Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Object of Christian Life

What is the object of Christian life? Many have asked this question and many have endeavoured to answer it, in order to follow a true Christian life, according to Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. St Seraphim of Sarov gives an over-simplified exegesis of the object of Christian life, which, nevertheless, gives a clear indication of the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Prayer, fasting, vigils, and other Christian practices, although wholly good in themselves, certainly do not in themselves constitute the end of our Christian life: they are but the indispensable means for the attainment of that end. For the true end of the Christian life is the acquiring of the Holy Spirit. As for fasts, vigils, prayers, alms and other good works done in the name of Christ – these are the means whereby we acquire the Holy Spirit. Note well that is it only those good works which are done in the name of Christ that bring us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Other actions, even good ones, not done in the name of Christ, can neither procure us a reward in the life of the age to come, nor win us the grace of God in the present life. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ has said: He that gathereth not with me, scattereth’ (Matt. Xii, 30). In other words, there is for the Christian no such thing as an autonomous good: a work is good in so far as it furthers our union with God, in so far as it makes grace ours. The virtues are not the end but the means, or, rather, the symptoms, the outward manifestations of the Christian life, the sole end of which is the acquisition of grace.’[1]

[1] Lossky, Vladimir, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 1991, pp.196-197. 

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