|The Spiritual Life is Not a Race|
The Fathers and Mothers of the Church often speak of two ways we err in our pursuit of godliness: to the left and to the right. Error to the left is the error of casting off restraint, of giving in to temptation, of letting go of all discipline. It is what St. Isaac calls in one place, “the freedom that precedes slavery.” We can easily err in our pursuit of the Christian life by being too easy on ourselves, by not disciplining and controlling our thoughts, words and actions. However, this way of err is pretty well known. Many of us have been warned repeatedly of the dangers of relaxing our discipline—we have been warned so much that we may have even developed a fear of letting up, a fear that we might loose everything if we relax in one area or another.
The Christian way is the middle way, the way of humility and life-giving discipline. It is the way of trusting in God—it is not about trusting in my ability to please God.
Thank you very much for putting this up, father. By God's grace, you always put up something I'm going through at exactly the right moment. Thank you very much for this. Erring on the right side is hard because as much as I want to let up, I do feel like that would be being lazy...but I'm glad to see that this might not be the case. Thank you for sharing this piece of wisdom.
Dear Fr. Michael,
Can you say more about the scriptural warning not to be lukewarm and the need for moderation?
I listened to your podcast of this, this morning in the car on my drive to work. The phrase "the freedom that precedes slavery" really struck a nerve for me - where in St. Isaac's writings can I find that? Is it in one of his homilies? I'm having a St. Isaac week, apparently - he keeps coming up in my reading - Thank you for your podcast- I always enjoy it. - Jason Gagnon
the quote, "Beware of the freedom that precedes an evil slavery" is from p. 278 of the second edition of St. Isaac's homilies (homily 32).
Thank you for this post, father. I struggle with staying on the path of moderation, and this provided some much-needed wisdom.
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