7. Spirituality

The word spirituality can be kind of hard to define, so let’s say for now that it means “the daily life of the Orthodox Christian.” Orthodox Christians seek to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17), and so for nearly every moment in life, every task, every occasion, there is prayer. It might be a written prayer. It might be a meditative prayer. It might be off the top of our heads. Extemporaneous prayer has a place in the life of the Orthodox Christian, but in general, the Orthodox draw more on the experience of the saints rather than own private opinions, which are less trustworthy.

 

The spiritual life of an Orthodox Christian is liturgical, sacramental, and mystical. Spiritual intensity is not something reserved for super Christians or monks or nuns. It’s for everyone. This life means prayer and frequent participation in liturgical services in church. It’s also a whole ascetical way of life, which means fasting and other ascetical disciplines, such as non-possessiveness, so that the whole human person, both soul and body, is brought into communion with Jesus Christ through cooperation with His grace.

We have daily prayer disciplines, liturgical calendars, feast days, times of fasting, and so on. It may seem like a lot of rules at first glance, but it’s not about the rules. It’s about putting our whole lives into Christ. Some ways of doing that work better.

Holiness is much more than just being moral. It’s a whole way of looking at the world and a holistic way of living in it. In Orthodox spirituality, we look for the presence of God in everything and everyone, and we treat them accordingly.

Orthodox spirituality is practical, and it’s also customizable with guidance from someone who’s experienced—usually our parish priest. And everything moves toward a single goal, the “one thing needful”—life in Jesus Christ, becoming more like Him.

At the very center of all our spirituality is worship. So what is worship?

Next Article: Worship

Adapted from St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.