WINDOW  TO  ETERNITY

 

 

THE ROLE OF CONSCIENCE AND THE INNER WORLD

 

A study dedicated to all those people who
search deep inside them in order to discover their real self, and even God Himself and His Kingdom.

There, inside them, they must have surely found Hades in order to break its chains with the help of the One who descended into the deepest "parts" of it. The One who rendered it dead for the sake of all those who wish to bring death to Hades inside them with His death and resurrection; so that they may become inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.



THE ROLE OF CONSCIENCE AND THE INNER WORLD

By the Revd. Fr. Andreas Michailidis

Introduction

The conception of Man

The beginnings of conscience
The inner world
The beginning of the creation of the inner world
The development of the inner world

The organization and function of the inner world
The unconscious
The inner world, the person and the other persons and things
 

Finally, what is conscience and what is inner world?
What is moral conscience and how does it function?
The attributes and the role of conscience
 

Moral conscience and spiritual maturation
The role of conscience in the preparation for eternity
Conscience as controller of motives
Conscience as a guide for Man's thirst for distinction
 

Epilogue:

"The role of conscience in the deification of man."

 

 

Introduction

The whole subject goes back to the creation of Man. After (if we can say "after") God had created the spiritual world, the angels, He then (if we can say "then") created the visible world out of matter. Finally, He created Man out of both matter and spirit. In His supreme wisdom, He created Man in such way so that Man would partake of both the material and the spiritual world; so that Man be the unique link that unites those completely different in their essence worlds.

Something else that we should have in mind is that God created Man in His image and in His likeness. The first renders Man worthy of being a copy of God. Among other things, this includes the participation of Man in the divine attributes. Two of them are freedom and the attribute of person. The quality of likeness denotes the special privilege that Man has in his construction that he potentially bears divinity within him. That is, Man is made so that he can become god.

As we all know, the Fall of Man follows and that spoils the image of God in Man and checks the ascending process of Man towards divinity.

However, all of these are found in the more profound essence of Man, yet we must have them in mind all the time when we refer to Man, especially in relation to the subject that is going to occupy our time tonight.

In order to see our subject in the right manner, we should start from the conception of Man.



The conception of Man

The conceptiion of Man seemingly is merely a biologica matter. The fact that it jis only s.eiemiiing,ly biological should not be overlooked. On the other hand, we should not overlook the fact that it is biological as well.

Let us start with facts.

The conception of Man is for most people and especially biologists the end of a random biological process. We shall see eventually whether they are right or whether the truth is concealed from the eyes of most people.

The intricacy of the process of conception denotes the rejection of any sense of randomness. The production of sperms or spermatogenesis is a virtual miracle. It starts with the front lobe of the pituitary gland of the brain with the secretion of certain hormones which prompt for the production in the testicles. The sperms are lively organisms, not complete by themselves, yet living organisms which function with some kind of brain. When the biologist can see them under the microscope moving at comparatively great speed in their desperate struggle for survival from the various caustic and other dangerous liquids that they come across on their way to the ovary, cannot resist the thought that these under creatures have life in them, and even some kind of brain. This impression comes to a climax with the struggle of those really few sperms that have managed to reach the ovary and take a siege round it in order to break through it and invade it.

Naturally, we cannot talk of an independent life in the sperm, and neither can we when we refer to the ovary. However, when the invasion takes place of one of the sperms into the ovary, then an independent life begins of an independent and unique Man. We cannot talk about an independent brain in the sperm neither can we do that when we refer to the ovary. However, we can talk about the beginning of th ecreation of an independent brain at the time of conception.

You might be wondering why I occupy myself and you with things that do not belong to the field of Theology but to the field of Science. The reason is because here lie most of the answers which might come up in the process of the analysis of our theme.

