Somersaults for God

When bodily exertion – prostrations, vigils and sacrifices – takes place with love, with passionate eros, the body is not harmed. When this effort is made freely and with love towards the loved one, towards Christ, you show how much you love Him. No one takes account of exertion and fatigue for the person he loves. For example, a monk climbs up a mountain, he struggles and sweats and tires himself out. ‘Why did you do it?’ people ask him. ‘For the person I love,’ he replies. ‘Because I knew that I would make him happy.’ The person with faith displays his love, his devotion and his adoration of Christ in tangible ways. That’s why bodily exertion is made. That’s why we make prostrations. Not to gain anything, but because your love for Christ doesn’t allow you to do otherwise.
Perhaps someone will say, ‘I have love in my heart.’ That’s all very well, but prostrations and all the other exercises are still required, because, although they are external forms, through those formal actions we are able to penetrate to the substance. It we don’t penetrate to the heart of the matter, all is a waste of time. Should I turn somersaults now for God to see and be pleased? God takes no delight in these things. Nor do we add anything to Christ with the worship which we offer Him. It is we who receive the fruits of our efforts; we have need of those things. …when prostrations are made for Christ, grace works directly on the soul and brings penitence, serenity, peace and joy.
Elder Porphyrios


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