Genuine and False Experiences of the Grace of God
- A recorded speech of Archimandrite George of our Holy Monastery of Saint Gregory of the Holy Mountain at Stratoni of Halkidiki, on 14/27 January 1989, at the invitation of the Most Reverend Nikodemos, Metropolitan of Hierissou, of the Holy Mountain and Ardameri.
I am very pleased seeing at this evening's meeting, a holy and blessed gathering, the honorable presbytery led by the preacher of the Holy Metropolis, but also yourselves, a pious crowd, who through the blessing and invitation of your Most Reverend Metropolitan and Head Shepherd, you are gathered here this evening so that all of us confess our true faith to our God-man Lord. Your presence this evening is not only the attendance for a lecture but also the testimony of the Orthodox faith, which my humility will profess by mouth while you profess it with your presence. And as the Lord said in the Holy Bible: "Whoever confesses Me in front of men, I shall confess him in front of My Father in the Heavens".
The purpose of our life, as you know, is our union with God. As the Holy Bible says, man was created "in the image and likeness" of God, namely to unite with Him. The likeness of man with God, our holy Fathers call it "theosis". Can you see how great is the purpose of man's life? Not simply to become better, more virtuous, more courteous, but a god by grace. And what is the difference between the Holy God and deified man? That our Maker and Creator is God by nature and according to His nature, while we become gods by grace, for although by nature we remain men, with His grace we are deified.
When man unites with God by grace, he receives also the experience of God, he feels God. For otherwise how could we unite with God without feeling His grace?
The first-created in Paradise, before they sinned, could converse with God, could feel divine grace. God created man to be a priest, prophet, king. Priest to accept His existence and the world as gifts of God, and to offer in return himself and the world to God eucharistically and doxologically. Prophet to understand the mysteries of God. King to reign in the material creation and himself, and to use nature not as a tyrant but as a ruler. Not to abuse creation, but to use it thankfully. Today man does not use nature logically but acts selfishly and foolishly, with the result of destroying his natural surrounding and within it destroying himself.
George C. Thomas