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Perception

“As Aaron Beck once said, “all emotion is preceded by perception”. This is quote is quite consistent with the ascetical teachings of the church. We would do well to study that simple quote and begin to apply it to our lives. How exactly have we been perceiving all of these events, what meanings have we been assigning to them?  What have we felt as a result of these meanings assigned or perceptions?” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)


“Early in my career as a high school guidance counselor, I had a supervisor who occasionally confided in me. He was stout and had a red face. One day he called me into his office to say he had gone to see his cardiologist, who told him that because he had a history of early heart attacks in his family and his blood pressure was quite high, he must stop drinking alcohol. My supervisor was visibly upset. I asked, “What are you going to do?” He looked at me as if I had asked a totally stupid question. He said, “Of course, I am going to get a different doctor.” Don’t we all have a tendency to deny some parts of reality, as suits our perceptions? Don’t we all find reality too much of a burden to endure, and resort to one or another mental dodge or defensive mechanism?” (Albert S. Rossi, PhD)


“Perspective and enthusiasm go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. Perspective loosens up our perceptions so as to allow the important issues to take precedence in a world frequently caught up in false agendas. These false agendas blur the line between what is essential (i.e., relationships, peace, love) and what isn’t (i.e., inordinate power, concern with one’s image, competition, accomplishments).” (Robert J. Wicks)


“Noetic perception” is a phrase that describes the ability of the human heart to perceive that which is Divine. As such, it is our capacity for communion with God and the whole of creation. Primarily, what we noetically perceive of creation is its “logicity,” its reflection of the Logos. Without such a perception, we do not see the truth of things. By the same token, without such a perception, we cannot know the truth of our own selves. Of course, goodness and truth are as endangered in the secular world as beauty. A world that cannot see goodness and truth is a world in which distortions and even lies are raised to a place of prominence. In a secular world, money and violence become the primary energies of governance and change.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Wisdom is twofold. It is Christ Himself, and secondly, it is His words or teachings. His children who incline their ear to Him and His teachings will guard good thinking, which is called perception. Perception is the crown of the virtues.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 5:1-6)


“…thankfulness helps deliver us from many of the snares that would stop our progress to the fear of God or the fear of judgement…from the human perspective, all of this preparation through the embrace of self discipline leading to the fear of God leading to a longing for God gets us ready to perceive God. But on the other hand, from the divine perspective, nothing a human being can do forces God’s hand or makes God reveal Himself. When the time is right, when everything is ready, then God comes to us. God comes to us very seldom as a rushing wind or a bright light, but God comes to us most often as a gentle breeze, as an apprehension of some profound beauty resonating deeply in our psyche, in our souls. God comes to us and if we are ready, we perceive Him in some small way, in a way that we can never forget or deny, but almost always in a way that we cannot explain or defend.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)


“So, in every direction and every way, we encounter God’s Divine Energies, His working things together on behalf of all and for all. There is a path towards “seeing” these actions (energies): the practice of continual thanksgiving for all things. It is the giving of thanks that reveals to the heart the hidden work of God. It is a practice that silences the passions and, as an expression of our human energies, unites us with the very Providence for which we give thanks.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…the more we become like little children, seeing with the eyes of humility, the more we will get a fleeting glimpse of Eden, of who we truly are, or, at least, who we are truly meant to be, as creatures made in the image of God.” (Joseph Pearce)


“Jesus replies to Nathanael, “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48). This statement linking “seeing” with “knowing” is an example of what the Church Fathers call diorasis, the ability to see into obscure circumstances, to know facts or events inaccessible to others…This kind of “knowledge” comes from the Holy Spirit and is limited to those deemed worthy of such “sight,” who have purified their hearts through deep ascesis (spiritual exercise).” (Dynamis 3/8/2020)


