I must first say that the intentions of this post are not to judge others’ spiritual state. My actual intentions are related to my own salvation, although perhaps I initially approached it in a round-about sort of way. Indeed, I was hoping to gain insight from others so that I don’t find myself within such a spiritual dilemma as I have described. (as I previously mentioned, I already fell into the evangelical pitfall of taking my salvation for “granted”)
In the link that I provided (Originally posted by Orthodoc), it tells of a story about an individual who notices that many of his family members are merely going through the motions at church. True, he is not able to judge their heart, but by a persons outward actions and countenance, especially if you know someone intimately like a family member, you can gain an overall assessment of their spiritual health. Sometimes I think the mentality of “tending to one’s own salvation” can lead a person down a path of spiritual isolation. From what I’ve learned about the Church so far, salvation is not an individual process solely between you and God, but it is also a process of relationship with your fellow man. If we notice a spiritual brother/sister that has fallen into spiritual stagnation, is it not our responsibility to encourage these people?
Nevertheless, I think we all agree that ritualism and legalism can and does happen in the Church. Repetitive activities, (Reciting the Divine Liturgy, Lighting candles, venerating icons, praying the same prayers) can all lead a person to having a mentality of simply “going through the motions” if close attention if not paid to prevent this from happening. It is my personal opinion that signing of the cross, venerating icons, partaking of the Eucharist, etc. if not performed with the proper state of mind or heart, will have no benefit for ones spiritual life, and perhaps may even be detrimental to it.
Before I fully immerse myself into the Orthodox faith I want to be careful not to allow myself to fall into the trappings of legalism/ritualism. I never want to make the sign of the cross while not paying attention to why I am doing it and the significance of such an action. However, I’m afraid that my spiritual life will develop a ritualistic nature where I simply reach a point of spiritual stagnation. I know that the mind in general can become lazy (especially mine) if engaged in activities that it has seen/come across before.
In light of all this, I was hoping to obtain some advice on how to keep one’s mind “fresh” while performing activities such as reciting the Divine Liturgy or conducting personal prayers. As I mentioned, my mind tends to wander sometimes (ADD?) so any advice you could provide me with would be greatly appreciated.
P.S. I know that this started with an argument of sorts, (which I know is not appropriate for this sub forum) but I hope that I steered it on a proper course so that it can remain in the “convert issues” section. Nevertheless, I would understand if the moderator would prefer to move it elsewhere.