Martyr Barbara from the flesh. Their power and influence come from the fact that they vividly and perceptibly offer the best, most blissful way of life for a spirit that is wearied, exhausted, fatigued and tortured by the vanity of the world. By suddenly infusing the spirit with the joy of such a life, they convince a person that by giving himself over to the dominion of this world, he only distresses and torments himself, that complete happiness is to be found in the other world, and that if cooperation with this world is so tormenting now, what is to be expected afterward?
The call to the divine world and the tearing away from the world of vanity is engendered by this process. Sometimes the process is in the form of a strong rupture, and sometimes it is gradual. But finally, nature and the Church completely wrench the human spirit from the bonds of the world. In this capacity, they dispel, dissipate, and oust the charms of the world of vanity with its many illusions. It is for this reason that the Lord places them in such relation with us, so they may act upon us all more often and unceasingly, presenting the contrast of one life with the other in the most striking fashion.
The second way of extrication from worldly bonds consists in having life presented through the grace of the Divine AllProvidencer to someone in a way completely contrary to that to which he is accustomed. All conversions by means of martyrdom, of which there are innumerable examples, are
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 112 av 379 particularly relevant to this. Sometimes the feat of martyrdom of a single person has converted entire villages and towns. The presence of a moral power from another world unlike our own is evident here. Sometimes defeat seemed certain, but wasn’t; the one undergoing martyrdom remained invincible, of good cheer, oblivious to everything going on around him.
A sudden understanding of this contrary presentation of life strikes the mind and dispels within it the fascination of the present ways of one’s life. An example of this is the conversion of the robber by the Emperor Maurice, who, instead of punishing him, treated him kindly as if he were a man worthy of such treatment. Another is the conversion of a profligate woman, who was asked by another woman to pray for and return to life her only son who had died. Another profligate woman repented after sighting monks who were humbly occupied with prayer and godly thought, while she had been giving herself up to luxury and debauchery in the very same house.
All conversions by examples of life belong in this category. The power of action of these lies in the fact that one encounters satisfied, peaceful persons who do not have the pleasures or soothing items abundantly possessed by others who find neither satisfaction nor peace. From this comes disillusionment and a change of life.
The third way of withdrawing from the world is by disgracing it in front of its children. Julian [the Apostate] exalted himself above all; he fiercely rose up against the Christians and threatened to suppress them with all his might. But then he fell unexpectedly. This not only
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 113 av 379 confirmed the believers, but many nonbelievers also converted to the true God. An entire village rose up against St. Macarius [the Great] because of false witness; it beat him, tortured him, inflicted punishment on him, and the world triumphed. But then the truth was revealed, disgraced everyone, and returned them to the reverence and fear of God. All instances of bringing people to their senses through the falls and unexpected death of the mighty and great of the world are in this category. The disgrace of the world diminishes it in front of its adherents, exposing its powerlessness. On the one hand, this turns them away from it; on the other hand, it gives them the courage to resist it.
Fourthly, it often happens that in the end, the world itself prods and drives one away from it seemingly of its own accord, because it does not satisfy expectations or it disappoints them. We seek happiness; but in the world there is only glory, honor, power, wealth, pleasure, none of which satisfies the seeker. The discriminating person soon notices the deception and comes to his senses. We see that many of the godly saints, after examining the vanity and confusion of the world, withdrew from it and resolutely devoted themselves to God. The Prodigal Son in the parable said, I perish with hunger (Lk. 15:17).
3) The third bonds of the spirit come from satan and his demons. They are invisible and coincide for the most part with the bonds of self-indulgence and the world, which satan strengthens with his influence, and through which he holds the mind in darkness. But there is something that comes directly from satan, a vague faintheartedness and fear which can confuse the soul of the sinner at any time, and especially when he thinks about the good. This is like
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 114 av 379 when a master threatens his servant who has done something against his will or plans. From satan come various kinds of spiritual flattery. For example, some people have excessive, unfounded hope in divine mercy; this hope is not sober, but becomes more and more embedded in a love of sin. At the opposite end are people who have despair with doubt and disbelief. Such people are self-assured, and possess a self-righteousness that deadens any feeling of repentance.
