Saint Silouan the Athonite and His Relevance Today, Part 9

Saint Silouan the Athonite and His Relevance Today, Part 9

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The passion of pride seduced even Lucifer, who was created as the greatest and most glorious angel. Pride is thus the primordial cause of the fall of creation. Infiltrating even unto the heights of the angelic hosts, pride remains the main cause of man’s sin and his separation from God. It is pride and pride alone that transformed Lucifer into Satan. St. John Climacus mentions that a proud man needs no demon; he has turned himself into one; he has become his own worst enemy.

It is interesting to see how St. Silouan himself recalls his own personal experience of having been deluded by spiritual pride on two separate occasions. The first time was when he was a novice, and this was on account of his inexperience. The second time, however, was on account of pride after he accepted a vision. He then suffered greatly. St. Silouan describes how he escaped the grasp of the enemy, and he stresses the important role of the spiritual father and holy confession.

This is why our entire Tradition emphasizes the fundamental role of the spiritual father within the life of the Orthodox Christian. Especially for those who want to cultivate the fullness of their life in Christ, one’s relationship with a spiritual father is even more significant. Without holy confession and the blessings of obedience to one’s spiritual father, there is little or no hope of overcoming the constant and life-long bombardment of the spiritual struggle. Many have been deluded, including those who have made considerable progress.

Without a spiritual father, the believer leaves himself open to a multitude of dangers resulting from the devious deceptions of the enemy. He could be compared to a soldier at war running off into battle without the insight of a seasoned superior officer, or even a promising young athlete who believes he can compete in the Olympic Games, without the aid of an experienced trainer or coach.

The surest way to guard against the delusion of such ‘logismoi’ is to seek the counsel of one’s spiritual father. In this respect, the relationship with one’s spiritual father cannot be overemphasized, for to him is given the grace of guidance and discernment.

The battle against ‘logismoi’ rages on. In this continuous struggle, victories are followed by defeat and positive experiences in prayer are accompanied by spiritual stumbling. It’s an up and down struggle. In this intense and on-going battle, we must remain steadfast in order to resist the enemy and evade his attacks.

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Read the entire St. Silouan series by Dr. Harry Boosalis:

Part 1,  Part 2,  Part 3,  Part 4,  Part 5,  Part 6,  Part 7,  Part 8,  Part 9,  Part 10

 


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Dr. Harry Boosalis

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota of Greek-American parents, Dr. Boosalis grew up at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church. Upon graduation from Seminary, he served his home parish as a lay assistant and youth director under the tutelage of his life-long parish priest, Fr. Anthony M. Coniaris. He earned his doctoral degree in Greece under the direction of Prof. Georgios Mantzaridis. His dissertation provides a systematic presentation of the teaching of St. Silouan of Mount Athos on Orthodox spiritual life, highlighting its relevance for today. Dr. Boosalis has been teaching dogmatic theology as a full time faculty member at St. Tikhon’s since the Fall of 1992, when he organized, developed and implemented a new curriculum for the entire sequence of dogmatic courses in the Master of Divinity degree program. He serves the Seminary as the Chairman of the Department of Theology and Spirituality and is a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Development Committee. He is the author of four books, editor of three more, and is currently working on a textbook. Since the Summer of 2002, Dr. Boosalis has been leading a group of St. Tikhon’s seminarians on an annual pilgrimage to Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece. In the summer of 2009, Dr. Boosalis participated in a teaching mission to Tanzania in East Africa, conducted under the auspices of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). In the summer of 2011, Dr. Boosalis participated in a teaching mission to Turkana, Kenya also conducted under the auspices of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).