August 12, 2010

The Three Powers of the Soul and Their Curative Exercises

By St. Theophan the Recluse

In the soul we find three powers: the intellect, the will, the heart, or, as the Holy Fathers say, the intellectual, desiring and incensive powers. Each of them is assigned particular curative exercises by the holy ascetics. These related exercises are both receptive and conducive to grace. They need not be contrived according to some theory, but rather chosen from tested ascetic labors particularly suited to a given power:

For the mind

1) Reading and hearing the Word of God, the writings of the Holy Fathers and the lives of the God-pleasers. 2) Studying and impressing upon yourself all the God-given truths in brief statements (the catechesis). 3) Asking questions of those older and more experienced. 4) Mutual informative discourse with friends.

For the will

1) Submission to the whole church rule. 2) Submission to civil order, or to family duty, for they are conduits of God's will. 3) Obedience to God's will as manifested in your fate. 4) Obeying your conscience in the doing of good deeds. 5) Subjecting yourself to the spirit that is zealous to fulfill its vows.

For the heart

1) Attending holy Church services. 2) Prayer, as specified by the Church; home prayer rule. 3) Using holy crosses, icons and other sacred substances and objects. 4) Observing holy customs established and promoted by the Church....
There are three powers: the intellect, the will and the senses. Corresponding exercises are given to them. They act directly to develop the powers, but in a way that does not quell the spirit-to the contrary, it ignites the spirit more and more. The latter serves as a measure and stabilizer to the former, which subjects itself to the latter to the point of speechless submission or even total cessation

To Be continued...

From The Path to Salvation

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