Friends, the following is a short excerpt from a talk given by Elder Aimilianos, one of the great elders of our time, titled simply “Spiritual Life.” The full text can be found in his book The Church at Prayer.
[W]hat are the principles that should govern our spiritual life? First and foremost, For us to be spiritual people, for our lives to be true, we must live a sacramental and mystical way of life. What does a sacramental and mystical way of life mean? Was any of us born of his own accord? No. All of us received the gift of life from our father and our mother. In the same way, no one acquires the gift of the Spiritual life by his own efforts, try though he may. No matter how much I stretch myself. I'm not going to get any taller, however much I struggle. In the same way, I’m not going to create a spiritual life for myself. Even if I exhaust myself trying, if I toil, and weep, or undertake long fasts, the spiritual life is a gift granted to me by the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 2.8-10).
It follows, then, that a basic condition for the spiritual life is that we should understand that, on our own, we can do absolutely nothing. No matter how hard we try, the spiritual life is something that someone else gives to us. And this "someone else” is the Spirit of God, the Comforter, the “treasury of good things and the giver of life”, the treasury from which all the riches of spirituality come forth, the source from which the spiritual life emerges and overflows. Of course, sometimes we get confused, and think that to be spiritual means to be a “good person”: not to steal, not to kill, not to go to bad places or with bad friends, to go to church on Sunday, to be there for the Doxology, or at least in time to hear “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, to read spiritual books, and so on.
But no, this is not the spiritual life. A spiritual person, a true Christian, is someone whose entire life is sworn to God. Initially, by means of his baptism, and later, in his heart, such a person swears an oath to God, to live for God, and to remain with God forever. A spiritual person is an athlete who has burst into life, who stands out from the crowds of human beings, and runs with all the speed of his soul to heaven. A spiritual person is one who, with shining eyes and chest thrust forward, has set his course and races to heaven. He is not a “good man”. A spiritual person knows that, in order to succeed, he needs strong wings: the wings of the Holy Spirit.
A spiritual person must therefore do everything possible to attract, to win over, the Spirit of God, because only the Holy Spirit, God himself, has the gifts of the spiritual life.