St. Symeon the New Theologians says that salvation is to bring the mind into its natural state. There is a paradise within us, and we can enter into that paradise even in this life. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov says that before the fall the mind of Adam was united with his heart, and he insists that this is what paradise was. But as a result of the fall this union of mind and heart was broken and man lost his free communication with God.
Therefore we need to cultivate this state, just as the Theotokos did when, as an infant she resolved to dedicate her whole life to God. And I said “she resolved”, because it is written that when she was brought to the Temple by her parents she ran up the steps of the Temple without looking back at them. This is something that surprised both the priests and her parents because it would have been natural for a child of that age to look back. So, she then withdrew from the world and nourished her soul with the things of God, the Scriptures and the worship of the Temple. She was not only a hearer, but also a doer of God’s word. Thus she prepared herself to be a dwelling place of God. But how do we move in this direction?
Well, today, let us simply speak about things that can be counterproductive to such a state. The Apostle Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:3), and he instructs us, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Furthermore, he warns us, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7-8) Again he says “be renewed in the spirit of your mind; put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-4). And the Apostle John the Theologian is more to the point and clear in writing, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
The Mother of God was the response of all creation to God’s love, but God’s love is sacrificial love. At the heart of the love of God there is the gift of self, the Cross. May God grant us to learn from this frail maiden her heroic simplicity and her wonderful wholeness. And let us learn from all the steps of her life, all the self-denial and the gift of self, all the beauty of her surpassing humility and its perfect obedience to the law of eternal life. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh