Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia – The way of Love

What is Paradise? Saint Porphyrios tells us:

It is Christ. Paradise begins here and now. It is exactly the same: those who experience Christ here on earth, experience Paradise… Our task is to attempt to find a way to enter into the light of Christ“.

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Saint Porphyrios tells us that what Christ wants most of all is:

to fill us with joy, because He is the wellspring of joy. This joy is a gift of Christ“.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Christ is the source of life, the source of joy, the source of the true light, everything. Whoever loves Christ and other people truly lives life. Life without Christ is death: it is hell, not life. That is what hell is––the absence of love. Life is Christ. Love is the life of Christ. Either you will be in life or death. Its up to you to decide“.

The fear comes from our recognition of the awesome responsibility we have to love others.

Saint Porphyrios continually emphasizes that our first thought should always be love of God. He says:

Christ is joy, the true light, happiness. Christ is our hope. Our relation to Christ is love, eros, passion, enthusiasm, longing for the divine. Christ is everything. He is our love. He is the object of our desire. This passionate longing for Christ is a love that cannot be taken away. This is where joy flows from“.

The Way of Love is the unending focus on love of Christ. Saint Porphyrios’ method, is nothing more than loving Christ––Loving Him so much that nothing else takes precedence. In this way we overcome our ego, passions and evil. It is an all consuming love. Our mind has no room left for anything else but Christ.

Saint Porphyrios says:

If you are in love, you can live amid the hustle and bustle of the city center and not be aware you are in the city center… Imagine the person you love is Christ; Christ is in your mind, Christ is in your heart, Christ is in your whole being, Christ is everywhere“.

This is our challenge. To love Christ is is to lift us above all our earthly concerns, to experience continual joy no matter how difficult a situation we face, no matter what turmoil is taking place around us. This is the way life was meant to be lived.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Whoever loves Christ and other people truly lives life. Life without Christ is death; it is hell, not life. Life is Christ. Love is the life of Christ. Either you will be in life or in death. It’s up to you to decide“.

The love of God transforms everything; it sanctifies, amends and changes the nature of everything“.

When you find Christ, you are satisfied, you desire nothing else, you find peace. You become a different person. You live everywhere, wherever Christ is. You live in the stars, in infinity, in heaven with the angels, with the saints, on earth with people, with plants, with animals, with everyone and everything. when there is love for Christ, loneliness disappears. You are peaceable, joyous, full. Neither melancholy, nor illness, nor pressure, nor anxiety, nor depression nor hell“.

The Way of Love is the simplest and most direct way to join in union with Christ. Through our love of Him we are sanctified.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Whoever experiences Christ within himself, experiences ineffable things––holy and sacred things. He lives in exultation“.

With Christ as our lover there is no loneliness. We find peace and joy. The thought of Christ permeates everything. We find patience and have endurance of everything. Saint Porphyrios says that with our love of Christ even our passions disappear. There is no longer possibility for hatred, dislikes, anxieties or depressions. Not even death concerns us. He says this longing we have for Christ makes even death seem like a bridge what we can cross in an instant to continue our life in Christ We find ourselves in Christ and Him in us.

With our Love of Him there is no longer pain or suffering. Our craving for God, our passionate love for Him, overcomes all pain.

Divine craving defeats every pain, and so every pain is transformed and becomes love of Christ. Love Christ and He will love you All pains will pass away, they will be defeated and transformed“.

The love of God transforms everything; it sanctifies, amends and changes the nature of everything“.

Once you have the love of Christ in your heart what else is there to long for? All the things of this world only leave us wanting more and often burden us with worries and upkeep. But having Christ in our heart is all fulfilling and yields only joy.

No other joy, no other beauty, nothing else can rival Him“.

Once you have this love for Christ what can surpass it? What is greater? How can it be even greater than our love for our parents or our children? But it is. It is a love that never falters. It is unwavering, unconditional and unlimited. No other kind of love is as great as this.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Fleshly love has a point of satiety. therefore jealousy and disgruntlement may set in…Love in Christ knows no alteration. Worldly love remains for a time, and is gradually extinguished, whereas divine love continually grows and deepens“.

