some interesting notes

Here are some notes concerning the spiritual life which I find very interesting. They come from a man called Origen.

Origen was born in 184 or 185 in Alexandria, Egypt, a thriving city founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. Alexandria was a center of commerce and culture, the birthplace of Neoplatonism and the hometown of the Philo, the great Jewish philosopher. Christianity arrived as early as the close of the first century AD, in both its Catholic and Gnostic forms, and eagerly joined the rich atmosphere of philosophical discussion already present. In sharp contrast to Latin theologians such as Tertullian, Alexandrian Christians viewed Greek philosophy as a useful means for interpreting and sharing their faith.

Origen was the eldest of seven children. His mother’s name is unknown, but his father was Leonides, a Roman citizen of high standing {2} and probably a teacher of Greek literature. Leonides personally educated his brilliant son in both Hellenistic and Biblical studies, and  often found himself unable to answer Origen’s probing questions regarding the latter. (Google)

SPIRITUAL LIFE OR
A JOURNEY OF THE SOUL

Origen considers spiritual life as a serious journey of the soul. Through this journey the soul returns by divine grace to her original nature, and becomes an icon of God. Thus, she can be raised up through canonical struggling till her return to the bosom of God.

It is a dangerous trip, or it is a continuous battle, but it has its sweetness through unceasing victory over the evil world, sin and demons. Believers examine the work of the Holy Trinity while they are struggling.

Through His grace God leads the soul on and on, from a knowledge of one’s self to the struggle against sin, to practices of asceticism, to the mystical ascent, until at last she is admitted to the mystical (spiritual) union with the Logos:

The soul is moved by heavenly love and longing when, having clearly beheld the beauty and the fairness of the Word of God,

it falls deeply in love with His loveliness and receives from the Word Himself a certain dart and wound of love…

If, then, a man can so extend his thinking as to ponder and consider the beauty and the grace of all the things that have been created in the Word, the very charm of them will so smite him, the grandeur of their brightness will so pierce him as with a chosen dart, as the prophet says (Isa. 49:2), that he will suffer from the dart Himself a saving wound, and will be kindled with the blessed fire of His love.


This trip of the souls is the ladder of Paradise, which the patriarch Jacob saw, being traversed by those spirits that fall away or by those other spirits that are restored, in the course of several lives, to the dignity they had at the beginning. The poem of heaven unrolls according to the same law. Heaven is peopled by souls that have fallen away but are more meek and mild than the others to wisdom, and they take part in the splendid liturgy of the celestial city. Moreover, a more perfect universe, is to come, in which matter, having become pure and ethereal, will form the new world.

DISCOVERING ONESELF

The first stage of spiritual life is that in which a believer returns to himself, acknowledges himself, and discovers world in miniature within himself.

Origen understands that the real world is the world inside man, or his spiritual being, which in a sense partakes of the nature of God. His concept originated in the meeting of two great doctrines:

1. The biblical one that man was created as an icon of God. To be more precise, man was made not just in God’s icon but in the icon of the Logos. It is said in the Book of the Song of Songs, “If you know not yourself, O fairest among women, go forth and follow after the steps of the flocks” (Song 1:7).

2. The Platonist one that man’s perfection depends on his likeness to God.
Man is also involved in the life of the senses, which is foreign to his essence. he loses God’s icon in so far as he molds himself to the pattern of animal life. Spiritual life will therefore consist of the process by which he returns to his true nature, his efforts first to realize what he is and then to try and recover his real nature by destroying the power of his corrupt animal life. To the extent to which he succeeds, he will recover the image of God that once was in him and in it will see God.

In other words, a believer in acknowledging his inner-self feels two realities:

1. His need to returning to his original nature by divine grace.

Who, although they have been given by God the grace of thinking on and understanding many things, neglect other spheres of knowledge and give no heed to self-knowledge.

He who does not realize his own weakness and the divine grace, even if he receives a benefit before he has come to know himself and condemn himself, will come as his own achievement what has actually been freely supplied him from the heavenly grace. This produces pride and arrogance, and will be a cause of his downfall.

(Thanks to Nasa for the photos)
2. The real world is within him.

Understand that you are another and that there is within you the sun, the moon, and the stars…

Do you doubt that the sun and the moon are within you to whom it is said that you are the light of the world?

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