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Paradoxical salvation. Talk about the spiritual life

Paradoxical salvation. Talk about the spiritual life

Tags: Religion, Christianity

Hieromonk Raphael (Neuka)

Father Raphael - one of the largest figures in modern Orthodoxy. Among outstanding Romanian theologians and confessors, he stands apart, as the spiritual child of Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov), the successor of the Monk Siluan of Athos. Throughout his conscious life, from 19 to 51, Father Raphael spent next to Father Sofronii. The second important feature of Raphael's father is his deep spiritual experience: he is a hermit and a prayer book that has been conducting an ascetic life for half a century.

Hieromonk Raphael (Neuka) was born in 1942-th year in the family of the great Romanian philosopher Constantine Neuqui. In the 1950-ies, at the age of 13 years, was taken by a mother from socialist Romania to her homeland, to England. Soon he meets Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov) there, in 1965 year he takes monastic vows and the next 28 years of his life he works in one of the convents of Essex County.

In 1993, when Archimandrite Sofrony was no more, Father Raphael returned to Romania and settled in the secluded Lazesti monastery in the Western mountains (Apuseni Mountains). In 1994, his book "Another Noyka" was published, in 2002 - "Culture of the Spirit", translated into Russian. Father Raphael translated from Russian into Romanian instructions his "spiritual grandfather" - the Reverend Siluan Afonsky, as well as the book of Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov). Occasionally he comes out of his shutter for meetings with readers. At one such meeting, held in Bucharest 19 November 2002, Father Raphael made a presentation "What the Philanthropy prepares for us". Then the listeners began to ask him questions, to which the Romanian confessor gave the following answers.

"We do not even realize how much we live in imagination." For example, someone says: "It occurred to me". And what does this mean, think about what it means: "It occurred to me"? Where did it come from? And what is this thought that came into my head?

Father Sofroniy also says so somewhere. Every thought is a spirit. These are the thoughts that came to us. We also have our own thoughts, and we are also a spirit, but only our thoughts are rather our opinions, but if any thought, idea, and sometimes vision comes to you, it is already a spirit. If the spirit is God or comes from God, then it is the spirit of life, if the coming thought plunges you into despair, or provokes disbelief, or in one way or another knocks you out of the ordinary state and panics or horror or darkness, then this thought was from a spirit alien to God, from a spirit-killer.

And, if you like, here's a philokalic [1] test. Spiritual discretion, discrimination of spirits is acquired this way: one must look not at what the thought offers me, but on what effect this will have on my soul. We are not accustomed to this: an idea comes to us, and since childhood we have been accustomed to grinding everything that comes to mind from school. And if we only saw (and one day we'll see), how many demonic thoughts we grinded in our time, then I think we would be surprised: how else did God save us alive? Because each of the thoughts we grinded with our own minds, not knowing its origin and assimilating its matter, if it is demonic, inevitably plunges us into despair or carries us death in many different ways. And when we see how God saved us from this, then, I think, we will really be amazed.

It is necessary to watch what action this will have on my soul. It is important to know the source

Part of the philo-calic culture, its most important, spiritual part is not the analysis of the matter of thought, but the definition of its source. And now I will deviate from the question, but I want to share with you the following: it is important to know the source of the thought. Everything that comes from God, any thought from God always comes with a certain world. Even if this thought condemns you, it at the same time brings you either peace, or hope, or what you will save.

Thoughts that must be despised (I emphasize: not being afraid of them) are those that instill fear in us, darkness, unbelief, uncertainty, which cause panic in us, horror. With all of them, if you find them, especially the confessors, if you find them with prayer, you do not have to argue with them - they must be discarded with contempt. The world of darkness should not frighten us, because God is all-powerful, and the world of darkness must become what we have nothing to do: complete contempt.

St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov)

- Holy fathers, especially the saint Ignatius (Bryanchaninov), testify that in our days hesychasm no longer has a past spiritual intensity. If a hesychast does not have an old man nearby, then how can he rise when he falls, and how does he understand that he did it? Do you think, is it still possible to talk about hesychasm these days? Is hesychast surviving with the same intensity Divine Communion? And does it rise to the level of Christian residence of the first centuries?

