Dear Fr. Simon,
First, a big thank you for your post - which was over-short if anything
When you cite C.S. Lewis here:
Quote:"The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a ?Heaven? for them...?
it prompted me to think that we must all have the beginnings of those qualities inside us, since we are made in the image of God; so the question becomes not one of whether we have them or not (that would be an odd offshoot of predestination, I guess!) - but how they are nurtured and strengthened in this world marred by the effects of that sin which divides us from the will of that same God who made us in His image?
Here, perhaps, there is a real difference between the various Churches. If one holds a non-sacramental view of the Eucharist, then whether one communes or not is immaterial, except as an act of memory; but if one hold to the Orthodox view, then partaking of the Eucharist is an essential part of our theosis; St. Cyril of Jerusalem rightly compares losing some of the bread to losing precious gold. So, to me, at least, baptism and chrismation, and the Eucharistic feast, are essential parts of theosis. Does this mean, as some have said to me, that I ascribe magical qualities to these things? No, simply that my own experience matches what the Church teaches; explanations have I none, nor yet need of them. The Church's teaching and my experience are one here.
So, in that sense, I do want, at the very least, others to have that experience. The analogy I would use would be of various hospitals. I am sure that that hospital over there has excellent facilities and surgeons, and it certainly looks better funded and smarter than the one I'm in; but I know where I am being healed, and can only pray that those in that very smart hospital also experience the same healing. Of course, I can't pronounce either way; but I can say to those not in a hospital that this one is helping heal me. So yes, Fr. Simon, hospital or lifeboat, we can only be humble and speak of that which we know.
So many excellent counsels to silence, and yet, at least in this forum, it is necessary that we speak, not because we have any authority, but because we have something to share - and much to learn.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)