More specifically, what we have already mentioned, that is: that the beginning of the production of sperms is found in the pituitary gland, conceals a lot of secrets. Those who have dealt with the function of the brain and mainly with the function of the pituitary gland and of the pons more specifically, must have realized its metaphysical character. It is, however, to this metaphysical or supernatural character that the origin of conception must be attributed. Of course, we know very well that not all of the sperms manage to reach their goal. However, it is not possible that this is achieved at random. It is achieved according to a predetermined plan which the Creator draws. As with Adam, it is not possible that he was the result of an accidental event, in the same way it is not possible that the creation of each one of us is an accidental matter.



The beginnings of conscience

Therefore, conscience and the inner world, the role of which we are going to. deal with tonight, has its background in the first command that the pituitary gland accepts from the Creator. The first nucleus that is farmed with the conception has potentially the ground upon which conscience and the inner world is going to be cultivated and developed. Of course, we must always bear in mind that this conception is not an accidental matter and it is the creation af no other creature but the animal which is destined for divinity.

When Man is born, his inner world is like a blank paper (tabula rasa, as the Latin people used to say), with the exception of the vague experiences of another unknown kind which the fetus had during its stay in the womb. Therefore, we could just as well say that when Man is born conscience is a vaguely written paper.

What we could finally say is that the kind of inner world that the fetus had in its mother's womb is still unknown to us. Considering the fact that Man is mainly created for this world, into which he is born, his stay in the womb is temporary and preparatory for the life outside it, then we might say that what is of interest to us is mainly the inner world as that is formed after birth.

Let us go back to the stand that the inner world after birth resembles a blank paper. In a little, the first experiences begin to be recorded on that paper. These experiences came form the outside world within which the new Man found himself. We say "outside world" in order to stress the opposite of the "inner world". The outside worlld is that which lies outside us. The inner world is the one that lies inside us. Does that mean that the inner world is found somewhere in our inner organs? There was a time in the past and to some extent even today that some people think or even believe so. We must have heard about the heart, the liver, the kidneys and other parts of our body that are found in the depths of our body, supposedly playing a role of this kind that is: that they constitute the centre of our inner world. However, we know very well that they are mistaken. However, if they are in error, then where is the inner world? This is a very decisive question, the answer to which will help us in the search of our theme.



The inner world

The answer to the above question, is that the inner world is not found anywhere. One might say, though: "Then there is no such thing as inner world." That is a mistake. Whatever does not exist somewhere does not mean that it does not exist. An example is God. God does not exist anywhere. That does not mean that He does not exist. The error can be traced in our incapacity to imagine anything existing outside space. Two "measures" which overwhelm our whole life are space and time. They are so closely connected to each other that we usually refer to them as one: space-time.

Our above mentioned incapacity, that is: to conceive the idea of existence outside space and time, often renders us incapable of grasping ideas like these: the existence of conscience or of the inner world outside space. Here the link can be found in the fact of the command which the pituitary gland receives, as we mentioned previously, for the creation of hormones which will cause the production of sperms. This command is given outside the function of the brain and more specifically of the pituitary gland. The latter, as we know, is the cog in a machine. We know of nothing further than that for the production of sperms. What is that, then, that makes the pituitary gland cause the production of those hormones? It is there that science gives up and metaphysics or even better theology undertake to make things clearer. The decision for the production of the hormones is given by the engineer of the machine, of this unbelievably intricate machine that is called human body. It is curious then why and how some people object to this stand. These same people would never object to the idea of a certain engineer putting into operation and intervening with a certain machine that he constructed in order to improve it or make it operate more effectively,

Therefore, the inner world is not found in space. However, it exists and functions much more effectively and efficiently than any other organ of the body that is found in space. And we are usually more conscious of the existence of this world, the inner world, than that of the existence of our body itself. Anyway, we seldom have the opportunity of looking at it and experiencing it.