- I will answer you again on the line "Keep your mind in hell and do not despair!" The first part: "Keep your mind in hell." No, it's already impossible. If Saint Bryanchaninov at one time, 150 years ago, said so, now we have added 150 years of sins much greater: two world wars (Father Sofrony said: "fratricidal world") - the first in the history of the world war 1914 and the Second World War . He said that after the First World War, the world, known to her, the sense of the dispensation of the world that had been before, was taken from the earth. He was in fact 18, when the First World War began, he was no longer a child, he already knew life. And now he says that this world was taken away, and despair spread over the whole earth. And when he heard the word of Saint Silvanus: "Keep your mind in hell and do not despair," then you felt with power that it was the word given by God to our world in despair. He told me that he fled Russia, found shelter in France, and said: "And I came and got acquainted with France, triumphant after the war. The despair that overshadowed this triumph, this triumphant France, was amazing. "

After World War II, he said that the atmosphere in the world became even worse, and he said that if the third world war begins, then faith itself will become impossible. And then perestroika came, and the war, which was being prepared, did not begin. But we still live in a world war, one way or another, starting from the Second World War until today.

I also said that the post-modern world, material conditions do not allow us to continue this philocalic culture. This can be said a lot, but I summarize all this with the words: "Keep your mind in hell."

If God allows the world to become even more tragic, it means that a person can still be saved

Why "hold"? Because this is reality. Do not try to look at it differently, to rely on vain ideals. This is reality. But also "do not despair." Other ways, other salvation, very paradoxical, some other paradoxical ways of salvation will be submitted today by God. For I understand this: if God lets the world, however tragic it is, becomes even more tragic, it means that God still saves that man can still be saved.

Christ said, and I will paraphrase it a little, I will paraphrase it, saying: "When the world can not be saved, the story will end." He speaks a little differently, read in chapter 13 from the holy evangelist Mark or in 24 from the holy Evangelist Matthew [2]. It can be said that no one soul can not be saved, and not because God could not save, but conditions begin to develop in which people, we, so formatted (for those who are versed in computers: we are not formed, but are formatted so) that God no longer has access to us. God says, but man does not understand, and you see it if you read the Apocalypse.

However, with God, salvation is always ready, and as long as salvation is possible, know that this salvation is paradoxical. I receive many letters in which I see the abundance of salvation in desperate souls, but I can not do anything. I can not answer, nor ... but only pray to the Lord. And sometimes I do not know what to say, except: "May it be, Lord, this is enough for these souls and for all suffering in this way."

In a world where sin is not only allowed, but also preached, freedom comes to unbridledness

Do not despair. God - I once said to someone - God will not conquer the world, but when he started to panic, he added: He already won it, He no longer needs to win it. However, there are paradoxical forms, and these forms ... In a world where sin is not only allowed, but also preached, freedom comes to any demonic unbridledness. This is a world of freedom, in which we also have the freedom to go to God, maybe beyond our fathers. I say this, based on the Apocalypse, which reads: "He who is unjust will still do untruth; the unclean still be filthy; let the righteous man do righteousness yet, and let the holy one be sanctified (Rev. 22, 11).

So, the Word of God grants this freedom to both sin and righteousness. If the omnipotent Word of God grants the freedom of righteousness, then salvation is possible only under much more paradoxical conditions, but, according to the prophecies of the fathers, it can be much more complicated. For several prophecies of the 4th, 5th, 6th centuries read: "What will those who come after us do?" And the fathers say that those who come at the end will be more than us and those (our) who raised the dead. And precisely because the conditions then will be more unfavorable [3].

And I noticed one thing that when everything is good, when you feel good, comfortable, then there is no more God, that is, you can consider that He is no more, it seems to you that He is not. That is, judging by reason and effect ("I did this and that, and everything went well, I thank You"), we now do without God. And only when the conditions are so tragic that you have nothing left, as soon as desperately hoping: "Maybe Someone up there will hear me," then only the power of God begins to manifest itself.

Only in the hardest moments do you really feel the presence of God

One nun from Beirut, Orthodox, said that when the war with Saddam Hussein was going on, on Easter night in Beirut, the war was in full swing, and they did not know whether Easter Eve could be served or not [4]. And yet the Orthodox decided to serve. And she told me that at any moment an attack could begin, a bomb, a shell, a rocket and anything could fall, but nothing fell. And they served the Easter Matins on fear of bombing, and she recalled: "I have never had such a feeling of the Resurrection as it was that night!"

And again I say: only in the most difficult moments do you really feel the presence of God, who in other conditions, it would seem ... does not exist.

- Today the TV has become one of the main attributes of our life and society. Almost all spend with the TV from a few minutes to several hours a day. How do you advise us to treat the TV? How can it affect our spiritual life? How to explain its tremendous appeal for people? Can we talk about the almost magical influence of the imaginary world, when we penetrate into the other world, unreal?

