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Grace and Struggle

“Our task is to struggle, to cast sin aside, and to strive for the holiness that God is creating in us by means of His grace and mercy…The results of this prayer do not come about by magic, but by means of ascetic struggle aided by the grace of God. God’s grace guides our actions from the inside out, so that we may behave and live as children of the Light.” (Dynamis 4/11/2018, 4/14/2021)

“I have met Christians who have been suspicious of human struggle because they suppose it leaves God’s grace out of the picture. However, Scripture makes clear that even the ability to struggle comes from God’s grace.” (Robin Phillips)

“In the struggle to attain virtue and God’s grace, we often meet with an obstacle in the form of a lack of strength. We may fail to love others, to have sufficient faith in Christ, or to give generously. First and foremost, we need to cooperate with God so our efforts succeed (2 Corinthians 8:8). When we cooperate with Him, we discover the true roots of faith, genuine love, and liberal giving. It is the grace of God, not our own capacities, that helps us to manifest a life pleasing to the Lord, for He works through our words and deeds so long as we trust in Him… And often grace follows our efforts to be faithful…” (Dynamis 9/13/2021)

“Life as we know it is a varying experience of both good and evil, pleasure and pain, joy and sadness. Even in our relationship with God, we experience mountain tops and valleys, or what some of the Fathers refer to as the abundance of Grace and the withdrawal of Grace. Of course, in a very important sense, abundance and withdrawal of Grace refer our experience. Our experience of abundance and withdrawal of Grace does not mean that God is any less present in our lives. God is present in the abundance of Grace and in the withdrawal. Nonetheless, the mountain tops and valleys of our spiritual life are often quite troubling. Each new valley brings us again to our knees as we wonder if we have made any progress whatsoever in our spiritual life, if we have taken even one step nearer to God.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“The goal of spiritual struggle is not the acquisition of virtues, or of any other strange abilities solemnly through human powers, as it is believed by those who belong to various humanistic circles. On the contrary, it is the expression of our desire to meet the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom everything is recapitulated, and through whom everything is derived. The Word of God, the Logos, preaches most clearly that without Him we cannot do anything, and…that unless the Lord constructs the house of virtues of the soul, we struggle in vain. Therefore, we Christians devote ourselves to the love of Christ, and we give up voluntarily many other kinds of love and devotion that are of secondary importance so that we will become worthy of His presence in the house of our souls. When this is achieved, with the grace and blessing of God, then peace, joy, and perfect love will have settled permanently in our very existence.” (Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew)


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