The beginning of the creation of the inner world

The question is: "Do we have conscience or an inner world when we are born?" As we have already said, at the beginning our inner world is like a blank paper. It exists merely like a blank paper on which our experiences will be recorded and what we call conscience and inner world will gradually be formed. This blank paper is very significant. Without it we would have no conscience; we would not have been human beings. This blank paper, which potentially exists from the moment of conception, is given by God. It is that that gives us the possibility to differ from the other creatures. The fact that it is blank has no negative meaning whatsoever. This fact affords us many advantages and capabilities. It is a piece of paper that we can never say that it is full and there is no room for anything more to be recorded. It is this paper that gives the capability to be developed up to divinity. Without this pajper we would not differ from the animals.

You must have noticed that conscience and inner world are presented here as about being the same thing. This matter will become clear with the further analysis of the subject.

We are talking about the recording of experiences. What do we mean? After birth, the senses gradually begin to function. At the same time, even more "timidly" the brain begins to develop and function. The sensory organs bluntly begin to function. That is why the recording of these experiences are vague at the beginning. It is for this reason that Man has no clear consciousness and awareness and neither does he have of himself and of the world around him. His perception is equally poor.

More specifically, he looks at his mother. Actually, he can barely see her. The acuity of his vision is non-existent. He can see her vaguely. The reason: the function of his vision is not strong. To make matters worse, the brain is not yet accustomed to receiving stimuli and it is far from being able to process them. The stimulus in this case is his mother's face; perhaps her voice along with it. He receives both stimuli. He can see his mother and he can hear her as well, yet very vapidly. However, soon the senses become more acute and the brain is developed, more well formed and begins to function more effectively. In this way, the recordings of the experiences in the inner world are dearer and with more dearly-cut outlines.



The development of the inner world

Of course, we can understand that when we say recordings we do not mean the common recordings. We mean those invisible recordings which are made in the unseen inner world which is not found in space.

At the beginning., the recordings are made without any cohesion and wiithout any organization. One might say that the only thing that our inner world is interested in at the beginning is merely the recordings to be made in any way. In time, however, and especially with the development of the brain, the latter begins having greater capacities and capabilities. Now it can process the stimuli that the sensory organs receive. In this way, these stimuli obtain meaning and with a meaning now they begin to be recorded in our inner world. In this way, we must say that the recordings are not only more acute and clearer but with more colour as well. So the inner world is enriched and acquires some meaning and scope. Mother's face is not colourless any longer but beaming with a smile and very sweet. The voice that comes out of her mouth is likewiise sweet and tender. As we can realize, the inner world is enriched with feelings as well. The child begins to be joyful and to love whatever it sees. Gradually, it begins to respond to all these and to answer back to the sweet smile of its mother with an even sweeter smile and to her voice with its own beloved whispers and little sounds.



The organization and function of the inner world

This inner world has yet another feature and capability. It is something that begins to happen with the baby. The inner world has the capability, at a certain stage, to organize all of these recordings.. It separates them into, categaries af old or even older and vague and newer and clearer. Eventually, it creates three sections. One of them is the one that contains the most vague recordings; the first experiences that it had as soon as it arrived in this here world. This section is what we call unconscious. The other section is the subconscious. It is that where those experiences enter and are recorded that man can recall and bring them back to, the conscious. This is the third section cf the inner world. The conscious is that point of aur inner world through which all of our experiences that we have pass. It is a point of passing by. Here, no, experience stops. There is a continuous flow of experiences which pass through this point of conscicus. lmmediatelly after that, they enter the subconscious in order to take their place there.

The conscious is the most important part of our inner world. As far its size is concerned (if we can talk abaut size and things like that)., the conscius is a small dot in comparison to the subconscious and the vast unconsciaus. All the same, every experience of ours is obliged to pass through this dot in order to become conscious. If a potential experience never passes through this dot is as if it never existed for us. Furthermore, if an experience that at same time passed through it and took its place in the subconscious and was never recalled to the conscious, that, too, is found in non-existence. For us, there exists only whatever passes through the conscious. The unconscious does not exist for us, not because it really does not exist but because the access to it or the access of it to the conscious is non-existent or impossible. We repeat, the unconscious exists. It exists and in some cases it exists in a dynamic way, as we shall see, and it affects and influences our inner world.