This love for Christ has no point of satisfaction.

Saint Porphyrios says:

You cannot have enough of Him, the more you believe that you don’t love Him and the more you desire to love Him. At the same time, however, your soul is flooded by His presence and your joy in the Lord is inalienable“.

Saint Porphyrios tells us that:

murmuring against your neighbor affects your soul and you are unable to pray“.

We must make ourselves worthy for prayer he advises us. And our unworthiness comes from our inability to love our neighbor as ourselves.

True prayer is not easy. It is based on a close relationship with God. It requires a self-giving to God and His will.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Those who desire and crave to belong to Christ and who abandon themselves to the will of God become worthy“.

Saint Porphyrios says we should not ask in our prayer for something like “free me from illness” or “solve my problem”. What we should ask for is for His support and strength to deal with what we are given in life. It is natural for us to ask God for what we want. But this is self centered. Do we know what it is that God wants?

Saint Porphyrios says:

We shouldn’t continue relentlessly in order to acquire what we want; rather we should leave all things to the will of God. What happens when we peruse what we want? These always increase and we are never satisfied with what we have. The more we chase after these wants the more elusive they become. If we pray for good grades next we will ask for a good job. Then it will be for a better job and so forth“.

What should we ask for in our prayer?

The Saint says:

In our prayer we should ask only for the salvation of our soul…. The secret is to ask for your union with Christ with utter selflessness, without saying “give me this” or “give me that.”… We should ask for the will of God to be done“.

The enemy is our egoism.

To be able to have our mind continually turned towards God in love we must pray and meditate on His words. Saint Porphyrios advises that prayer is not based on our effort. It is only done with the Holy Spirit. He says, “In human prayer effort represents only a time millionth part”.

He says we need to have the proper surroundings:

The reading of Scripture, the singing of psalms, the light of an oil lamp, and the fragrance of incense all create the appropriate atmosphere so that everything happens naturally, in simplicity of heart“.

It is important to create a quiet place in our homes for our daily prayer.

He advises us to pray for the divine light to shine within us to open our spiritual eyes to understand His divine words. To pray the words, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us”, we need divine eros, he says:

Love is sufficient to bring us into a suitable frame of mind for prayer. Christ will come on His own and He will stoop over our soul as long as he finds certain little things which gratify Him: good intention, humility and love….”

There are some preconditions for this to take place. He advises:

Our heart must be pure and free from all impediments. It must be devoid of hatred, egotism and malice. We must love His and He must love us…. the secret is to ask for forgiveness“.

The message is always the same. Love. Love God with all your heart and you will receive His grace. You will have a pure heart and your mind will be suitable for prayer. No effort will be needed.

The Saint tells us:

Simplicity and gentleness are a very saintly mode of spiritual life, but you cannot learn this in an external way. It must suffuse itself mystically within you so that your soul embraces this mode of life through the grace of God“.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Not only experience and genuine desire, but also wisdom, care and prudence are required if our prayer is to pure and pleasing to God“.

Prayer should not be seen as a chore or an obligation but rather an act of love.

Saint Porphyrios says:

Pray to God with love and yearning. And when you repeat the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Say it slowly, humbly, gently and with divine love. Pronounce the name of Christ with sweetness. Say the words one at a time: “Lord…Jesus…Christ…have mercy on me,” smoothly, tenderly, affectionally, silently, secretly, mystically, but with exaltation, with longing, with passion, without tension, force of unbecoming emphasis, without compulsion and pressure. In the way a mother speaks to the child she loves “my little boy…me darling girl…my little Johnny…my sweet Mary!

This prayer will lead you to silence. Gradually the words are lost. The soul prefers silence. There comes a time of true prayer where there is nothing but silence. And as the Saint says, “The flood of divine love fills the soul with joy and exultation“.

What are we to pray for? We should pray for “the Church, for the world, for everyone“, says Saint Porphyrios. We cannot just pray for ourselves. We must have a strong desire for the world to become sanctified.

