Theosis In Our Time

“Once I gave a talk about theosis at a theological school, and afterward a student came up, pen and paper at the ready. He asked me, ‘Are there any case histories?’ I couldn’t figure out what he meant, so he said, ‘Has anyone every actually tried to do this?’

“It hit me how difficult this is to visualize, if you don’t have an example of how it works out in practice. It’s the saints who are our ‘case histories.’ They give us an opportunity to see how multitude of people, from all background, ages, and stations of life, ‘did it.’ We put their icons in our homes like a boy who dreams of being a baseball player and puts up posters of his heroes. We gaze at the saints so we can learn how to do what they did.

“Being a saint is not a private attainment, a kind of spiritual mountain-climbing. Its goal is not simply to accumulate more spiritual experiences. As spirituality gained popularity in recent years, I’ve sometimes felt that there’s an unpleasantly narcissistic edge to it, as if it’s a spiritual makeover project. The real mark of a saint is, instead, that his transformed life overflows for others. The Christ-filled person acquires nothing for himself, he dies to self. In that dying he receives life, and gives it to all.”
–– Frederica Mathewes-Green, Welcome to the Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity

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