Every experience that we have passes through the conscious and immediately after that it takes its place in the subcanscious. These experiences are stimuli that are received by one of the sense organs. The sense organs are seemingly five in number and the senses are accordingly five. In fact, however, the sensory organs and the senses respectively are of a much greater number. The sensory organs are actually some tiny nerves which exist at variaus parts of our body and which receive stimuli coming from the outside world, the world of senses. These stimuli are transferred by the sensory organs by which they are received and are conveyed to the appropriate point of the brain. There, they are processed. This processing is an extremely intricate procedure. Its intricacy reaches jts peak, to the point of mystery, at the so called synapses of the brain. Science cannot describe what is precisely happening there. What we only know is that, in an inexplicable way, the optic stimulus that the eye received is conveyed to that point of the brain which processes the information conveyed by the optic nerve. Its interpretation, though, into an image and even the sense of vision cannot be traced out. It is a mystery which man will probably never be able to trace out, at least in the manner that man traces out any other item.

That which finally leaves the synapse of the brain, actually leaves the space of the brain itself to end up there where there is no space., that is: in the inner world. As we mentioned before., it passes through the conscious and then occupies its position in the subconscious.



The unconscious

The unconscious, as we said before, is a vast "space" of our inner world, where all of those experiences which cannot be recalled to the conscious are found. That is due to the supreme bluntness of those experiences. The lack of acuity In those experiences is due to a variety of reasons. One of them is that they were created during infancy when the senses were not comprehensive and the brain was not yet organized enough to be able to process the stimuli in a comprehensive manner. Another group of such experiences are those which we have at any time and which do not pass through the conscious. There are experiences which go directly to the subconscious and from there they are liable to pass iinto the vast "space" of the unconscious. These experiences are much greater in number than those that pass through the conscious and take their place in the subconscious. Each time, only one experience of one kind can pass through the conscious. At the same time, however, there can be (and there really are) much more stimuli which the conscious cannot accept simultaneously. All of those stimuli and experiences are not lost. They pass through the subconscious to find their way into the unconscious.

In this way, we might explain the fact that one day we are irritable without being able to find the reason why. The irritation might be due to experiences whiich did not pass thmugh the conscious. That is why we cannot recall them there where they had never passed through, that is through the conscious. Anyway, that is why they are found in the unconscious. However, the fact that they are found iin the unconscious does not mean that they do not affect man. As it was mentioned before, this "space", the unconscious, has a great influence on our psychological condition. For instance, all of the phobias are rooted in the unconscious.. The same applies to the passions as well as other conditions are due to the synthesis of the unconscious. This vague influence of the almost unknown unconscious determines to its greatest extent the particularity of our personality. Anyway, we shall see more analytically the role that it plays in our life.



The inner world, the person and the other persons and things

In a few words, we have taken a glimpse at what about is that which we call inner world. It is that world that determines the ego. Without that we would not know who we really are. We would not even distinguish the you, the he or she or it, the we, the you, the they. These so wen-known pronouns which we learned in Grammar were already known deep in us before we went to school. We did not know them merely as words and used them but we had a rather complete knowledge of their meaning. For instance, I knew that it was another thing that which was not I and which lay outside me. Conversely, I have the consciousness that the I is found in me and outside that which is called space. I also know that the we is a combination of what is outside space and in me and is called I and the outside me world which is found in space and I know that my I is included in it. The you is what my I has before it and has the second position after the I, as far the significance for my personal existence. Undoubtedly, the first position is occupied by the I. It is not a matter of egoism. The structure of man is such. Man's Creator made him to be so. And this happens because each one of us is made to become god. The knowledge of I begins to be formed, in a timid fashion, from the first days after our birth. It is that knowledge that makes us differ from all the others around us and also from the world around us. Without the I, I would confuse myself with the others and even with the world around me. The I together with the we make us realize the gregariousness of our being. Without it, the I would have had no meaning and scope. Naturally, the others persons (you, he etc. that we mentioned above) have some meaning, yet the we expresses the incorporation of the / within the social unit of which it feels that it constitutes a part. Anyway, this implies the attribute of the person which, as we mentioned at the beginning, constitutes a fundamental feature of that which constitutes the image of God in man. In the same way that God is one, but at the same time three persons, so is man a person, yet it is an unseparable part of the "body" which is called humanity. As God is one, He created one humanity which is composed not of three persons, of course, but of innumerable persons. And in the same way that each person of the Holy Trinity is absolutely conscious of His absolute particularity, so that no confusion could exist among them, so is man conscious of his particularity with the sense of I. And in the same fashion that the three persons of the Holy Trinity communicate in a unifying way among them with the supreme and inconceivable loving relation among them, so that they are one deity, so are men created as persons so that they might communicate among them with love and thus constitute not many but one humanity.



