Skip to main content

The Three Ways

            In the fourth century Evagrius Ponticus described three levels of spiritual growth which is the basis of all orthodox Christian spiritual direction.  These are commonly known as Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive.

            I have found the three ways helpful guides as I long to grow closer to God.  They help me recognize spiritual growth in my life as well as explain spiritual progress to others.  These three ways point me to God and show me how to detach from the world. They remind me that the goal of my Christian life is to be one with God.

            In the Purgative, souls purge themselves from the world.  Along with humility, losing interest in the world’s offerings is the real beginning of the spiritual journey.  Finally the world pales in comparison to knowing the love of God.  Priorities change.  How you think about material possessions becomes transformed.  Jesus called us to humble repentance.  That is the first stage of returning to our true identity as God’s dearly beloved children.  The purgative is a conversion of the heart.  Jesus said: Where your treasure is there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).  When you treasure God more than the world, you are moving through the purgative way.  You begin to see how foolish you have been to try to derive satisfaction from the world.  Sometimes you are the last to notice that you are not the same person you used to be.  Your humble repentance has transformed your wants, your hopes and your dreams.  Not only do you purge the world from your obsession, you are no longer totally consumed with yourself.

            A deepening level of spirituality touches souls who have made a break from the slavery of the world.  Their minds are converted with light from God.  They are able to discern heavenly perspectives, especially about suffering.  Jesus told us that we must take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 6:24).  Souls that are illuminated with the light of Christ embrace the mystery of suffering.  They believe everything that happens in their lives, whether good or bad, will accomplish God’s glory when they place their trust in God.  Intimacy with God is desired more than an easy life.  It’s at this stage of the spiritual journey that past friends and family may become disappointed because the person they liked is now focused on totally different values.  Not only does the soul not like what is once liked, it also sees and understands more about God’s glorious work in the world.  It is as if the mind is illuminated and can see beyond the circumstances to the glory and purposes of God.  This soul is making great spiritual progress in turning back to God.

            The goal of our Christian life is the Unitive way.  This is the conversion of the spirit when we are one with God.  Another world for this is Theosis.  Jesus prayed that we could see His glory (John 17:1-5).  That is what happens in the Unitive way.  It is a Mountain top experience with God that all souls long for.  We are created to partake in the glory of God.  This is what was lost in our demise through sin.  God longs for us to share in His glory. As we progress through humility and obedience, intimacy with God is our soul’s destination.

Copyright © 2013.  Deborah R. Newman www.teatimeforyoursoul.com  All Rights Reserved.

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Moving Forward

It’s been half a decade since my husband of 27.5 years died suddenly of a brain bleed.  My life turned upside down that weekend, and nothing will ever be the same.  Someone commented to me that I had moved-on.  It was meant to be a compliment, and I totally get the affirmation that was intended.  The truth is I have not moved-on, nor do I ever expect that I will.  I love this quote sent to me in a sympathy card and have shared it over and over with others.  St Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: I can never lose one whom I have loved unto the end; one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated does not go away but only goes before.               Grief should have a beginning, middle and end; that is true.  That first year or two I would have done anything to diminish my pain.  I was in so much pain that I wasn’t even a person.  It’s hard to believe that we humans will naturally grow more comfortable existing in our pit of despair of grief than to let it go…

Thank You Dad

Recently I have been contemplating why it is ingrained in me that I must be quiet and respectful and look at the flag when the national anthem is played.  It’s as natural for me as standing for the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah or for the Bride when she walks through the back door.  Like a Pavlov dog, my instincts go into action, and I do not even think about my somewhat conditioned response. Why?  It was definitely my own father who had the most influence over me regarding the national anthem.  I am not a sports enthusiast.  However, from a young age I found myself at sports games because my older brother played every sport offered.  Our family faithfully attended those games, which normally started with the national anthem.  I found a way to enjoy the otherwise agonizing experience of being held prisoner to my brother’s sporting events by gravitating to my friends who were there under duress as well.  We made up games of our own; we would laugh and talk throughout the q…

Traveling Through

I am writing this week’s Tea Time devotion from the airport in Houston, Texas.  When I set out my travel plans months earlier, I never expected to use the Houston International airport at all.  I’ve been here two times in the last three days, and the last time it was for about six hours due to weather at my destination!  In fact, for the last four days I have been traveling back and forth from two different Central American countries, and only one of my four days of flying proceeded as planned.  I’ve had a lot of time to ponder airline practices; and I can come up with a multitude of suggestions for what they could do better, but that is not my job.  The long, strenuous, and unexpected travel has driven home the instructions Peter gives to Christians in his two letters:But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every ef…