Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Zealous for Truth

"Someone who has actually tasted truth is not contentious for truth. Someone who is considered by people to be zealous for truth has not yet learnt what truth is really like; once he has truly learnt it, he will cease from zealousness on its behalf."

– St. Isaac the Syrian

My friend, and my son Basil's Godfather , wrote this essay entitled "Zealous for Truth."
At the outset of Lent - at the outset of anything - it is easy to be consumed with zeal, of one kind or another. But zeal, in an of itself, can often be a sort of spiritual adolescence. As a person who experienced a fairly zealous adolescence, complete with Keith Green's No Compromise and Bible studies every night of the week, I can relate.
As David Goa says:
"For St. Isaac, zeal for truth is itself a symptom of a spiritual disease. Or, perhaps, it is a condition that tends to develop at a certain stage in the spiritual life and is itself simply a marker of that stage. It is the spiritual equivalent of adolescence where the young try out all sorts of ideas and actions with the conviction that no one else has ever had these thoughts or feelings and they are exploring them for the first time. How can it be that no one else has ever seen just how important and ultimate these thoughts and feelings are?

Adolescence is not a disease, of course, although some parents may be inclined to treat it that way. Rather it is part of the process of maturation. Similarly, when a spiritual father or mother sees the “zealousness for truth” spoken of by St. Isaac, they recognize a stage in the spiritual development of the person. But just as with adolescence, if the condition persists, spiritual growth is arrested. One is stuck in the adolescent stage of the spiritual life."
I think that we Christians who do not integrate our zeal into the wholeness of our being and personhood - that wholeness being in Christ (Colossians 3.4) - then we remain, in a sense, stuck continually in the first week of Lent. We are stuck in the endless prostrations of Forgiveness Sunday and the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. If, however, we can move beyond adolescence, to harness and sanctify our zeal, then we can begin to truly await the Bridegroom, and partake of the everlasting Paschal banquet.


Blogger ccotten said...

Thanks for posting these thoughts, Matthew. I really needed to hear St Isaac's words right about now.


10:26 AM  

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