Finally, what is conscience and what is inner world?

Some might think that what has been said up to now is irrelevant to our subject. Finally, what is conscience? Is it our inner world? Is it that which checks us with our most profound inner satisfactions about our final right choices in the practice of our life or with the pangs which the Ancient Greeks deified and imagined as Erinyes or Furies, that is: divine beings which had the intention to continuously chase those who broke the commandments of their conscience?

The answer is simple and complex at the same time. Conscience is both our inner world and our moral inspector. They are actually two faces of the same coin. We usually call the former as psychological conscience, while the latter as moral conscience. Actually, they are not different things, but they are superposed and they go together and they are unified. Without the psychological conscience there would not be any moral conscience. And vice versa, without the moral conscience, the psychological conscience would not have any meaning and scope.

The existence of moral conscience presupposes the existence of the I. However the I is created inside the psychological conscience. The psychological conscience influences and promotes the moral conscience.



What is moral conscience and how does it function?

We have referred to psychological conscience to a great length. Yet what is exactly moral conscience? It is, what everyone says, the innate moral law which exists in every man. In addition to the Holy Scriptures, philosophy says that, and also the science of law and all religions. In other words there is a general agreement on the subject. We could speak for hours about the moral conscience as an innate moral law. Yet our subject is to see the role that it plays. The manner of its function will help us a lot to see that.

As we have said, it is an innate moral law which functions as follows: Every time that we are about to proceed to a certain action or say something or even think of something, some kind of power inside us orders us to proceed or not. When we obey, then that same moral law or moral conscience comes along and rewards us with a feeling of profound self-satisfaction. It is a kind of a reward that cannot be compared with any other prize that we might receive for some achievement of ours. Conversely, if we do not obey and act or speak or think contrary to that, then exactly the opposite happens. That innate moral law acts as the most inexorable judge and avenger. The punishment that this secret judge imposes is irrevocable and of immediate execution. There are no appeals to any second-degree court. The punishment of the guilty person for the violation is immediate and cruel.. Many times the "convict" reaches the point of despair. The pangs of conscience constantly chase and hit him mercilessly. The hits are such that the "convict" would prefer that they were beatings made with some kind of stick to the body rather than to his soul, to his inner world. His entire inner world moans out of pain. He would prefer that he belonged to non-existence, never to have been born. A typical example: Raskolnikov of Fiodor Dostoyevsky in his novel Crime and Punishment. The murderer cannot find any peace anywhere. Even when he is found in his private room, the pangs chase him in a merciless manner. He is a miserable creature. The "convict" of the moral conscience passes through a furnace of trial that he would have preferred that it were a real furnace with fire at very high temperature rather than the one he is experiencing. The whole condition gives us a certain taste of what hell is. Hell is not something made by God. It is the product of the disobedience of man and therefore it is the result of his separation from God. Hell is not fires and pitch on fire. It is the self-criticism of man that he is going to realize and thus he will know very well how unwise it was of him to go away from God. Indeed, many times the situation that is created with the non-compliance with the commandments of conscience, of this unwritten and innate moral law resembles a terrible hell. It is in a way a warning to the man who experiences this trial to evade Hell.

One could say much more about this function of moral conscience. However, it is time to say what purpose does all that serve. Why all this tribulation of man?

