September 6, 2017

Baptism as a Door Towards Spiritual Progress (St. Gregory of Sinai)

By St. Gregory of Sinai

Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and learn how to accomplish such progression.

To Christ's conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit,

to His nativity the actual experience of joyousness,

to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit,

to His transfiguration the contemplation of divine light,

to His crucifixion the dying to all things,

to His burial the indwelling of divine love in the heart,

to His resurrection the soul's life-quickening resurrection,

and to His ascension divine ecstasy and the transport of the nous into God.

He who fails to pass consciously through these stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the practice of virtue.

Christ’s Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf. Rom. 8:17).

But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly lethal death.

Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify crucifixion and to put death to death.

To suffer for Christ’s sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us.

For the envy which the innocent provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord’s schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens our ears when we are guilty.

That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner (cf. Jas. 1:12).

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

From "Further Texts" 1-2, The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), p. 253.