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June 22, 2024

The Beauty of a Soul Illuminated by the Holy Spirit (St. Theodore of Edessa)

By St. Theodore of Edessa 
(Philokalia, "A Century of Spiritual Texts")

7. So long as the soul is in a state contrary to nature, running wild with the weeds and thorns of sensual pleasures, it is a dwelling-place of grotesque beasts. Isaiah's words apply to it: "Ass-centaurs shall rest there, and hedgehogs make their lair in it, and there demons will consort with ass-centaurs" (Isa. 34:11, 14. LXX) - for all these animals signify the various shameful passions. But the soul, so long as it is joined to the flesh, can recall itself to its natural state at any time it wishes: and whenever it does so and disciplines itself with diligent effort, living in accordance with God's law, the wild beasts that were lurking inside it will take to flight, while the angels who guard our life will come to its aid, making the soul's return a day of rejoicing (cf. Luke 15:7). And the grace of the Holy Spirit will be present in it, teaching it spiritual knowledge, so that it may be strengthened in what is good and rise to higher levels.

29. Beautiful is a head adorned with a precious diadem, set with Indian stones and lustrous pearls. But incomparably more beautiful is a soul rich in the knowledge of God, illumined by the most luminous visions and having the Holy Spirit dwelling within it. Who can adequately describe the beauty of that blessed soul?

98. "Let your loins be girded, and your lamps burning," says the Lord (Luke 12:35). A good girdle for our loins - one which enables us to be nimble and unhampered - is self-control combined with humility of heart. By self- control I mean abstinence from all the passions. Our spiritual lamp is lit by pure prayer and perfect love. Those who have prepared themselves in this way are indeed like men who wait expectantly for their Lord. When He comes and knocks, they open at once; and when He has entered - together with the Father and the Holy Spirit - He will take up His abode with them (cf. John 14:23). Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He comes will find acting in this manner (cf. Luke, 12:37). 

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