Moral conscience helps man keep his inner world clean and immaculate. It is like a conscientious street-cleaner. He catches sight of something that spoils the road and renders it dirty and immediately he runs and picks it and throws it into the dustbin. If that certain thing has left some dirt beneath, he brushes it or throws water and cleans it until it leaves. The same thing happens with conscience. As soon as it sees some kind of a spiritual mess, it immediately runs in order to mend things and accordingly remove it or even takes care that no sign of it is left, no stain from the condition that at some stage spoiled our inner world. The last sentence provides us with the distinction between moral and psychological conscience or inner world. The moral conscience is the actor within the psychologiical conscience or inner world. On the hand, though, the psychological conscience or inner world is that out of which the moral conscience was created. The moral conscience, we might say, is the result of a secret process which, in an obscure and imperceptible fashion, takes place in our inner world.



The attributes and the role of conscience

Deep in that blank paper we have spoken about earlier, terribly great and complex potentialities are hidden. Deep in there, the potentiality of the creation of the innate moral law is hidden. This law cannot be anything else but divine. There can be no other explanation for its existence. Anyway, as we will see, this moral law plays a fundamental role not only for the maintenance of the image of God but for the attainment of the likeness or deification of man as well. That is: it plays a very important role in these fundamental attributes with which man was created. Moral conscience actually takes care for the maintenance of this image of God in man by cleaning anything that spoils this image. For it is necessary that this is done fjrst and then is it possible to try the second one, that is the likeness of God. Man cannot be deified if he does not have the image of God clean first.

Conscience also controls man's motives. Every time that we do something good, our conscience comes along and checks what made us do it. That is: whether feelings of love towards our fellow-man or an effort for social projection and personal ambition prompted us to do what we did. Conscience goes even further. When we do the will of God, what is that which makes us do it? Do we do it out of fear, out of thinking about the reward that we are going to receive from God or is it out of love? Is it fear, reward or love? With feelings of terror, with the thought of the reward or out of love and freely is it that we do the will of God? If it is out of fear, that means that I am still a slave. And God does not need any slaves in His Kingdom but children and inheritors of His Kingdom. And God does not need any mercenaries like those who out of thinking about the reward do anything they do. As we said, God wants children who out of love and in a free manner do whatever they do.



Moral conscience and spiritual maturation

This last one, of course, is not at all easy. Sometimes it is a matter of a process of a whole life, which starts with slavery, passes through the reward-seeking condition and in a free way reaches freedom and love. It is what we call spiritual maturation. Normally, this is done within the framework of the maturation of the Body which is called Church. Within this Body, the faithful Christian may start from the lowest stage of slavery and at some time reach the stage of real freedom and love.

We shall deal with this maturation of the Body in order to see how exactly conscience works for our perfection.

In this stage of our existence, we live in space and time. This time-space holistic reality constitutes a kind of womb inside which we are being prepared for another kind of existence which is called eternity. Our birth into eternity is of a very decisive significance for existence. This is so because there is no movement in eternity. That is why there is no space there for space exists so that movement may take place within it. In eternity, there are the estota, that is: conditions where there is no movement. In eternity there is no time either because time is what measures movement. Without movement, there can be no change. Change is the consequence of movement and ware is the consequence of change and death is the consequence of ware. In eternity, there is no change because, as we said, there is no movement. That is why there is no ware in eternity and therefore there is no death. The non-existence of ware and death are naturally positive and hopeful elements for the faithful person. At the same time, however, they are risky elements for those who are not spiritually careful with certain things. As we said, in eternity there is no change. However, the absence of any change means that our birth into eternity is decisive for our existence.

