How precious is the time of this life! Every minute has great worth, for within one minute we can think so many things, either good or evil. One godly thought raises us to heaven, and one diabolical thought lowers us to hell. So then, behold how valuable every minute in this present life is. Unfortunately, though, we do not think about this, and hours, days, and years pass with no profit—but is it merely with no profit? How much damage we have all suffered—and I, first—without realizing it! But some day, when our soul is about to depart from our body, we shall realize it. But, alas, it will be too late; there is no room for correction then.
We must realize this now when we can still make a start. We should take advantage of the precious time of our life. Truly blessed is he who compels himself and makes a start, because some day he will become spiritually rich. It is never too late, for the Lord awaits each one of us to awaken so that He may give us work. He waits until the eleventh hour. 1 He tries with every means to awaken us.
I pray that all of us will awaken, light our lamps, and with a vigilant eye wait patiently for the Lord to come, so that we may enter the resplendent bridal chamber of eternal bliss, the festival of the bright angels, to chant with them the resurrectional canticles, which will elevate us from theoria † to theoria and to divine ascents! Then—oh, then!—we shall fully realize what a great work it is to compel ourselves in everything and that our superiors did well to push us and grieve us, for we shall say, “Behold what we see now!” Then our thanks to God will have no limits. Then we shall really render thanks worthily to God!
1 cf. Mt. 20:6
Theoria is the “vision of the spirit” or “a non-sensible revelation of the
nous” (St. Isaac the Syrian) through which one attains spiritual
knowledge. That is, through theoria, the Holy Spirit grants one understanding
of the mysteries of God and creation which are hidden to the rational human
intellect. Knowledge stemming from theoria is revelation from above. Theoria
is not intellectual work, but an operation of the Holy Spirit which opens the
eyes of the soul to behold mysteries. The Church Fathers often contrast it
with praxis which is an indispensable prerequisite of theoria. In the first
stage of theoria, the prayer is said without distraction and with a sense of
the presence of God with love, peace, mourning, etc. In the next stage, the
nous proceeds to feel what Adam felt in Paradise before the Fall, and it sees
spiritually how all nature glorifies God. Furthermore, it sees His omnipotence,
omniscience, and providence therein. St. Maximos the Confessor calls this
perceiving the inner essences or principles of created beings (Philokalia,
vol. II, p. 69). In the final stage of theoria, one beholds God Himself in
uncreated light. (Evagrios the Solitary, On Prayer, Philokalia, vol. I,
p. 61). See also contemplation.
From the book
Councels from the Holy mountain
Selected from the letters and homilies of Elder Efraim of Arizona
subm. no. 22
paragraphs: 9, 8, 4, 7, 10+3, 5, 12, 11, 13 from pages 56-63
Selection of passages from the book by Silviu Podariu