- Yes, it is possible, it is just so. In 1950-ies, when I went to England, since my mother was an Englishwoman, we did not have TVs in Romania, and we did not even hear about them. And when I saw them in the window, I did not understand what it was - these radios with such a thing, the screen, and when asked, my mother told me herself that "this is a TV." Then I watched it, and in the very first contacts with the TV I experienced its hypnotic power. It was a time when there was still little TV in England, the TVs were black and white, and those I had access to had only two buttons: "on" and "off". In comparison with the wealth that you have today ...

And now, when it was "on", it was necessary to watch something there, but only at those hours when I could watch TV, there was not a single program that would be of interest to me. I would like to see some film with cowboys or something else, and there showed a real yearning for me - but I could not take my eyes off the TV! And I realized that God tells me the decision never to have a TV in my life, because I knew that it's weak, that there is not such a drug that, if I try it, I could throw it. And then I decided never to keep in the TV house. I was seized with a kind of sacred fear of him. Of course, I would preach this to everyone, but I do not intend to preach this to you; and that he has such influence, it is obvious.

Since TV began to gain power, I noticed that parents in the West lost control of children, children began to be educated rather by what they saw on TV than what their parents told them. Because on TV you live, and then some abstract concept interferes, you hear it with your ears, but in comparison with the experience that you really have, whether it's real or virtual, the experience wins.

Experience in our Church was available at worship services and prayer - the prayer of the cell, as it is called (ie, your prayer, at your home), and the general prayer, in the church, at the liturgy. They were also experiences: there you are not a spectator of any theatrical performance, but a co-servant, a prayer-book to the priests and all those present, if we just properly live this culture.

The TV is all replaces and in general offers reality in one way or another virtual. Why do I say "in one way or another"? Whether you are looking at a film that, in general, is imagination, virtuality, an imitation of reality, and not reality, or news and the like, it's one thing to see it on the screen, and the other is to be there yourself.

I will add here the computer and the new world that all the electronics, the virtual world, carry with us, more and more tearing us from the real. And this is one of the reasons why we can no longer live with prayer and reality, because we are always in our imagination, our "thinking": since childhood, thanks to various means, today including electronic, we are in the virtual. We and God are accustomed to somehow not to see specifically, but to displace Him to a virtual level and no longer believe in Him.

And this again applies to the first part of the word - "keep your mind in hell." For me, all this electronics now, with my life experience and taken from the perspective with which I tried to look at life - I find it something terrible ... Obviously, this is nothing more than a means that we ought to have to use for good. And on television, too, there are wonderful broadcasts, very instructive and uplifting, which could be fully used for good, but the realities of life and the world are such that all this is much more used for evil.

I do not know what to say to you, where is the deliverance, maybe only in one thing - in the return to the prayer, about which I told you. When you see what you see, say from time to time: "Lord," pray for those who are in adversity, pray that God will protect you.

I will tell you, at last, and this. Whatever our experience - received through the book, through the TV, in the course of life itself, is positive or negative, i.e. experience of sin - in our approach to God, he can become positive and turn for good. And this already applies to the second part of the word - "and do not despair."

We talked about Mary of Egypt. Many times it was noticed, especially in the philo-calic period of the Church, but before and after it too, that sometimes the greatest sinners (we do not know, as God sees them) become the greatest saints. And that consciousness of their sinfulness, which they have, often in some way helps them to go faster and outrun those who live, accumulating positive knowledge. And here lies the paradox: not that an indecent life could be preached as a way of salvation, but still God does so that the life of the prodigal son, if the prodigal son returns to God, becomes salvation. How?

The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Author: N. Losev, 1882

I think you all know the Gospel parable of the prodigal son when the prodigal comes home because he has repented that he has spent his father's good, his inheritance, on the sins of this world, and comes back to the love of his father. Who will now wrest it from her, who will entice him away from the paternoster of love? What other sin can confuse him and take him home again? He now has this experience, and he remains with his father.

And his brother, who lived with his father (note, here, too, the paradox), is jealous of him to his prodigal brother, who has returned back, for which the father is now chewing the fatted calf with joy. And now the son, who always lived in purity and righteousness, is suddenly tempted in an unexpected way - by envy:

- Dad, you never gave me a kid, and when this son came, who has squandered your estate, you are forging a whole fattened calf for him (cf. Luke 15, 29-30).

And here it seems, as we see, that the prodigal and repentant son is now saved, he is now, so to speak, unshakable; In the salvation of the one who lived as it should, we are not yet sure.

Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov)

But, again I say, this does not mean that the path of the prodigal son could be said to be the most salutary or reliable, since if this pernicious path became more reliable through salvation, then of all the saints the Mother of God would be the least, because she was in the most perfect holiness and purity from the very infancy, and maybe even from the mother's womb. So, the way of the Mother of God is true, but I want to say that God acts so paradoxically that it often seems to us in our life that the worst person becomes in the hands of our most good God.

