"Our mind goes outside itself and so unites with God; it becomes more than mind."
Saint Gregory Palamas
Commentary - 70 page pdf
There is an excellent book written by the modern day Romanian theologian Dimitru Staniloae. It is titled: Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar. While initially intended for use in Romanian theological schools it provides an excellent overview of the path to theosis according to Orthodox Tradition. Deacon Charles Joiner recently did a series of commentaries on this book that were posted in our blog Orthodox Way of Life.
What is Meant by Orthodox Spirituality?
Spirituality is a most difficult term because it is used in many ways, often in ways that denigrate true Christian spirituality. Often, when one does not have any real faith they say, "I don't believe in any religion but I am spiritual." The term spiritual generally refers to an undefined inner spirit of man. So, those who do not have any firm religious belief have some sense of this inner spirit, but no clear path or intent to develop it. For Orthodox Christians there is a very very clear notion of this inner sense of spirit and a clear path exists to respond to it.
Orthodox spirituality involves a journey towards a mystical union with God through living the Gospel teachings in the context of the Church and participating in her sacraments and Holy Traditions. Dimitru Staniloae speaks to this in His book, Orthodox Spirituality.
He says Orthodox Christian spirituality
"presents the process of a Christian progress on the road to perfection in Christ, by the cleansing of the passions and the winning of the virtues, a process which takes place in a certain order. In other words, it describes the manner in which the Christian can go forward from the cleansing of one passion to the cleansing of another, and at the same time acquiring of the different virtues."
We need to ask ourselves: "Do we know this process? What are the steps along this path?"
This book provides a clear path for Orthodox Christians.
Below is an index to the posts in this blog. He has also created a pdf document that you can download with all of these posts for you study. This 70 page commentary will provide a guide to the the material in this book.
Orthodox Spirituality - A Commentary on the work of Fr. Dimitru Staniloae (pdf)
An Index to the individual blog entries:
For active links on each topic go to this link on our blog.
i. What is Meant by Orthodox Spirituality?
ii. The Aim
iii. Deification - The Uncreated Light
iv. The Essential Nature of Asceticism
v. Basis for Union with God: Love not Intellect
vi. Working in Community Develops our Soul
vii. Ascent is Based on Love and is Within the Church
viii. Major Steps of the Spiritual LIfe
ix. Are Passions Natural?
x. Causes of Passions
xi. Why Do We Speak of Liberating the Soul?
xii. How the Passions are Aroused
xiii. Free From Fear and Anxiety - Care
xiv. Purification by the Virtues
Part One: Purification
1. Faith: The Starting Point to Perfection
2. Fear of God is Next Step
3. Repentance - Main Means for Our Perfection
4. Repentance - The Ship that brings us to the Divine Harbor
5. Repentance - Way to Overcome Egoism
6. Repentance as a Sacrament
7. Self-Control lifts us to see the infinite in things of this world.
8. Self-Control as Fasting
9. Self-Control to Overcome our Passions
10. Guarding the Mind - Watchfulness - Getting at the Root
11. Guarding the mind- Knocking on the Door of the Heart
12. Longsuffering - Why Troubles and Suffering?
13. Role of Temptations -
14. Hope - Power of Advanced Faith
15. Patience with Hope Leads to Meekness and Humility
16. With Dispassion Love Blossoms
Part Two: Illumination
17. Entering the Next Phase of Spiritual Development
18. Gifts of the Holy Spirit
19. Contemplation of God in Creation
20. How to Discern the Truth (logo) in Things
21. Why is Prolonged Preparation Necessary
22. Steps Needed to Discern Truth
23. Spiritual Understanding of Scripture
24. Going Beyond Knowledge - Apophatic Knowledge
25. Facing the Abyss
26. Positive Theology is a Companion to Apophatic Theology
27. Pure Prayer
28. Developing Pure Prayer
29. Entering Within
30. Mind Beyond Reason
31. Knock and the Door Will Be Opened
32. Mental Rest or Stillness of the Mind
Part Three: Perfection
33. The Steps of Love - The Path to Union
34. Joined in Love
35. Prayer Develops Love and Union with God
36. Divine Love Brings Union of All
37. The Mind and the Divine Light
38. The Divine Light is Spiritual
39. Divine Light - Knowledge Beyond Knowledge
40. The Divine Light
Link to online index