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Spiritual Growth and Maturity

“…the seed or root of all virtues is humility, which opens the human heart to the grace of God, inviting into it Christ Himself—Who humbly stands at the door, knocking at it and waiting for us to open and invite Him to enter…In an age of unprecedented pride and ambition, and with the shortage of experienced spiritual mentors, we are saved mainly by humble patience in troubles and sorrows, by sincere thanksgiving to God for everything, being burdened with infirmities, crosses and illnesses.” (Priest Tarasiy Borozenets, Sergey Krapivin)

“Acquiring the spiritual health to serve Him is no small matter and will not happened instantaneously. It has nothing to do with glorifying ourselves or achieving any earthly goal. It does, however, have everything to do with the persistent, humble obedience shown by St. Mary of Egypt. Like her, let us refuse to let anything keep us from confronting our personal brokenness with brutal honesty as we take up our own crosses in faithfulness to the Savior Who offered up Himself on the Cross for the salvation of the world. He alone is our hope and the Victor over death.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Humility and obedience go hand in hand. Without one, the other is nearly impossible…I believe that both humility and obedient intent is single minded and purposeful in that these two virtues were intended to get us all to the same place, and that is, in Christ, in the Father, our safe place from sin, self, and the world…humility and obedience play an most important role in each of our lives and certainly are the primary stepping stones, along a spiritual path, that we must go down if we are to realize some level of spiritual maturity.” (Jennifer Waddle, Mike Weatherford)

“…spiritual maturity and power is available to all of us…we just have to live our lives in Christ to its fullness and then truly and actually engage, develop communion with others, so they can see Christ in us. But that requires considerable spiritual maturity. The maturity of which I speak is, of course, not a function of a certain number of classes, or a certain amount of time spent in Church, but rather of a willingness on the part of the believer to allow Christ to so fully live in his or her life such that he radiates out as light into the darkness (Phil 2.15). There is no need to think in absolute terms here, since each one of us is always (supposed to be) learning, growing, gradually moving toward Christ-likeness. Even after 45 years of active Church work, I am sorely aware of my own spiritual immaturity and deficiencies.” (Fr. Edward Rommen)

“…Christ says that in order to save your soul, first you must lose it (Mk. 8:35). This has a double interpretation. One is that in order to receive something, you have to sacrifice something. One of the main axioms that a mature man knows in his life is that you can’t have everything—only an immature man believes he can have it all. The main sign of a mature man is the understanding that he can’t have everything, but he tries to live well with what he has. This is the secret of a blessed life. Unhappiness begins when I get offended and protest about what I don’t have, and don’t praise God for what I do have. Our famous poet Elytis says, “I love those who take a rock and make a bird out of it.” There are so many people who have gone through hard times, through difficult periods in their lives, and possessing very few things, they have turned them into something very valuable in their hearts.” (Fr. Charalampos Papadopoulos)

“But what is spiritual maturity? The Greek word for “maturity” refers to the end of a process…When this growth reaches that final point, the development is complete. It is like a full-grown tree. In 2 Peter, the apostle writes about such a process of growth. He advises, “…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). In this way, we develop excellence (arete) and perfection (teleios). As we develop toward these goals, the apostle assures us that we will “be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).” (Fr. Basil)

“People are erratic. They can ascend to union with God, ‘a little lower than the angels’; and they can also descend into total depravity, becoming like the demons and worse than animals. Given that we’ve been endowed with free will, we’re called upon to put into effect the ‘likeness of God’, to become god-like, to be united with God. In this process, that is spiritual maturation, we have to evaluate the priorities in our life and make our way forward on the basis of our choices. We’re free to determine the direction of our life and God respects our freedom.” (Archimandrite Dorotheos Tzevelakos)

“Just as surely as there is a time of sowing, there is a time of reaping. God changes us and touches the hearts of others through our prayers, our giving and our service to others. Seeds become trees and trees change the environment. Sowing is hard. Trees grow slowly, almost imperceptibly. It requires faith and often tears. I sometimes think my spiritual life is a bit like the experience of a trapeze artist. Swinging blindfolded on her trapeze, she must let go and trust that her partner will be there to catch her. God is good at catching, but that’s not what worries me so much. I’m not very good at letting go. It’s always scary, but gets less so with practice.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“What is changing when we speak of spiritual transformation?” Our modern tendency is to think in terms of self-development. It’s a very popular idea, no doubt fueled by the fact that self-development can be monetized. It seems to me that very little in our culture receives much attention if it cannot be marketed and sold. The self-help section in any bookstore seems to dwarf many others.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“As each of us matures spiritually, we realize that we’re not the center of the universe, that the whole of humanity is a single unit and that, therefore, each of us is responsible for other people and that the ‘true goal’ is God, the source of all goodness…as we mature spiritually, our basic, introductory questions diminish. We become disciples whose primary need is to “take light from the Light that is never overtaken by night,” light that the Holy Spirit gives us in greater and greater measure.” (Archimandrite Dorotheos Tzevelakos, Dynamis 6/1/2023)

