St. Paisios on ManlinessDec 06, 2021
We promise to assist you along the path of authentic, Christian manhood, and we pray we can aid each other -
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13
Saint Paisios, our patron, has this to say about attaining this manliness:
'According to our Holy Fathers, the passions derive from the unnatural use of the functions of the body or of the powers of the soul. When this "contrary to nature" use becomes chronic, it also becomes a bad habit that requires a great struggle to be uprooted.'
footnote on page 21, Passions and Virtues. Vol. 5, Saint Paisios of Mt. Athos Spiritual Counsels (This is a basic definition of what a “passion” is.)
Psalm 51:12 (50:14 LXX) - In the KJV this is poorly translated as "uphold me with thy free spirit." Willing spirit is closer to the intent. In the LXX it is translated as governing spirit.
St. Paisios tells us that the passions are powers of the soul.
God does not grant weaknesses; He grants powers. But when we do not exercise these powers for what is good, then the devil comes to exploit them and they become passions, and afterwards, we complain and blame God. On the other hand, if we exercise these powers against evil, they will help us in the spiritual struggle.
So a governing spirit is helpful. Manliness involves power under control, both of soul and body. The greater fight is in the heart of a man.
One has to become aware of his powers and utilize them for what is good. This is how we can attain, with the help of God, a good spiritual state. True self-awareness.
For instance, anger indicates that the soul possess manliness which helps in the spiritual life. One who is not hot-tempered and lacks manliness won't be able to easily put his self (ego) into place. (my emphasis) If an irascible person utilizes this power of his in the spiritual life, then he's like a car racing steadily on a straight road. But if this power is not properly utilized, and one leaves himself unrestrained, then he's like a car spinning out of control on rough terrain.
Passions and Virtues. Vol. 5, Saint Paisios of Mt. Athos Spiritual Counsels, pg. 22
Many, nay, most of us did not receive this awareness from the men we grew up with.
"The Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12 KJV) this tells us that men use their power to bring the body into submission to the soul. Doing not what feels good but the better things, the things that are “the one thing needful.”
Luke 10:41-42 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Let us aim at this kind of power, not just power of the body, but power of the soul. Our aim is true manhood. Jesus truly is The Man, The God Man. Communion with Him is our destiny, our one true hope, our salvation.
Fr Stephen Lourie
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