Friday, January 2, 2015

Can we have a personal Theophany?

Can we have a personal Theophany?  
by Fr Ted Toppses

A Theophany is a manifestation of God to mankind.  It can be to one person or many.   Our lives can sometimes be plagued by a lack of understanding and realization of God’s real presence.  This predicament is part of our fallen human nature that causes us to focus on the physical in a very dominant way rather than the spiritual.

We have heard it said that God speaks to man in a “still small voice” (1st Kings 19:12) and yet our Lord is the one who made heaven and earth.  To reconcile this seeming contradiction that the God of all speaks in a “still small voice” and is yet also the creator of all, who is infinite and all powerful, we must understand who we are as human beings and why spiritual realities seem often so far or imperceptible. 

The “still small voice” of God in truth is not a small voice at all, it is perceived that way because of who we are in a fallen human state.  When we make ourselves still, or quiet ourselves,  then with prayer God can be heard as a small voice which gets louder the more we pray in spirit and truth while the body is quiet.

Jesus while speaking to the woman at the well (St. Photini), he explains a profound truth about our communication with God.  Jesus said “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John  4:23-24)

We are made in the likeness and image of God.  We are capable through Christ of union with God and can even become godlike.  And yet the fall of humanity occurred and our being contains fallen aspects.  Christ came and we are given the path and way to God and life. We are able to receive the blessing of these things through Jesus Christ our Lord and God.  As a result of the fall however we should remember that our humanity is focused in a dominant way on the physical. 

We are a composite being made of body and soul, we are our body and we also are our soul.  We are one person. 

For us to hear the “still small voice” which is not actually small at all, we must pray in spirit and truth.  The prayer in truth means that we pray according to the fullness that Christ and the saints gave us.  Our prayer should use the proper understanding of God and His creation. Praying in Spirit and is prayer with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer in truth is prayer that resonates with the understandings of the Orthodox faith which is the fullness of The Truth.  An example of prayer in this way is the quiet practice of the Jesus prayer.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” This prayer contains many truths that profoundly express a proper belief in Christ and His Salvation.  Prayer is a connection with Christ through communication.  

We are speaking to God and not just throwing words out into the air.  The Jesus prayer has a declaration of Christ which when prayed humbly and fervently blesses us with the prayer of the Holy Spirit. 

Can we experience Theophany?  Yes we can.  Will we in this life? That is up to us and God.

We must reach out to God who is patiently awaiting our return from our prodigal living.  We can experience God all the time of our lives as long as we connect with Christ in unceasing prayer.  

This is accomplished the more we pray “in spirit and truth”.  The more we pray this way, we open up our perception to the things beyond the physical to see and feel God who is with us all the time.  

We can experience God who is our parent and loves us more than we know how to love.

So now is the time to act.  Attend the Liturgy, pray the liturgy, and receive Christ within you through Holy Communion.  Take the opportunity also in private to sit still and quietly pray in a peaceful and prayerful place that your heart may open up to receive the King of all invisibly escorted by Angelic Hosts Alleluia!