“In child development, there is something called Object Permanency. It is the child’s ability to grasp that even though they cannot see an object (such as a parent), they still exist. Until this ability is mastered, if the child cannot see their parent, then they don’t exist and the child goes into distress. However, this milestone is achieved as they grow and they become secure in the fact that even though they cannot see a parent, they still exist and are there for them. In many ways this applies to us and our relationship with God. Many struggle with this spiritually. We may have not matured enough spiritually to realize that even though we cannot physically see God that He nonetheless exists. Indeed, as this world becomes more distorted, we very much need to make sure we have mastered this ability.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“…often emotional pain arises, or is made worse, through our own sin or spiritually disordered feelings. For example, injured pride can lead to depression; lust can lead to anguish; failure to trust in God can lead to anxiety; self-pity can lead to sorrow; egotism can lead to despair; irascible habits can lead to anger; wrong thinking can lead to despondency; self-reliance can lead to hopelessness, and on and on. Thus, depending on its antecedents, emotional pain can be either a vice to be avoided or, like every crisis, an opportunity for spiritual growth.” (Robin Phillips)

“…one of the fundamental traps of the spiritual journey: identification with our thoughts and feelings. If we think we are our thoughts and feelings, we go through life simply reacting to what is going on around us, with little awareness that we are even doing this or that life could be otherwise.” (Martin Laird)

“What they [we] really hunger for is deep spiritual transformation, but what is available to them [us]is often reduced to a mere emotional response to Christ, which can be rather shallow and unfulfilling, or a pumped-up gospel of positive thinking and prosperity, which does not reflect the reality of daily life or the truth of our human condition.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)

“Do we ever reach the completion of the process of maturing spiritually? Paul writes, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). In the same vein, St. Maximos writes, that things in the natural world stop growing when they have reached maturity. But he teaches, “when what has been brought about by the knowledge of God through the practice of virtues has reached maturity, it starts to grow anew. For the end of one stage constitutes the starting point of the next”…After we dig out the roots of corruption within ourselves by the practice of virtue, the Almighty grants us “other more divine experiences”…Therefore, our maturation never comes to an end, neither barren nor unfruitful.” (Fr. Basil)

“Our society values self-reliance. We teach that maturity means that we no longer depend on others for direction or support. When we are fully grown, we should take our own path in life. However, our reading of Proverbs 3:1-18 teaches us the opposite. The wise teacher of Proverbs says, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight (OAB vs. 5).” (Fr. Basil)

“Spiritual “maturity” is something quite different from biological or psychological maturity. We may experience heaven on earth. Perfection and beatitude are not the result of living a full natural life…Rather, human freedom is at play. Who we are and what we may become do not depend solely on natural processes. Even human freedom does not entirely explain human perfection—for divine will and grace surpass and may even bypass nature and history…the translation of the Christian language of perfection into the language of development is a great misfortune. It robs perfection of its religious and transcendent significance. Christian perfection is sanctification..: a self-directed, self-enacted movement toward divine similitude. Holiness, not just rationality or moral conscience, is the earmark of human maturity and perfection. (Vigen Guroian)

“ In Matthew 5:48, Christ bids His disciples to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. The word here rendered “perfect” is teleios, which means not so much “sinless” as “mature, having reached one’s telos or goal”. That is, Christ bids us grow up to be like our heavenly Father in every way. When Luke shares this counsel in his Gospel, he translates Christ as saying, “Be compassionate [Greek oiktirmos], even as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). The perfection and maturity for which we must strive can summarily described as consisting of mercy. Mercy and compassion lay at the heart of the Christian life, and without mercy, no one can call Himself a Christian.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)

“…spiritual maturity and power is available to all of us…we just have to live our lives in Christ to its fullness and then truly and actually engage, develop communion with others, so they can see Christ in us. But that requires considerable spiritual maturity. The maturity of which I speak is, of course, not a function of a certain number of classes, or a certain amount of time spent in Church, but rather of a willingness on the part of the believer to allow Christ to so fully live in his or her life such that he radiates out as light into the darkness (Phil 2.15). There is no need to think in absolute terms here, since each one of us is always (supposed to be) learning, growing, gradually moving toward Christ-likeness. Even after 45 years of active Church work, I am sorely aware of my own spiritual immaturity and deficiencies.” (Fr. Edward Rommen)

“Maturity is about a choice—a commitment. And there are no shortcuts to maturity. The only way to get there is through the intentional process of discipleship. It requires a day-by-day effort to become more like Christ in everything we do....As Christians, our maturity depends on whether we choose to resemble Christ or the rest of the world.” (Kasey Van Norman)

“…real life means to be in communion with God, to resemble Him, to imitate Him, and to participate in His life. Those who are truly human will manifest the activities, or energies, of God in their lives. This is our end—to become mature in our humanity so we reflect the image of the One in whom we have been created. Spiritual growth is a natural desire for every human being.” (Kevin Scherer) "

Both psychological and spiritual growth occur best in the atmosphere of a loving community, where warm human relationships with one’s peers and those in authority manifest a certain fullness of life.” (Bishop John of Amorion)

“There is no instant formula for spirituality. Spirituality consists in living out the journey of Christ through Faith. We must be able to identify personally with Christ.” (Bishop John of Amorion)

