A person consists of a soul and body, and
therefore his lifeís path should consist of both physical and spiritual
activities ó of deeds and contemplation.
The path of an active life consists of fasting,
abstinence, vigilance, kneeling, prayer and other physical feats, composing the
strait and sorrowful path which, by the word of God, leads to eternal life (Mt.
The contemplative life consists in the mind
aspiring to the Lord God, in awareness of the heart, focused prayer and in the
contemplation of spiritual matters through such exercises.
Anyone desiring to lead a spiritual way of life
must begin with the active life, and only later set about the contemplative,
for without an active life it is impossible to lead a contemplative one.
An active life serves to purify us of sinful
passions and raises us to the level of functioning perfection; at the same time
it clears the way to a contemplative life. For only those cleansed of passions
and the perfect can set out on that other life, as can be seen from the words
of the Holy Scriptures: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God" (Mt. 5:8), and from the words of Gregory the Theologian:
"Only those who are perfect by their experience can without danger proceed
If it is impossible to find a mentor who is able
to direct us on the path to a contemplative life, then in that instance we must
be guided by the Holy Scriptures, for the Lord Himself commands us to learn
from it, saying: "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have
eternal life" (John 5:39). One should not abandon the active life even
when a person has so excelled in it that he has reached the contemplative, for
the active life assists the contemplative and uplifts it.
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