“The other day a friend was lamenting the difficulty he found in discovering God’s presence in the midst of his daily routine…I didn’t have much to say, because I find myself in that state sometimes, too. What strikes me, though, is that the state itself is most appropriately characterized as blindness. I don’t any longer see what I know to be true…I can read about it in Scripture, even celebrate it in a church service. But if I’m not able to behold it, to perceive its reality and truth with the eyes of the heart, then it might just as well not exist…we need to look beyond what is immediately present and see reality in its depths. Then we can enter into it and make it our own. It’s the difference between looking into a fish tank and swimming amid coral reefs, between mowing the lawn and picking wildflowers, between passing a school playground and holding a young child in your lap. We can look at good and beautiful things, or we can truly see them. And when we do see them, then we see beyond them, into a deeper reality.” (Fr. John Breck)


“Verse 12 [Mark 4:12] states that we “may see and not perceive.” There is such a thing as seeing yet missing the point. We encounter both good and useless eyewitnesses in court, because some people see an event but do not really understand it. Seeing does not necessarily lead to a full, thorough-going perception of what is truly present and conveyed. “Hear the word, [and] accept it” (vs. 20) can be compared with verse 12. The Lord Jesus uses seeing and hearing as two different ways to speak about perceiving (vs. 12) and knowing (vs. 11). The Lord’s point is that it is not enough to receive – we also have to accept what we hear, “buy into it,” and embrace it…Amazingly, when we apply what we hear, we not only accept it, but also, we see and hear it much more fully.” (Dynamis 9/7/2020)


“Our proper task is not to shape and control, but to reveal. That requires that we must first and foremost be silent until the word given to us in that silence is truly heard, perceived and incarnate within us. In truth, if you do not live what you say then you do not know what you say.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“…do you consider yourself spiritually learned? From your deeds you can perceive the actuality of this character trait; for, exactly as the body is dead without the breath, so any knowledge, without accompanying spiritual works, is dead and of no benefit. So if it is wrong for a Christian not to know Scripture, it is doubly wrong when he knows Scripture, but nevertheless disdains it by not applying its teachings to his life.” (V. Rev. Chrysostomos)


“So much of true perception and understanding comes from the action of applying what we believe and actually living it. For example, Christ tells us to love our neighbor. We don’t perceive or understand what this truly means in full until we actually do it. This is why a deeper and truer understanding of everything Christ teaches comes from putting His words into practice consistently and as a complete way of life (Matthew 7:24).” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“Jesus urged His disciples to open their eyes to the world around them and behold the hand of God. In the seasons of the year, in the gathering of storms, in the birds of the air and flowers of the field, signs are offered that reveal God’s presence and purpose…Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things… as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.” (Very Rev. John Breck, Teilhard de Chardin)


“…faith has two elements involving the whole person: an inner choice to obey and a tangible follow-through…To grasp the essence of faith, it is necessary to look within and realize that choice comes before we put our hands to action. An action is of faith when it arises freely from what we will – when it is done by choice. In faith, the will is preface to action.” (Dynamis 7/18/2019) “He who is united to God by faith and recognizes Him by action is indeed enabled to see Him in contemplation…the perception of Christ as God is called illumination. Seeing is therefore essential.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, Dynamis 5/7/2020) “Just as Christ does “not judge by reputation nor convict by common talk,” [Isaiah 11:3] but sees with godly acuity, so also through the Spirit others are able to see with an insight that defies our expectations of normal human perception.” (Dynamis 12/27/2019) “Human beings have an ability to perceive truth, goodness, and beauty, and, arguably, are drawn to them, sometimes at the expense of all else. The notion of such things existing as abstractions is, itself, an abstraction and an invention of modern philosophies. It is part of an alienation of the human being from all that is obvious, including what it is to be human. The unique claim of Christianity is that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty became flesh and dwelt among us as the God/Man, Jesus Christ. We say that if you come to know these things in the world around you, and reflected within yourself, you will recognize them as well in Him.” (Father Stephen Freeman) “The spirit of Christianity is a spirit of contemplation. It teaches us to look at what is invisible to the senses (see 2 Corinthians 4:18) and promises us that those who are pure in heart, who live in holiness, will see God face to face.” (Ivan Ilyin)

