Purification of the Heart

Teachings of Elder Paisios

- You must look after the purification of your soul on a daily basis. Do your spiritual work and say the Jesus Prayer. Your thoughts, will and desires are where your mind is. The submission of our spirit is the most important thing. In order to acquire a virtue, we must be humble and careful, so we can detect its opposite evil, and then pray to Christ to help us get rid of it. We don’t need to try too hard or be concerned how, when and in what way our heart will be able to acquire this virtue.

- A man once asked the Elder: "Father, when we read the writings of the Fathers of the Church, we notice the following phenomenon: some saints say that praying is of utmost importance and others talk about obedience or voluntary poverty. It is hard for someone to understand exactly what Christ is asking from us. When we think we must apply all these virtues at the same time, then we despair, as it is impossible to struggle for all of them at once. Our endeavor becomes a lot easier, when we realise that the acquisition of these virtues is the result of a single struggle. Could you please help me understand what exactly I should do in order to find the way leading to Christ?"

Elder Paisios responded: "Purification, divine justice, humility, love, obedience, voluntary poverty, and all virtues are one and the same. Christ wants us to eliminate our will to zero. If you obtain a single one of these virtues, bear in mind, that the rest are found in the one you just acquired; the same thing applies to our passions; one passion includes all others. Purification requires the soul to be pure and clean from our own will; divine justice is the abandonment of our own will to the will of God; humility is to humble our will and elevate God’s will; obedience means not to have a will and thus obey other people; prayer means to take our mind off our wishes and desires and concentrate on God. So, you see whichever virtue you apply, you are led to the same result, that is, to the elimination and purification of your own will. Man will spiritually progress and be benefited only when he manages to eliminate his will to zero. When the Americans want to send a missile to space, they do the same thing; they count from ten to zero. When they reach zero, then the missile is fired. The same applies to our soul; when our wills are eliminated to zero and our soul is cleansed, then it is elevated towards God!"

- The grace of God entered our soul through Holy Baptism; it is a gift granted to all of us. Sometimes, we think that God gave to a saint more gifts than others; this is wrong. Christ loves all of His children the same; it is we, however, who do not value and appreciate God’s gift to the same degree. When someone is grateful and believes that the grace of Christ, which he received through Holy Baptism, is inside his soul, he humbles his own will and purifies himself in order to allow divine grace to function. When divine grace functions inside a soul, it makes us think that God favored this person with more gifts. However, the truth is that this person loves Christ more, and through his humility, permits God to act on his behalf.

- We are in no way inferior to the Apostles. The Apostles were physically close to Christ, who helped them; however, we, too, have Him inside our soul since a very young age, through the grace of Holy Baptism. We should unload our soul from our passions and let divine grace dwell inside us. The more we purify ourselves, the more we allow for divine grace to function. When a soul is completely clean from its will and is totally humbled, then it can experience the grace of Christ and the fulfillment of all His promises.

- Since the term 'purification of the soul' was in a way unknown to me, I frequently asked the Elder to analyse it in detail. He suggested reading some sections of the Holy Bible, which would make it possible for me to turn inwards and face the ugliness of my soul, and thus gradually begin its purification.

Following are some of these texts:

2 Cor 6:16-18, 7:1 - "For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore touching nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."

2 Tim 2:20-21 - “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble. If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work."

2 Cor 7:1 - “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.”

2 Cor 10:3-5 - “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Phil 2:5-9 - “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”

Mt 5:8 - “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Mt 23:26 - “You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Lk 11:39 - "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness.”