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Baptismís grace, Faith, fear of God

1. Some think that grace and sin ó True Spirit and evil spirit ó dwell together in the soul of the baptized. In thinking this, they teach that while the good Spirit inclines the mind toward good, the evil spirit ó toward the opposite. Through the Gospel and from my own experiences, I have come to understand that before baptism, the soul is guided toward good by a grace from without, while satan nestles in its very profound depths, attempting to impede the mind from righteous intentions. However, at the moment of christening, through the mystery of baptism, the grace settles inside the person and takes control from within, while the demon launches his attacks from without. In this manner, if self-exaltation ruled the soul before its christening, then righteousness replaced it after baptism. Even after baptism, satan attacks the soul ó sometimes more ferociously than before its baptism. However, this is not because evil co-exists with good in the human soul. Heaven forbid! But through the bodyís lethargy and base pleasures, satan releases some kind of smoke (figuratively speaking) before the mind, trying to becloud it. All this occurs through Godís permission, so that a person can achieve spiritual joy through none other than storm, fire and temptation. That is why it is stated in the Gospel: "We went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfillment."

2. From the very first moment of baptism, grace inhabits invisibly in the depth of the soul, hiding its presence from the senses of the newly christened. When he begins to love God with all his heart, then through the senses of the mind, this grace begins to converse with the soul in a mysterious way, uniting him partially with some of its blessings. That is why when a person decides to retain this acquisition forever, he gladly renounces all earthly blessings so that he may fully secure that field in which he found the hidden treasure of life (Mat. 13:44). That is why a person discovers the location of Godís grace only after he had disavowed himself of all earthly blessings. Later, according to the measure of a personís success in performing good deeds, Godís gift of grace reveals its benevolence in his soul. However, God also allows the demons to increase their disturbances of the soul in order to teach it to distinguish sagaciously good from evil, and to make it humble.

3. A person that researches the depths of faith is beset with waves of disparate thoughts, while he that views the subjects of faith with an innocuous spirit will enjoy internal tranquillity.

3. Fasting, as a means that leads toward virtue, has value, but not before God. That is why a pious ascetic should not be proud of his fasting exploit, but only have faith in God to reach his goal. After all, masters in various fields verify their excellence not through the quality of their instruments but through the patient completion of their work, which is a witness as to their masterly skills.

4. No one can love God with all his heart if he first has not stimulated a fear of God in his heart ó because the soul enters into an active love only after it is cleansed and is softened by the fear of God.

5. We are all created in Godís image. However, Godís likeness is accessible only to those who, through their great love, conquered themselves for Him. Because the more we reject ourselves, the more we take on His likeness, Who by His great love reconciled us with Him. Nobody can attain this state without first convincing himself not to be occupied with the allures of a selfish life.

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