Yes, there is very much that comes directly from satan, although it is difficult to pinpoint. But everything sinful must be attributed to him as the source, because he is the king of the sinful world. One of his cunning ruses is to conceal himself. That is, he gives sinners the assurance that he is not there, the consequence of which he acts willfully and with ferocity within the sinful soul. He composes and suggests sinful urges toward nature, disposing sinners to grumble about God, Who forbids what is ostensibly natural and Who decrees that their strength is not sufficient to endure it.
Divine grace, which brings a person to his senses, frequently snatches sinners from the jaws of the hell of satanic disgrace. It has exposed satan to shame and subjected him to derision, revealing his powerlessness and folly, and unmasking his guile. Thus was he shamed in the person of Simon the Magus, St. Cyprian of Antioch and many others. All such instances were j accompanied by the conversion and enlightenment of many who were blind. In the days of the Lord on earth, demons, the source of disbelief and doubt, became prophets of faith. And the holy martyrs, through the power of All-Mighty God, often forced
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 115 av 379 both the father and children of lies to speak the truth through statues.
This discovery of the crafty one’s intrigues leads a sinner to 1 the certainty that he is in malicious, hostile hands, that he is being duped into harming himself that he is being deceitfully j led down some gloomy path toward destruction, and that the demons want to rejoice in this. This inevitably engenders a sense j of fear for one’s own well-being, caution, suspicion, an aversion to the sly one and his inventions, the vices and passions, and to I one’s entire former life. From here it is a close transition to the Source of truth, good, and bliss: that is, to God.
3. The Word of God Replaces All Methods Shown.
These, then, are the ways and means by which divine grace acts on the human spirit, extricates it from its unnatural bonds, and brings it face to face with another, better life in which there is joy and peace. It is obvious, however, that all these ways and means are in and of themselves incomplete, as if something were being held back. For example, if the thirst for something better has been engendered, where is this something better and how may it be attained? Or if someone has been struck by the fear of death and judgment, what should he do to rid himself of misfortune?
It is the same with all other instances, too. They are not obvious. An additional method for realization must be applied to everything. That method is preaching the Word. Indeed, the Word of God in its various forms supplements
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 116 av 379 all the methods shown, clarifying them and indicating their ultimate goal. Without this Word, the methods still leave a person in a somewhat uncertain condition, and therefore do not accomplish everything they are supposed to. The Apostle Paul was enlightened by a heavenly phenomenon. But the Lord did not accomplish everything in him here, and said, “Go to Ananias and he will tell you what to do.” Justin Martyr, the Great Martyr Barbara, and loasaph the Prince saw falsehood, but in order to know the truth, they needed special guides and interpreters. That is why the following is set out by the Lord Providencer as law: God commandeth all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). This word from the Apostles is proclaimed now throughout all ends of earth through their successors.
Here it is essential to proclaim the story of the universal, divine way of salvation, to tell of well-known persons and places to which one who has been aroused should turn for interpretation, so he will not waste that arousal or stray off course from it, wasting time and energy fruitlessly. Catechistic teaching must be heard unceasingly, and indeed, is heard, in Church. True believers will become established more firmly through it, whereas the fallen and the aroused will have an immediate, true guidebook. How vitally important is the duty of priests to proclaim God’s salvific ways at any time, without an overreliance on presupposed general knowledge!
The Word of God, however, not only enhances all the methods shown; it can also replace them. It arouses more fully and distinctly. Through its affinity with the spirit, which also comes from God, it passes inwardly, to the division of
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 117 av 379 soul and spirit. It enlivens the latter, and inseminates it so that acts of the spiritual life may come to fruition (that is why the Word is also called seed). The arousing force of it is the more significant in that it acts at once on the entire person, on his entire being: his body, soul, and spirit. Sound, or the audible component of the Word, strikes the hearing, and a thought occupies the soul. The invisible energy concealed inside this thought touches the soul, which, if it is attentive, after the Word has safely passed the rough barriers of body and soul, becomes aroused, and, by exerting effort, it bursts the bonds that hold it.
