Philokalia

Philokalia

Friday, April 11, 2014

Forged in the Fire of Ascetic Struggle

The purgative stage pertains to those newly engaged in spiritual warfare. It is characterized by the rejection of the materialistic self, liberation from material evil, and investiture with the regenerate self, renewed by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 3:10). It involves hatred of materiality, the attenuation of the flesh, the avoidance of whatever incites the mind to passion, repentance for sins committed, the dissolving with tears of the bitter sediment left by sin, the regulation of our life according to the generosity of the Spirit, and the cleansing through compunction of the inside of the cup (Matthew 23:26)—the intellect—from every defilement of flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1), so that it can then be filled with the wine of the Logos that gladdens the heart of the purified (Psalm 104:15), and can be brought to the King of the celestial powers for him to taste. Its final goal is that we should be forged in the fire of ascetic struggle, scouring off the rust of sin, and steeled and tempered in the water of compunction, so that swordlike we may effectively cut off the passions and the demons. Reaching this point through long ascetic struggle, we quench the fire within us, muzzle the brutelike passions, become strong in the Spirit instead of weak (Hebrews 11:33–34), and like another Job conquer the tempter through our patient endurance.

Nikitas Stithatos