by Saint Theophan the Recluse
by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014
Therefore have I loved Thy commandments
more than gold and topaz.
This goes with verse 72 (St. Athanasios).
They have disdained Thy law (see verse 126), yet I consider it more worthy of love than gold and precious stones (Theodoret).
The surrounding sinfulness has set afire his love for God’s commandments.
“The true lover of God is not carried away by the general current” (p.275).
This is a neat statement reminding us that Christians worthy of the name live in a counter-cultural way. Then Theophan has a powerful paragraph on “people of the world” rushing around to fulfill their many needs (sounds very 2022), and the authentic Christians who focus on the one thing needed, closeness to God, kinship with Him.
gold and topaz: all the stuff we try to fill our hearts with. But we experience that they only provoke hunger and thirst. “From this follow affliction and suicides”. Wow, already when he wrote this book!
Therefore I directed myself according to all Thy commandments;
every way that is unrighteous I have hated.
He didn’t profess his love of the commandments by thoughts or words, but by deed.
In a saint (at the difference of sinners), everything is in harmony:
mind (ways of thinking), heart (feelings and sympathies), will (desires and initiatives):
“Inside, everything is directed towards one thing, and consequently everything external is permeated with one spirit, like identical beads strung upon one thread”. (p. 277)
This is a powerful image of the harmony of the one seeking God. I can see Theophan reflecting on this, with this image coming to his mind when he was using his prayer rope!
Why this difference?
Because of sin, the sinner is not in his own state. As sin separates us from God and breaks our inner unity — with the consequence that mind, heart, and spirit all want to go to different directions.
Thanks to God-pleasingness, the saint is in own state, all directed to one thing, all united with God.
God-pleasingness: Great translator’s find!
So, we find harmony in ourselves only when we are true to our own nature, that of pleasing God.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THESE NOTES
Any reflection on these quotes?