Let us become more explicit. Within the womb of our mother, before we were born, certain processes were taking place so that when we were out of there and into this world, our senses would function properly. In this way, we are born with perfect vision and hearing and so on. However, if those processes had not taken place inside the womb of our mother, then when we were born we would be blind or deaf and so on. Of course, in that case, the blind or deaf child would not to be blamed for anything, yet when man is born into eternity, he bears the entire responsibility for his blindness and so on. In this way, the man who had not cultivated the superior vision and hearing and so on, during his existence in the space-time "womb", he would be born spiritually blind and deaf into the eternity and he would not be able to see the real Light that is God Himself. He would not be able to hear the indescribable melodies ofthe angels. And that will be his hell.



The role of conscience in the preparation for eternity

Conclusively, then, conscience helps man cultivate these superior senses so that he might be born in eternity seeing and hearing. Of course, he will not be seeing things in space but things in the estota of eternity. And man will not be able to sense these things with the organs of this body of ware and death. This body is built so that it can see and hear and generally feel things that are found in space-time. In eternity man will have special senses which will help him to realize things of eternity. That is why his senses will be completely different from what they are in space and time. For certain, what st. John says: "we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2). We shall see God as He is exactly. Yet how are we going to see Him? With this vision that we have now or with some other kind of vision? That it is going to be with some other kind of vision is evident from the fact e.g. that our vision is functioning merely within the framework of space, even of time. In eternity, though, there is no space and no time. Therefore, the reality of eternity is unknown to us. We shall have body, yet it will be a body that will be functioning in eternity. Those who were able to supersede space-time have had a taste of this experience, within the framework of contemplative prayer and who were able to approach the condition of eternity. They were able to see the uncreated light of God. Those who managed to get rid of the wickedness and malice and generally the weaknesses of this world and were able to love their fellow-man and therefore God Himself more than themselves, were they also able to see the uncreated light of God. The people who were able to acquire the calmness and peace of eternity where everything and everybody stand still in order to enjoy that which is the Real Life, the Real Happiness, the Real Light and generally the true good things and so realized to the utmost the vanity of this world and were detached from it and adhered to God, they were able to see the uncreated light of God.

This achievement, though, is not an instant matter, or even of one day, but sometimes it is a struggle of an entire life. Man is maturing. However, he matures within the framework of the Church which is the authentic and genuine Body of Christ. Here, like the infant in its mother's womb is fed with its mother's blood, so is the faithful Christian, inside the Body of the Church, fed with the Body and Blood ofthe Lord. That is the food with which he is growing spiritually. That is why the faithful Christian needs to be fed with the Holy Communion on a permanent and steady basis: firstly, in order not to die spiritually and secondly, in order to grow up and mature spiritually. In this way, when he is ultimately born in eternity, he will be firstly alive and secondly all of those senses that will enable him to see and hear God and the melodies ofthe angels and of the other heavenly conditions will be functioning with perfection.



Conscience as controller of motives

Another function of the conscience or inner world is its control over motives. That is: it is conscience that checks the authenticity ofthe motives of our actions. A good deed does not necessarily mean that has good motives. The same action coming from two different people might have completely different motives. For instance, the Pharisees performed good deeds which, as Christ reveals, had hypocritical motives. That is, what made them act benevolently was social projection and show off. A good deed is of value only when it is done out of genuine love towards the fellow-man and is inspired by the love with which Christ overwhelms our existence.

 


Conscience as a guide for Man's thirst for distinction

It is conscience that provides us with the right direction to our innate inclination for success and thirst for distinction. Of course, this thirst very often seems to be the cause for many and great tribulations that our world suffers from and especially in our interpersonal and international relations. The disputes between people in their interpersonal relations, as well as between the various groups (any groups), nations, races, religions and ideologies are due, more or less, to this thirst for distinction which man has as an innate quality. Even among spiritual circles there is seems that this thirst for distinction exists which many times develops into a catastrophic situation. However, it is in international relations that this thirst for distinction takes the form of tragic dimensions. There, we have the armament competitions and finally we have wars. Furthermore, the perspective of a potential Third World War today outlines the most ominous and grim future for the whole of humanity.

