With what fear and trembling must we work our salvation! And how sincerely and zealously must we pray to God: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Ps. 50:10)
—  St. Theophan the Recluse

“(…) la colpa è della loro stupidità e basta. Tu hai mai peccato a causa della tua stupidità Andreij?”
“Tutto è vanità, tutto finisce. L'umanità non sa far altro che ripetere, attraverso gli anni, attraverso i secoli, tutte le sue azioni più basse, quelle che le fanno meno onore. E’ come un circolo vizioso.”

Nathaniel walked through the portal and appeared in Empyrean’s throne room, he saw a tall breathtaking figure, unlike the other Hidden who were clad in armor, this one had a cloak of tomato red surrounding him, his face was sharply defined and mouth-watering with a shock of black hair which was short and spikey, his skin was a rich light brown, his eyes were a stunning and penetrating dark brown, he bowed his head a bit from his position on the Throne to the right of Empyrean’s.
—  Theophanes’ first appearance in The Low Verses second part.
The Iconic Painter – Theophanes the Greek

Theophanes, the erudite painter of Russia, was born in the Byzantine capital of Constantinople around 1330. Owing to his birthplace he was popularly known as Theophanes the Greek in Russia. In 1370 he moved to Novogord and later in 1395 to Moscow. His talent found a fertile ground for expression in Russia which was developing an inchoate struggle for the liberation and unification of lands around Moscow.

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     Stepping into the abbot’s chamber, I said, “I want to be a monk.”
     He responded, “Do you really?”
     "Yes. Really.“
     "Go and find a wife,” he said. So I did. I was married and we had two children–a daughter and a son. The boy grew up to become a successful businessman with many cars, fancy suits and powerful friends. The daughter entered a convent as soon as she was able and turned to a life of solitude and prayer.
     One day, my son was offered a business deal that required him to buy and tear down a nearby convent in order to build a factory. He took it and my daughter was forced from her cell. Soon after, they both came over for Christmas dinner.
     I went to the abbot and told him this story.
     "And do you think something would have been different if you had joined the monastery?“ he asked.
     "And why not?“
     I was silent all that week, and all of Lent, up until easter. One Easter Day, I approached the abbot and said, "Abbot, I am ready.”
     "To become a monk?“
     "No. To not become one." 

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The image of the God whom the faithful creates is the Image of the God whom his own being reveals. Thus it is psychologically true to say that “the God created in the faiths” is the symbol of the Self. The God to whom we pray can be only the God who reveals Himself to us, by us, and for us, but it is praying to Him that we cause the “God created in the faiths” to be himself enveloped in the Divine Compassion, that is, existentiated, manifested by it. The theophanies of the “Gods” manifested to the heart or to the faiths are all theophanies of the real One God (Haqq Haqiqi). When we are the musalli, this must be borne in mind; he who knows this is the gnostic who has untied the knot of closed, limited dogmas, because for him they have become theophanic symbols.
—  Ibn al-‘Arabi (1165 - 1240)
Way of the Ascetics (Tito Colliander)


IF we move out of our self, whom do we encounter? asks Bishop Theophan. He supplies the answer at once: We meet God and our neighbour. It is for this very reason that denying oneself is a stipulation, and the chief one, for the person who seeks salvation in Christ: only so can the centre of our being be moved from self to Christ, who is both God and our neighbour.

This means that all the care, concern and love that we now lavish on ourselves is then quite naturally and without our noticing it transferred to God and thereby to our fellowmen. Only so is the left hand kept from knowing what thy right hand doeth,and your alms are actually given in secret (Matthew 6:3-4).

Until this has come to pass, we cannot be filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14) in a real, non-material way. Our attempts along this line must be false because they are our own and spring from our will to please ourselves. It is especially necessary to understand this, for otherwise we become easily confused on the road of specious helpfulness and smug well-meaning that leads inevitably to the swamp of self-satisfaction.

Refrain from busying yourself, therefore, with charity bazaars, sewing meetings and other such occupations. Busyness over many things is, in all its forms, chiefly a poison. Look within, examine yourself accurately, and you observe that many of these apparently self-giving deeds spring from a need to deafen your conscience: that is, from your uncontrollable habit of satisfying and pleasing yourself (Romans 15:1).

No, the God of love and peace and complete sacrifice does not care to live in the midst of bustling and ado to please oneself, even if this is carried on perhaps under some kind of pretence. There is one way to make a test: if your peace of mind is troubled, if you become dejected or perhaps a little angry if for some reason you have to give up performing the good deed you had planned, then you know that the spring was muddy.

Perhaps you ask, Why? Those who are experienced answer, external hindrance and opposition meet only the person who has not yielded his own will to God: and for God an obstacle is unthinkable. A truly unselfish act is not mine, but God’s. It cannot be obstructed. Only for my own plans, my own wishes-to study, to work, to rest, eat, or do a service to my fellowman–can some external circumstance “get in the way,” and then I am grieved. But for the person who has found the narrow way that leads to life, that is to God, there is only one conceivable hindrance, and that is his own, sinful will. If he now wishes to do something but is not permitted to carry it out, how can he grieve? For the rest he is not making any plans (James 4:13-16).

But this is another of the saints’ secrets.

Do not be deceived. A Christian ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (I John 2:6) who did not seek his own will (John 5:30), but, was born on straw, fasted forty days, watched in prayer long nights through, healed the sick, drove out evil spirits, had no place to lay his head, and who finally let himself be spat upon, scourged and crucified.

Think how far you are from that. Ask yourself continually anew: Have I watched in prayer a single night? Have I fasted a single day? Have I driven out a single evil spirit? Have I unresistingly let myself be insulted and beaten? Have I truly crucified the flesh (Galatians 5:24), and not sought my own will?

Keep all this freshly in mind.

For what is denying oneself? He who truly denies himself does not ask, Am I happy? or, Shall I be satisfied? All such questions fall away from you if you truly deny yourself, for by so doing you have also given up your will for either earthly or heavenly happiness.

This obstinate will to personal happiness is the cause of unrest and division in your soul. Give it up and work against it: the rest will be given you without effort.

~1 hour in, now.
holy shit this stuff is heavy.
a guy brutally murders his dog with a heavy club after being thrown out of his monastery for being that guy we want to throw into the wilderness
so basically he’s just an irredeemable villain you know

now Andrei is learning intense secrets during a hermitage with Theophanes the Greek.

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All {the divine Names} refer to one and the same Named One. But each one of them refers to an essential determination, different from all the rest; it is by this individualization that each Name refers to the God who reveals himself to and by the theophanic imagination.
—  Ibn al-‘Arabi (1165 - 1240)