“…here is a distinction here between God’s active will and His permissive will. God does not blind us with the active intent of preventing our right perception…However, He does permit us to resist Him – to say no to His will. In such a case, we blind ourselves.” (OCPM 5/24/2017)

“The greatest consequence of blindness toward God is a profound confusion about our own identity. This confusion ripples out, impacting every relationship we have and guaranteeing that we’ll not be at peace.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“So long as self-deception lies at the source of a person’s perception of things, he or she cannot mature into the fullness of being human or lead a successful course through life.” (Vigen Guroian)

“Our perception of God is like being in a dark room with a tiny bit of light coming through a window. At first, we only see a little part of the room. But as the light grows stronger, we see more and more of the room and everything in it. As we grow more and more spiritually, we perceive more and more of God’s presence surrounding us. “(Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The soul is created for the awareness of God and its attention is properly directed towards Him, not towards itself. We become more clearly aware of the nous (the soul’s faculty of perception) when we enter into true prayer, when we are aware of God. Self-awareness in the nous is found in repentance, when we “return to ourselves.” True repentance is not a matter of feeling bad over something we have done, a sorrow that may simply be confined to our emotions. It is instead a profound awareness that apart from God we are nothing.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Our culture thinks in terms of “thinking” (ratio). However, Christian faith is not a subset or a mode of discursive reason. It is, however, a mode of perception, just as is seeing, smelling, hearing, or touch. Faith is the mode of the heart’s perception, and since everyone, even a modern person, actually has a heart, everyone is capable of faith. It is, however, something that takes practice and patience.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“God is unknowable without His divine revelation, and only the nous [heart] can perceive this knowledge. Science has its place, but only the heart can know God.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Again, he who does not limit his perception of the nature of visible things to what his senses alone can observe, but wisely with his intellect [heart] searches after the essence which lies within every creature, also finds God; for from the manifest magnificence of created beings he learns who is the Cause of their being.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)

“When we contrast the eyesight of men with God’s vision, we see that our perception is imperfect. Without His illumination, human vision remains undiscerning.” (OCPM 7/27/2016)


“...the experience or perception of God and His uncreated beauty can take place on many different levels and to varying degrees.” (Archimandrite Sergius)

“In the famous movie, Silence of the Lambs, the evil Hannibal Lecter chided the young FBI agent Clarice Starling telling her, ‘you look but you do not see.’ Despite being evil, he spoke truth. She was staring at a file that revealed the truth about the killer yet did not perceive it. Our challenge in Christianity is often the same because we look but don’t see, using our physical sense of sight and gift of rationale to try to divine understanding, but not our hearts. Christ told the Pharisees as much when He told them they searched the Scriptures for eternal life but missed that they revealed Christ (John 5:39) who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“Seeing with your eyes doesn’t guarantee seeing with your heart…As part of our inner renewal in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) we gain the gift of seeing the unseen…” (Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 20:30, Orthodox Study Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:18)

“Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is not a statement that declares that good people will go to heaven. It is a statement about the nature of spiritual sight and spiritual knowledge: it is directly related to the heart. Plenty of people had an objective experience of Christ. His miracles occurred in the presence of crowds. But Christ did not come to give this form of knowledge. Judas saw all of the miracles, and, doubtless, performed his share along with the rest of the Apostles.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

"...the things of God are not known by the rational mind alone, but rather they are experienced in the heart of man." (Archimandrite Sergius)

“For God is united with all men according to the underlying quality of their inner state; and, at the creation of each person, He provides each person with the capacity to perceive and sense Him when He is united in one way or another with all men at the end of the ages.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)


#ArchimandriteSergius #StMaximostheConfessor #FatherStephenFreeman #AbbotTryphon #OCPM #FatherBarnabasPowelll #VigenGuroian #SacramentalLiving #Dynamis #StSymeontheNewTheologian #IvanIlyin #VRevChrysostomos #SacramentalLivingMinistries #VeryRevJohnBreck #TeilharddeChardin #FrMichaelGillis #JosephPearce #Dynamis #FrJohnBreck #FrJoshuaMakoul #AlbertSRossiPhD #RobertJWicks #OrthodoxStudyBible

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