This thirst for distinction, however, does not exist accidentally in man. Why, then, did God put this thirst into man? Certainly not for the above. God never wishes the destruction of man. God placed this thirst for distinction in man for one and sole target: the deification of man. That is: as our familiar thirst makes us want to drink water, so does this thirst for distinction makes us desire to want to become gods. Without the thirst for water, man would die because water is something indispensable for man to live. Anyway, the greatest part of the human body is made up of water. Without the thirst for distinction, man would never want to become god. However, without this will man would not have been man, because God created him in His likeness, because God wants him to become god as well. His creator wanted him to be like that and we cannot ask why. However, in order for man to be able to become God, potentiality is not enough; man must desire it. Without this burning desire, man would never wish to become god and he would die spiritually.

How was it, though, that this supreme innate thirst for deification took up such form? The answer is very simple. The cause is again, that is: as in other cases, the fall of man. Even more so in this case, the distortion of the thirst for distinction involves the fall itself. That is: the fall itself was caused by the distortion of the thirst for distinction. In his desire to become god, man disobeys the commandment of God, believing that in that way, he would become god. This stand and the fall of man does not constitute an instantaneous act that occurred at some time in the distant past and finished. It is a repeated act and stand. More so is the case today when this stand is found at its peak. There has never been such great fall of man as in our days. And that is because man has never desired to become god so much and without God to such an extent as modern man. Modern man does not disobey just one order but the total of the commandments of God. Man has never defied God so much as today. At that time man was disobeying with fear. It is not an accidental matter that when the fallen Adam and Eve heard the voice of God were afraid and ran in order to hide themselves. Modern man has no such inhibitions. Modern man is not afraid of God because he already feels like god. He does not just defy God; he does not take Him under consideration.

Modern man resembles an intoxicated driver who drives at an incredible speed in order to reach a goal which he himself does not know and in fact is driving towards a cliff. Modern man uses the vehicle of scientific and technological progress in such fashion, intoxicated with the wine of success in various fields, that he is heading straight to his absolute destruction. We all know that in the way he is driving, that is: at the incredible speed of our age, he will soon fall down he cliff. The reason: he does not know and he does not want to know what his destination is. He is running at an incredible speed, in fact, towards his catastrophe.

Our primates followed the example of the devil. The devil forgets the fact that he is a created being. That is the vast difference between the created being and the Creator. The former is created; the latter is uncreated. He forgets that there is no point in his being conceited. Whatever he has or is or he has not or is not is not due to him but is given by his Creator. The same applies to man. For the latter even more so, because, in addition to all the rest, man is material as well (besides his being spiritual) creation, while the devil is only a spiritual being. Finally, we can see something which is terribly strange: the only one that does not think so highly of Himself is Him who has the absolute right to do so. And that is so because whatever He has is absolutely His and mainly Life and Existence.


 

Epilogue



The reality that has just been mentioned is more than evident in the work of divine Oikonomia or dispensation and in the life of its executor, that is the work and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There has never been and there will never be such great humility like His. Among other things, the phrase "it is finished" that comes out of Jesus' mouth, just before he died on the Cross, means the perfection of humility. Conceit kills man in a spiritual way and takes him away from the extremely humble God. Exactly, this humility is the main and the most lively way towards deification. Deification is not attained with great deeds only but with the humble opinion that we have of ourselves. Our inner world, our conscience that is what it is striving throughout our life to tell us: "you can become god only by imitating Christ. When we say imitation of Christ, we do not mean that we should perform miracles like Christ, by delivering great sermons and all those other things that Christ did, but with the extreme humility of Jesus Christ.
When this extreme humility is attained to the extent that one is able to, then deification is about to take place. Then our world around us begins to shine; one can see the uncreated light of God; one begins to taste the eternity; and one's union with God, something which is our destination, is at dawn. That, of course, does not mean disappearance of our person. On the contrary, that means further stress on the idea of person and man's deification.

Finally, our theme seems to be: "The role of conscience in the deification of man." Permit me, though, to let this be the subject for some other time.

 

Rev. Fr. Andreas Michailidis

Fr. Andreas is a Presbyter in the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.


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