…light is beautiful apart from all divisions, apart from form. It is beautiful in itself, and it makes all that is visible beautiful. ‘There is no object so repulsive that intense light would not make beautiful,’ says one almost contemporary writer. [Emerson] … Beauty, as a certain manifestation or disclosure of that which becomes objective, is essentially connected with light, for everything that is manifested is precisely light. Or, as the Apostle witnesses, ‘all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light’ (Eph. 5:13). And through this, all things dissolve in the light that makes them manifest and are themselves transformed into light: ‘Whatsoever doth make manifest is light’ (Eph. 5:13). Thus, if beauty is precisely manifestation and manifestation is precisely light, then, I repeat, beauty is light and light is beauty. Absolute light is the absolutely beautiful. It is Love itself in its perfection, and this Love makes every person spiritually beautiful. Crowning the love of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is both the object and the organ of perception of the beautiful. That is why the holy fathers called asceticism, as the activity directed at the contemplation of the ineffable light by means of the Holy Spirit, not a science and not even a moral work, but an art, and not just an art, but art par excellence, the ‘art of arts.’ Theoretical knowledge, philosophy, is love of wisdom, whereas the contemplative knowledge given by asceticism is philokalia, love of beauty. Collections of ascetic writings, long known as ‘philokalias,’ are in no wise a ‘philo-kalia’ (Russ. Доброто-любие) in the modern sense of the word, i.e., in the sense of the love of the good. Καλια (Russ. доброта) is taken here in the ancient, general sense that signifies not moral perfection but beauty, and φιλοκαλια signifies love of beauty. In fact, asceticism produces not a ‘good’ or ‘kind’ man but a beautiful one, and the distinguishing feature of the saintly ascetics is not their ‘kindness,’ which even people of the flesh, and very sinful ones, can possess, but spiritual beauty, the blinding beauty of a radiant, light-bearing person, a beauty wholly inaccessible to the man of flesh. ‘There is nothing more beautiful than Christ, the only sinless one.’ [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians]
It is necessary to live a common life, it is necessary to illuminate and suffuse everyday life with closeness, even outward, bodily closeness. Christians will then acquire new, unheard-of powers. They will overcome Satan, cleansing and removing all of his impure powers. That is why St. Ignatius writes to St. Polycarp, the bishop of the Church of Smyrna and thus of the whole Church: ‘Labor together, try together, run together, suffer together, rest together, be awake together, as God’s stewards, guests, and servants.’
Fr. Pavel Florensky
And some reminders straight from the God-bearer:
Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses such power that Christ stands in the midst of them, how much more will the prayer of the bishop and of the whole Church, ascending up in harmony to God, prevail for the granting of all their petitions in Christ! He, therefore, that separates himself from such, and does not meet in the society where sacrifices are offered, and with ‘the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven,’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, while he presents a mild outward appearance. Do ye, beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop, and the presbyters and the deacons. For he that is subject to these is obedient to Christ, who has appointed them; but he that is disobedient to these is disobedient to Christ Jesus. And ‘he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ For he that yields not obedience to his superiors is self-confident, quarrelsome, and proud. But ‘God,’ says [the Scripture] ‘resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble;’ and, ‘The proud have greatly transgressed.’ The Lord also says to the priests, ‘He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that heareth Me, heareth the Father that sent Me. He that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that
despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.’
The last times are come upon us. Let us therefore be of a reverent spirit, and fear the long-suffering of God, lest we despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance. For let us either fear the wrath to come, or let us love the present joy in the life that now is; and let our present and true joy be only this, to be found in Christ Jesus, that we may truly live.
Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavour to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death!
Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. For I remark, that two different characters are found among men—the one true coin, the other spurious. The truly devout man is the right kind of coin, stamped by God Himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to
God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice. The unbelieving bear the image of the prince of wickedness. The believing possess the image of their Prince, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, through whom, if we are not in readiness to die for the truth into His passion, His life is not in us.
I therefore have need of meekness, by which the devil, the prince of this world, is brought to nought.
And, in relation to recent ecclesial elections:
…we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would
do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would look upon the Lord Himself, standing, as he does, before the Lord.