Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fear and Longing

IN A RECENT post, Fr. Steven at Glory to God for All Things, quotes the following from Elder Sophrony:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). This fear descends on us from on High. It is a spiritual feeling, firstly of God and then of us ourselves. We live in a state of awe by virtue of the presence of the Living God together with awareness of our own impurity. This fear places us before the Face of God to be judged by Him. We have fallen so low that our distress over ourselves turns into profound suffering, more painful than the torments of seeing ourselves in the darkness of ignorance, in the paralysis of non-feeling, in slavery to the passions. The dread is our awakening from the age-old sleep in sin. It brings us the light of perception – on the one hand, of our fatal condition and, on the other, of the holiness of God. It is an astonishing phenomenon – without its naturally purificative action the way to perfect love of God will not be opened to us. It is not only ‘the beginning of wisdom’ but of love, too. It will also alarm our soul with a revelation of ourselves, as we are, and bind us to God in longing to be with Him(*).
Fear is a gift, given not to ruin or stunt my life, but to renew and save it. It wakes me up. That is, it is "an astonishing phenomenon" that will "alarm our soul with a revelation of ourselves."
*We Shall See Him As He Is: The Spiritual Autobiography of Elder Sophrony

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