When we are suffering or in need, we should ask others to pray for us. When we all pray with faith and love seeking God’s help He intervenes and this is when miracles happen. Saint Porphyrios speaks to prayer for others:

Prayer for others which is made gently and with deep love is selfless and has great spiritual benefit. It brings grace to the person who prays and also to the person for whom he is praying. When you have great love and this love moves you to prayer, then the waves of love are transmitted and affect the person for whom you are praying and you create around him a shield of protection and you influence him, you lead him towards what is good. When He sees your efforts, God bestows His grace abundantly on both you and on the person you are praying for“.

He then adds “But we must die to ourselves. Do you understand?” We cannot pray properly without humility. This is essential. Our own wisdom is never sufficient. The personal advice we give to others is not the secret. In prayer we seek God’s grace. His grace comforts and heals.

The Saint says:

The secret lies in our devotion, our prayer to God for what is best for our brethren to come about through the grace of God. That is the best. What we are unable to do will be done through His grace“.

We must become filled, replete with the Holy Spirit. This is where the essence of spiritual life lies. This is an art––the art of arts. Let us open our arms and throw ourselves into Christ’s embrace“.

We need to approach Christ just like we willingly, with a joyful heart, join with a loved one who approaches us with open arms for an embrace. It is a self-giving, a surrender, a joy-filled submission to His love. Once we are willing to accept His love without any conditions, the Holy Spirit will visit us and embrace us in God’s love.

Saint Porphyrios says:

There is one thing we must do, and that is turn to Him and love Him with our soul. Love for Christ: this is the best and sole remedy for the passions“.

The way of Love taught by Saint Porphyrios avoids directly attacking evil. It is through an exclusive focus on our love for Christ that evil is defeated and not by our efforts. To do otherwise invites struggle and much effort.

Saint Porphyrios says:

If evil comes to assault you, turn all you inner strength to good, to Christ. Pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” “.

By giving your heart totally to God there is no room for anything else. There is no need to try and attain virtue or fight off evil. God will give you the needed virtues. Just fill your heart and mind with love for God.

The Saint says: “Love Him simply and humbly, without any demand, and He Himself will free you“.

Saint Porphyrios says:

The Soul is sanctified and purified through the study of the words of the Fathers, through the memorization of the psalms and of portions of Scripture, through the singing of hymns and through the repetition of the Jesus Prayer“.

He says that the kind of effort necessary is “To study and pray and have your aim to advance in the love of God and of the Church“. The object is not to sit and afflict and constrict yourself in order to improve. The object is to live, study, to pray and to advance in love––in love for Christ and for the Church.

This is a very practical way in today’s busy life. Don’t aggravate yourself with fighting the evil, but concentrate on your own study and prayer until this love for God is always at the forefront of your mind and heart. Simply set aside time for daily study and prayer with emphasis on the use of the Jesus Prayer. Then when you face difficulties God will be the first thought you have and your love for Him will bring you divine grace. Then you will act with the support of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Porphyrios says:

What is holy and beautiful and what gladdens the heart and frees the soul from every evil is the effort to unite yourself to Christ, to love Christ, to crave for Christ and to live in Christ, just as Saint Paul said, ”It is no longer I who live, Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20)“.

He advises us to make our struggle with calmness and simplicity. We don’t gain by forcing ourselves to be good or forcing ourselves to pray. We need to do things naturally and calmly. We need to do them because of our love of Christ. With love there is no need for forcing. When we love Christ we enthusiastically long for time in prayer and to participate in the Divine Liturgy and the Sacrament of Holy Communion and Confession.

Likewise when we love God we should not struggle with temptations. When we do we only acknowledge the strength of the temptation and it gains control in you. When temptations arise focus on your love of God instead of attacking. When our mind is filled with Love of Christ there is no room to entertain temptations.

He says:

Let all your strength be turned to love for God, worship of God and adhesion to God“.

As we study the hymns and psalms, when we pray, devoting ourselves to love of Christ, we receive grace and are able to combat temptations with ease. The challenge is to keep our mind focused on our heart which contains our insatiable love of Christ.

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[Source: “Wounded by Love (The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios)”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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