Monday, January 28, 2013

On the Presence of God: St. Dimitry of Rostov

"God, as Everywhere-present and the Filler-of-all-things, with His almighty, all encompassing and all guiding power, is near every person; He is near the evil, and He is near the good. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt. 5:45). He holds the life of all, the good and evil, the righteous and sinners. In Him everyone lives moves and has their being (Acts 17:28). But His special grace, [His] merciful salvation, which helps, covers and guides, does not abide with every person, but only with those who in heartfelt love and fear turn to Him their noetic eyes; always seeing Him as if present before them, according to the words of David the prophet: I beheld the Lord ever before me (Ps. 15[16]:8). Thus, for the sake of His presence, and for love and fear of Him, everything that is done, whatever is spoken or thought, all is done in a God-pleasing manner, all is said honestly, all thoughts are good and profitable; all of life is lived in good works and a soul-saving manner, as if before the All-seeing Eyes of God, repeating often within oneself the words of the prophet Elijah: The Living Lord … before whom I stand (1 Kings 17:1), or speak in this manner: the Living Lord, before Whose All-seeing Eyes I walk, stand, sit, work, eat, drink, speak, converse and think. Everything I do, I do before His most-bright eyes; therefore I dare not do something bad, or say, or think anything impure; so that He, in displeasure, would not strike me suddenly and unexpectedly with all my lawlessness. In this manner where a person contemplates God with noetic eyes there He abides. For He draws near to those who themselves draw near to Him; He is present with those who seek His presence, and He gazes upon those who gaze on Him. This is as it were a mirror. Whoever looks in a mirror sees a face, which is reflected in the mirror, but when he turns from the mirror he also turns from the face he beheld in the mirror. In a similar manner our Lord God turns to those who turn to Him, and looks upon those who look upon Him. His face is turned from those who turn away from Him and He does not gaze on those who do not look to Him, or those who do not desire to see His presence in themselves."  St. Dimitry of Rostov, Instruction in Virtue, translated from Russian.