Thursday, November 14, 2013
Following the right path ( Saint Theophan the Recluse )
There are many forces at work which will try to lead us astray from living a God-pleasing life. It is important to continually pay more attention to the inner nudging of our conscience than to external things. This is not to say we should ignore or separate from external events, as this is also a reality of our life. But first and with the highest priority is giving our attention to our inner life directed toward our relationship with God.
Saint Theophan reminds us that this takes courage.
Provide yourself with only one thing, strong encourage: no matter what happens, stay with what you have begun... no matter how life goes, whatever successes and failures there are, you should give all of this over to God's will.When we examine the lives of saints we see that they have been led, often through great difficulties, with God's love. We see that when they devote themselves to perfecting their way of life through God, God leads them to perfection in differing ways.
Living a life focused on God does not necessarily eliminate the difficulties of life in this world. We will surely encounter numerous difficulties, both inner and outer. These are all things that God allows to happen for our benefit. There is one potential danger, however, and that is one of becoming overconfident when we do not encounter such difficulties.
Saint Theophan says,
Those who do not encounter inward or outward impediments and who see that everything is going smoothly began to fantasize that this is the way things are, and they suppose they have driven out all adversaries, who were unable to show themselves. As soon as such thoughts have settled in, the adversary immediately enters and begins fabricating vainglorious dreams from which are born self-conceit, the falling away from God's help, and the cessation of searching and striving after this help.
Therefore, it is important never to let up. Our entire life is one that involves spiritual warfare. We must constantly be alert and humble, recognizing that there is an enemy who is continually trying to distract us from the path.
Reference: The Spiritual Life, pp 175-177.
Saint Theophan the Recluse