The Path to Salvation: The Ardor of Zeal

I couldn’t wait for the start of Great Lent (after Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday, 22 February) to begin reading St. Theophan the Recluse’s The Path to Salvation. But I figured that a) spiritual reading is good almost any time and b) Lenten Triodion is as good as Great Lent itself.

I fear, however, that I’ve gone as far as I can go in the book.

The saint’s introduction to his work notes that:

[I]n a Christian [growth] is a battle with oneself involving much labor, intense and sorrowful, and he must dispose his faculties for something for which they have no inclincation. Like a soldier, he must take every step of land, even his own, from his enemies by means of warfare, with the double-edged sword of forcing himself and opposing himself. Finally, after long labors and exertions, the Christian principles appear victorious, reigning without opposition; they penetrate the whole composition of human nature, dislodging from its demands and inclinations hostile to themselves, and place it in a state of passionlessness and purity, making it worhty of the blessedness of the pure in heart–to see God in themselves in sincerest communion with Him.

Such is the place in us of the Christian life. This life has three stages which may be called: 1) Turning to God; 2) Purification or self-amendment; 3) Sanctification. (The Path to Salvation, p. 23)

So far, so good. The faithful life is intense and serious work. I may not always give my faithful living the attention and effort the work of the Holy Trinity deserves (and I need to give), but I accept this truth about that nature of the work and think that I live it with some consistency.

Now on to chapter one.
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