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Self-Reliance

“This unique reality that constitutes our true self, is, in its most foundational aspect, a gift. We never “create ourselves”…We are not the makers of our own reality. There is such a wonderful liberation in this when we begin to truly understand it. We do not bring ourselves into existence, nor do we form and create our world. Our present reality is not the result of some chain of decisions and consequences. Such naive reductionism (often posited by many religious people) simply fails to adequately describe even the smallest portion of our reality and that which is rightly termed, “the self.” The modern narrative of the self views human beings as absurdly responsible for their lives. That small fraction of our lives that is affected by our decisions is credited with the creation of the whole. It is a distortion that is useful only in coercing our agreement with and cooperation in the injustice of the present world order.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“The fall arises out of man’s free decision to reject personal communion with God and restrict himself to the autonomy and self-sufficiency of his own nature.” (Christos Yannaras)


“We live under the illusion that if we can acquire complete control, we can understand God. But the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord or hope to be part of the creative process, is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control…when we try to control our lives totally with the self we think we know, the result is that growth in self-awareness is inhibited.” (Madeleine L'Engle)


“The human being as part of the creation is not self-sufficient and autonomous for it owes its origins and existence to that Being whom we commonly call God. The human quests for identity and understanding of its place in the world, for creative self-realization in history are realized in truths extant in and revealed by the Creator. And the Creator is both an inner presence and a cosmic reality…” (Demetrios J. Constantelos)


“Men and women are not only separated from God, but they are also separated from their own true self, since their true self exists and can be realized only when they are united with God…By becoming a child of God, we become more of a real person, no longer an autonomous individual. We become who we really are and were meant to be.” (Father Stanley Harakas, Father David L. Fontes, PsyD)


“Do everything with humility and fear of God according to God’s will and to His glory. He who does something out of self-reliance, with boldness and audacity, out of self-gratification or man-pleasing, no matter how righteous the act, only fosters within himself an evil spirit of self-righteousness, arrogance and Pharisaism.” (Saint Theophan the Recluse)

“…the enviable level of material well-being and the technological advances of our great land are, in some respects, a spiritual liability in that they blind us to our utter weakness...Both the prosperity and the technology we enjoy are indeed great blessings in our lives, but they nonetheless give us a sense of empowerment and drive us to triumphant feeling of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and independence-a sense that we are somehow both strong and invulnerable. And this illusion of strength, for indeed it is an illusion and only that, stands as a hindrance to the proper relationship with God that each of us as Christians should actively be seeking in our lives.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)

“The very first words spoken by our Lord at the beginning of His ministry were, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17). Those to whom he spoke knew what He meant. He was demanding a total conversion of the inner self, which includes: (a) recognizing that one’s way of life is contrary to God’s plan for man: (b) giving up all self-reliance and surrendering unconditionally to our Creator: (c) converting one’s whole being to the Will of God. For many modern people, that demand of Christ is incomprehensible. To understand Him, one has to know what God Is; that there is a Power and a Being beyond existence as we know it, and yet within it. More than that, one has to have the capacity to give oneself over totally, selflessly and irrevocably to God.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)

“ Self-reliance has its place, but also its limits. Deep problems that we cannot overcome by our own abilities show us that we are not as powerful as we had imagined… Spiritual disciplines are not exercises in self-reliance, as though we earn something from God by being diligent in performing them. Instead, they are simply ways of helping us share more fully in the life of Christ as we grow in recognizing our sinfulness and opening ourselves to receive His healing mercy… The healing of our souls is found by sharing in the life of Christ. We will be able to unite ourselves to Him in holiness only when we know the weakness of our faith as we turn away from self-reliance and receive His mercy from the depths of our souls.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“…God’s grace does not cancel out free will…[but] Self-reliant hearts are fully ready to abandon the grace of God…What keeps grace in the soul more than anything else? Humility. What makes it withdraw more than anything else? Feelings of pride, a high opinion of oneself, self-reliance." (Dynamis 7/20/2014, Orthodox Study Bible, Deuteronomy 7:1-3, St. Theophan the Recluse)


#SaintTheophantheRecluse #FatherAndrewDemotses #FrVladimirBerzonsky #Dynamis #OrthodoxStudyBible #FrPhilipLeMasters #FatherStephenFreeman #ChristosYannaras #MadeleineLEngle #DemetriosJConstantelos #FatherDavidLFontesPsyD

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