August 2015- Notes on Arab Orthodoxy
The word “Orthodoxy” means upright dogma, correct tradition. It is a way of life based on asceticism, on simplicity in life– “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit rely on God. The true Orthodox person constantly strives along the way of perfection, through purification and illumination to divinization. “Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Yes, Orthodoxy strives for the experience of divinization! It has been tasted fully by the friends of God to whom God has appeared, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is the experience of the prophets, the Apostles and the saints. This experience informs us that we cannot know God in His essence. Spiritual struggle helps us only to participate in His uncreated energies. That is, what comes forth from Him by way of divine grace.
The Orthodox spiritual father acquires the virtue of discernment between what is created and what is uncreated. He discerns what belongs to God and what belongs to something else, to Satan, for example (cf. Hebrews 5:14 and 1 John 4:1). Heresy is the lack of discernment between the created energies of God and His uncreated energies. That is, between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the Evil One. Heresy comes as the result of a darkened, unenlightened and confused intellect. The darkened intellect starts off from intellectual imagination, not from divine inspiration.
There is a difference between the intellect as the human brain, which God created for humans to order the affairs of their life with, and as the heart, as the tool by which humans may connect with God.
The person who is pure in his intellect and in his heart alone can behold God with His saints through divine grace. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). There are many apparitions and dreams that come from the imagination or from the Evil One.
All of this causes us to give importance to the process of repentance and confession so that we may be purified of our passions.
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The true Orthodox faith is acquired through experience, the experience of repentance, of illumination and of beholding God, through purifying the intellect and the heart.
The loss and fragmentation of the intellect on account of selfishness, sin and personal interests distances people today from the love and knowledge of God and also from the love of others. From this come wars, strife between nations and people, and indulgence in vices and deviancies which keep people away from the salvation of their souls and from enjoying divine glory.
Metropolitan of Tripoli, Koura and their Dependencies