Monday, June 15, 2009

Elder Joseph on Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve speak of the most fundamental condition of humanity. We are created in the divine image from the dust and we return to dust in death. We listen to God's Word and obey Him, reaping Life, or we listen to the devil's delusion and reap death in disobeying our Creator.

The following insights on Adam and Eve come from Elder Joseph the Hesychast, one of the greatest Christian ascetics of the 20th century. He resided on Mt. Athos and exercised a profound influence on the monks there. He urged them to lives of purity and often held up the Virgin Mary (the new Eve) as the example of the pure life. He challenged them to put off the old Adam and to put on Christ, the new Adam.

Elder Joseph died in 1959. May his memory be eternal!

From the Letters of Elder Joseph The Hesychast:

I earnestly entreat you: take care of your souls. May not one of you resemble our foremother Eve, but may all of you imitate Theotokos Mariam, the Virgin Mary. She said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord!' and became the Mother of God and the Lady of angels. Her fruit, our sweet Jesus, through obedience ascended the Cross and descended into Hades to heal the great wound of disobedience. Therefore, understand from this the power of this mystery.

We are human and children of transgression, having as a cornerstone the sin of Adam and Eve. So the Lord is condescending towards us and forgives everything when we repent.

...once we recognize God as the Creator of every good thing, as our Father, Provider, and Protector, we must believe in Him with all our heart and soul. We must have our hope only in Him, and when we perceive his manifold benefactions, we shall love Him. And when we love God with all our heart as the Creator, then we shall also love our neighbor as ourselves, knowing that we are all brothers - by nature, in Adam; and by grace, in Christ.

Grace comes gradually, and as soon as it approaches a person, he melts like wax. And at that moment he does not recognize himself; he is wholly a many-eyed, very clear nous. During this supernatural activity, he cannot distinguish himself, because he is completely united with God. Then the rust falls out. The seal is removed. The 'old man' dies. The primeval blood is removed. The whole man is renewed. The person does not undergo a bodily change, but his natural talents and gifts are enlightened, strengthened, and renewed by grace. And the Adam of old, who was formed in the image of God, is vitalized.

This world, my child, is so vain; full of every evil; a place of exile for Adam and subsequently for us as well. But blessed is he who has traded well during this exile and reached the haven of salvation, for he will eternally rejoice with the saints and reign together with Christ unto all ages.

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