So, our life, more tragic than ever, contains, I would say, promises, maybe even greater than ever. May God reveal to each of you, especially through your confessors, but by all other means known to Him, may He reveal to you this mystery. And I will finish the answer to this question again with the same word, and let it be to you a safety net in all sorts of cases: "Keep your mind in hell" - but do not despair there either. And I want to add: especially there.

"Father, you have remarkably told us about deification, but our life is so pathetic, gray, indecent from the spiritual point of view, that we can not even be considered worthy people, not that" gods. " Mind is jealous of ideals, but our life remains mediocre or worse than average. Is it not because "it is impossible to be a Christian", do we acquire formalism as the most convenient way to be a Christian? What way do we still have?

- Father Sofroniy often complained that we, church people (or, as we say: the Church), have fallen to the point that they reduced spirituality to fresh morality; and that I, perhaps, could summarize this question. We must get out of this covetousness. Spirituality is not morality, morality is the first, most primitive step in our repentance. And what the Gospel offers us, the Gospel, is Life.

Morality is the first, most primitive step in our repentance

I just said that even a virtual life on TV is much stronger than what is offered to us abstractly, in words: they say, you must be such and such and such, - but the TV gives me an experience of something else, and this other influences on me stronger ... Therefore, we must gain this Life, through the prism of which all this biological, let's say, earthly life would become fresh, and then, of course, we will become more and more jealous about it. But how, how do we get to this threshold?

There are very many answers ... But only I do not see any direct answer to this question. Each will be different. However, I want to tell you: look at our era, which is called "new age" ("the new century"). "New Age" is a synonym for postmodernism, but in the minds of the majority it is associated with the religious and paralegal phenomena of our era: yoga, bioenergetics, drugs, Satanism. I do not know, they are thrown into the world like this, splashing out ... What are these new-ageers looking for? They strive to develop their telepathic, bioenergetic potentials, I do not know what else ... But this [development of abilities] is what the Church is in the history, if we understand it correctly. And maybe you should start by asking God: "Lord, show me that there is a Church!" - especially us, priests, confessors, but ... all. And what our contemporaries seek in different religions and practices is exactly what God wants to give us. But exactly, I want to say, in the sense of the essence of the search. Only we often search not so and nearby.

The word "sin" ... In Greek, there are two words "sin", and they both mean "to miss the target": "amartia" (αμαρτία) and "astochia" (αστοχία). Perhaps the most correct, in a certain sense, term for sin would be an "error" ("error"). We are wrong when we sin. We're looking. We want the right thing, but we're looking wrong.

But I will tell you this: pray, do not be tempted, faithful children of the Church, do not be tempted by the scandals that are taking place today in the Church, and ours, your shepherds, by sins. And pray that God will enlighten and forgive us, that He will purify us, purify our Church from all that is unworthy of its holiness.

We all need to return to the right understanding

So, do not be tempted, pray in simple words, as I suggested to you just now. And we, the ministers of the Church, must also ask God to give us a right understanding. You know that "right understanding" is one translation of the word "Orthodoxy", "orthodoxy." "Doxa" means not only glory: it comes from the concept of "opinion", "right opinion" and "right mind" - this is Orthodoxy, and we all need to return to the right understanding.

If we say: "The Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic", then we must return to apostolic understanding, and not reduce faith to the "reductionism" into which we have fallen. Of course, morality is also important, but we will know that this is only the first step.

And, perhaps, the essence of my answer would be the following: you, the people of God, pray for us, your shepherds, and we should pray for you. And we will support each other, do not introduce each other into temptation, and from all temptations, God can lead us. And this way, I think, will be the way in which we can begin to restore the understanding of our Church, and ... I want to say more, but I let the Holy Spirit inspire you with an answer to this question.

[1] Filokalichesky - ascetic, selfless, from the word "Philokalia" - "Philokalia".

[2] This refers to the text of Matt. 24, 3: And when He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and asked: Tell us, when will it be? and what is the sign of your coming and the end of the age? and further, as well as Mk. 13, 7: When you hear about wars and military rumors, do not be appalled: for it is proper to be, - but this is not the end. For the people shall rise against the people and the kingdom upon the kingdom; and there will be earthquakes in places, and there will be famines and turmoil. This is the beginning of disease. But you look after yourself ... and further.

[3] See: The memorable tales of the asceticism of the holy and blessed fathers. About Abba Ishirion.

[4] This was 23 April 2003 year.

Hieromonk Raphael (Neuka)
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