"Watchfulness is... when free from mental images, it is the guarding of the intellect... [and] one who fails to pursue watchfulness... cannot free himself from evil thoughts, words, and actions, and because of these thoughts and actions he will not be able freely to pass the lands of hell when he dies." ~ Saint Hesychios the Priest

 

 

Spiritual Alchemy

Anthony was interviewed by "Rayson" at South Chicago Zine Distro, here is the part pertaining to Spiritual Alchemy.
Rayson: Turning now to your recent book, Spiritual Alchemy, I have heard it described as an explanation of the human condition from the Orthodox Christian perspective. Would that be an accurate description?
Anthony: Ah, yes, in broad terms. The text opens with an examination of the pre-fall state of ineffable glory in the Garden of Eden so as to demonstrate God's absolute Grace toward His creaton and His intention for our growth toward perfection.

Rayson: You mean, in Orthodox Christianity it is believed that man becomes perfect?
Anthony: No. Spiritual Alchemy, points out that Adam and Eve were created in God's image and likeness, but at the Fall the likeness was lost and His image became obscurred. In Orthodoxy we move toward both cleansing the imge of God within and restoring His likeness, which is growth toward perfection.

Rayson: Okay, I see.
Anthony: The pre-fall condition of ineffable glory involved single-minded focus on God and the teachings of the Church Fathers functions as the basis for this opening section of Spiritual Alchemy.

Rayson: And where does the book go from there?
Anthony: Succinctly stated, painstaking investigation of the infections suffered from the Fall in the Garden are then at issue.

Rayson: And what does that include?
Anthony: As was just mentioned, human nature endured the tarnishing of God's image within and the loss of His likeness, a condition common to every person. Furthermore, physical death (Adam was created to never die, it was his sin that brought eventual physical death) along with his spiritual death (seperation of the soul from God) are also products of Adam and Eve's sin. As a result, the human condition involves illness of the heart, evil thoughts, and temptation toward sin infects each of us.

Rayson: All of us?
Anthony: Absolutely! Those not realizing this, or those who have no belief in God, are simply suffering from illnesses of the heart (such as blindness and/or ignorance of God). We all labor under the darkening of soul that occurred at the Fall and are obstructed by passions - that is, by demons that prompt us toward sinful thinking and action - one way that Spiritual Alchemy explains this is by pointing to the Church Fathers' "five step cycle toward sin"; here dwell the stages of provocation (a knocking at the mind's door of a thought provoked by a demon), coupling (entertainment of the demon's thought, rather than repelling it), consent (participation in/acting upon the provocation), captivity (permanent lingering of the trace of wickedness left in the heart), and passion (entrenchment of sin in the soul).

Rayson: All of this seems to indicate a serious and quite frankly, desperate condition. Is there any hope?
Anthony: In the Lord Jesus Christ rests all our hope. And Spiritual Achemy concentrates on a curing of our interior terrain by showing that the first century Church estalished by the Son of God serves as our spiritual hospital, with its priests (physicians) diagnosing and treating our spiritual infirmities; medicines include prayer, fasting, obedience/humility, and ascetic endeavors.

Rayson: Just how effective are these?
Anthony: The book looks at the three stages of the spirtual life; purification, illumination, and deification. Cures initially facilitate a purification of interior filth; a treatment regime that, with our cooperation and diligent labor, our absolute obedience to the spiritual father's instruction, exists as sure medicine for our soul.

Rayson:What is this puification, how is it achieved?
Anthony: Our ultimate curative is the Jesus Prayer.

Rayson: What is that?
Anthony: The Old Testament gives examples of calling upon the Lord for healing (such as in the Psalms with King David) and the same reliance on Christ Jesus exists in New Testament times - the blind beggars calling upon the Son of God for mercy and healing Mt. 20:29-34). Eventually, a more set format came into existence; the full text being "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," often a condensed form is recited, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."

Rayson: When is it said?
Anthony: Spiritual Alchemy explains in detail how, under under the supervision of an elder, the Jesus Prayer focuses the mind solely in Chrust and how this affects changes in (purification of) interior realms. Assuredly, under the guidance of a spiritual father the Jesus Prayer is our ultimate curative!

Rayson: Do you have anything else to say about Spiritual Alchemy?
Anthony: Only that the fact of the Jesus Prayer as our ancient and supreme medicant, in conjunction with the other supporting treatments presented in Spiritual Alchemy, provides the sure method by which salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ must be pursued.