“St. John Chrysostom says commenting on the scripture in 1 Cor. 12:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face” that the increase of our vision means an increase in our understanding and perception. In one of his homilies he explains, “not as though God has a face, but in order to express greater manifestation and clarity. Do you see how we learn all things by gradual advance?” (Sacramental Living Ministries, St. John Chrysostom)

“As we grow in the Lord, our vision gradually conforms to the Lord’s mind, until we find ourselves thinking with Him. We develop what Father George Florovsky calls a “scriptural mind” – one which is wholly attuned to God.” (OCPM 5/13/2017)

“When we actively seek to expand His life in ours, His character gradually becomes ours.’ (Bruce Wilkinson)

“Godly habits will gradually grow on you, and finally you will do of your own accord what was at first a matter of compulsion.” (St. Jerome)"

When I experience setbacks on my daily and hourly journey to God, like my own laziness and procrastination, I tend to lose sight of the positive fact that I am “being built,” little by little, together with other cross-carriers, “for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” The process of “being built” includes setbacks and difficulties, –otherwise there would be no need for further “building.” And I am reminded today that I’m not alone in this process, which occurs daily in me and others through spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Our life on earth then has great meaning and significance: to develop and to grow little by little into the image and likeness of God. In other words, it simply means we are to become as fully human as possible.” (Father Stanley Harakas)

“Real change doesn’t hinge on a four-part plan or five easy steps. More often it’s a daily decision followed by a continual process in which I allow God to restore and remake my life one day at a time.” (Ryan Shook & Josh Shook)

“Do you envy people who are able to find something positive in every negative experience? Actually, this isn’t just some natural ability. It’s learned. We can teach ourselves to take life’s setbacks, turn them right side up, and recognize their value.” (Mort Crim)

“We never arrive as being “finished products” as human beings. We have a lot yet to learn, daily.” (Edith Schaeffer)

“Growth in godly character is not only progressive and always unfinished, it is absolutely necessary for spiritual survival. If we are not growing in godly character, we are regressing; in the spiritual life we never stand still." (Jerry Bridges)

“True spiritual growth occurs over a period of time...There is, over time, a growth and formation in the knowledge of God.” (Foundation Study Bible, 2 Timothy 4:2, Father Stephen Freeman) “Do not be content with a static Christian life. Determine rather to grow in faith and love, in knowledge and holiness." (John Stott)

“We invest our energy in keeping life the way it is. We resist growth. We become reactors rather than making things happen. We stay in the holes of our discouragement. When we don’t risk stepping out, we risk missing the life-abundant changes God has in store for us." (H. Norman Wright)

“Problems are the very means by which God changes us, transforms us, and drives us forward. Without problems, there would be no growth." (Tim Hansel)

“Spiritual growth is neither spontaneous nor automatic. Spiritual growth requires the exercise of personal freedom through intellectual, moral and spiritual decisions, commitments and actions. But spiritual growth, too, surely needs a proper environment and constant nourishment to flourish.” (Father Theodore Stylianopoulos)

“Without loving structure, our spiritual growth will stall, and we will never become the person God created us to be." (Rev. Christopher H. Martin)

“The Kingdom of Heaven [and our own spiritual growth] is taken by force, but gradually, not all at once. This occurs through constant vigilance, self-denial, patience, guarding of the senses, repentance, self-reproach and above all quietude, silence and prayer.” (Elder Michael II of Valaam)

“Our salvation…begins at baptism…(From that moment we begin a process of slow spiritual growth)…and continues throughout life. It is a process of unending spiritual growth.” (Father Anthony Coniaris

“[Spiritual growth] is the work of a lifetime and often involves some great hardship and struggle… all of us must struggle hard to get past our own lazy inclinations and seek God with all of our effort because, due to the sinful inclinations within us, it does not, at first, come naturally… spiritual growth and an eventual sense of conviction come through persistence and struggle.” (Sacramental Living)

“...spiritual maturity is one of the chief goals of the Christian’s spiritual journey.” (Richard A. Grumberg)

“Contrary to what happens to our natural age-growth, there is no clearly definable age of maturity in knowing Christ. We are maturing, and yet we are still growing…Our growth is a transformation from glory to glory as we behold the image of Christ, as we deepen our perception of Him; therefore, there is no end, no definitive stage. Maturity is reached with every step, yet growth continues. We enjoy the fruits of maturity in knowing Christ, and at the same time we see the unlimited possibilities of growing more and more, of transformation and transposition into higher, increasingly enriching, sophisticated, and refined realms of experience.” (Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis)

“Maturity in Christ is about consistent pursuit in spite of the attacks and setbacks. Maturity in Christ is not about finally attaining some level of pseudo-perfection. It is about remaining in the arms of God. Abiding and staying, even in my weakness, even in my failure.” (Angela Thomas)

"Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received. We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn. The instruction for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned. We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth.” (Life Application Study Bible, Philippians 3:16)"…becoming like Christ is a lifelong process...our salvation in Christ includes a lifelong process of maturing.” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 7:15, Orthodox Study Bible, 2 Peter 3:15)

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