The Word of God arouses through the methods shown; that is, either by a very vivid demonstration of the divine way to the consciousness, or by conveyance of the spirit into the consciousness through destruction of the obstacles that impede it. For example, an elderly servant said in simplicity to his ailing master, “No matter how much you struggle, papa, death will still come,” and by this he aroused him to repentance. Another person read the following beneath a depiction of the crucified Lord: “Here is what I have done for you; what have you done for me?” and he awoke from his slumber. St. Pelagia heard about death, judgment, and the bitter lot of sinners, and left her sinful life. Prince Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles, was converted by a description of the entire divine way, beginning from the creation of the world to the end of all things, the dread judgment, and the eternal fate of the righteous and the evil.
What is more, the preaching of the holy Apostles, those who followed them and all preachers of the Gospel in general has consisted of a simple presentation of the truth, without any philosophizing. St. Paul the Apostle says of himself that
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 118 av 379 his speech and preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the simple telling of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was crucified on the Cross (cf. I Corinthians 2:2-4). One could say that this is the most natural method of action through the Word: to depict the truth as it is, not cluttering it with intellectual concepts and especially speculation about probabilities.
Truth is akin to the spirit. When it is uttered simply and sincerely, truth finds the spirit. When it is surrounded by images and is figurative and embellished, it remains in the imagination. When it is encumbered with concepts and arguments, it is detained in the intellect or soul, not reaching the spirit, which is left empty. One could say that all unfruitful preaching is on account of the intellectualizing that fills it. Just explain the truth in a simple way; say what it is, and the spirit will be overcome. A Jew was reading the Gospel and was converted, because he saw the truth in a simple Gospel story. In general, the majority of free-thinkers were converted through a clear consciousness of divine things, by the instruction of the Word of God, living or written. The truth dispels the gloom of vain thoughts, refreshes the soul, enlightens the spirit. One could with great benefit make more often, in general conversation, a brief examination of how everything began, how it will end, and why.
On the other hand, the spirit’s barriers are often overcome by the power of the Word, and it is given freedom. Thus, St. Anthony the Great heard about the insignificance of earthly joys and left everything. A certain youth heard the parable of the Prodigal Son and he himself repented. Many married saints have turned their spouses toward a blameless, pure
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 119 av 379 life through a depiction of worldly vanity.
In general, the presentation of the divine way, on the one hand, is a revelation of various wonders, and on the other hand, fills the spirit with the fullness of the understanding of salvation, or with a clear and persuasive knowledge of the path of salvation, against which the stubbornness of the heart resists only rarely. If very many people do not act with the proper urgency, but instead remain in slumber and unconcern, it is because they do not know the truths of salvation, or know them incompletely. The fullness of knowledge is triumphant, for then there is no place for the cunning heart to hide.
By virtue of its comprehensive general suitability for awakening sinners, the Word of God goes throughout the world and reaches our ears in various forms. It is heard unceasingly in churches at every divine service, and outside churches in every religious ceremony. It is heard in the sermons of the Fathers and in every enlightening book. It is heard in wholesome discussions and in popular, edifying sayings. It is in schools, pictures, and every visible object that represents spiritual truths. Judging by this, we are surrounded by the Word of God and filled with it from all sides. From everywhere the trumpet sounds come to us for the destruction of the strongholds of sin, as for the walls of Jericho. The Word of God has already shown and continually shows its triumphant power over the human heart. It is necessary only to take care that the paths by which the Word of God is disseminated are maintained without interruption, so that true preaching does not cease, divine worship is fulfilled according to rite and in an edifying manner, iconography is uplifting and pious, and the
2016-11-25 01? 15 Sida 120 av 379 singing is sober, simple, and reverent. The fulfillment of this is the responsibility of those who serve at the altars. That is why they are the most necessary and powerful weapons for the conversion of sinners in the hands of divine Providence. It is necessary for them to acknowledge this and speak out not just in churches, but also in homes, using every opportunity both to describe the divine world, and to expose the seduction of our soul by the illusions of the mind and body.