In this recording, Archimandrite Athanasios Mytilinaios (1927-2006), answers the question: “What are the traits of a man with a pure heart? Is it possible for humans to see God?” “Saint Isaac the Syrian says that a simple man is he who, when seeing a shape, understands it as it is. His mind does not go elsewhere. It does not go to the so-called dirty hints. It only goes to what he sees, nothing else. Meaning, he does not transform what is seen into something dirty.”
Audio source: “Catechism”, no. 960 (in Greek), November 10, 1996
Another question asks, “What are the traits of a man with a pure heart?”
Ah… this clean heart. The one that the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8] They shall see God. Pay attention, not in the future, but in the present. Not in the heaven, but on earth.
How can one see God? It is “the scary” position held by St. Symeon the New Theologian. Don’t be scared! “If you have not seen God from this life, you do not have a chance of seeing God in the next life.”
Is it like that? Yes, it is like that. So, how is God seen?
The answer is given by Theophilus of Antioch in an epistle to a friend of his, called Autolycus. He had sent him three epistles. This is found in the beginning of the first epistle.
When can one see God? When the heart is pure-I will use a dogmatic expression-the energies of God are reflected.
It does not say energies in the epistle, it is a later characterization I use. Which energies of God? As you know all energies of God derive from Him, God.
I cannot believe, unless I receive the energy of God which is called faith.
I cannot love, unless the energy of God, called love, arrives.
From there derive all the uncreated energies of God, as our dogmatic [«Δογματική»] says.
If that’s the case, what is there for me to offer? The heart. Theophilus of Antioch says “like mirror” [«δίκην κατόπτρου»]. When a sunray falls on a mirror, the sunray is reflected. When, however, “the mirror of the heart” is full of rust, how can something be reflected. It is not possible.
Thus, when I have a clean mirror, that is a pure heart, the energies of God arrive and return back. They return as a response. God sends His energy as faith and I respond on the matter of faith. God sends His energy as love and I respond as love to God and so on.
Thus, a pure heart is the one free from passions, free from deceit, thus the candid heart.
All these make heart possess a resultant of virtues, called simplicity.
When Christ saw Nathanael, what did He tell him? Here is one Israelite who has no deceit in his mouth.
There is no deceit, meaning, he is straight, not bent.
What is now simplicity? Saint Isaac the Syrian uses an example. It is known that wicked men speak a language [full of] hints on dirty things.
They even make “shapes” concerning dirty things. The wicked man insinuates the dirty shape and the dirty words. By “insinuate” I mean he understands. Who is a simple man [on the other hand]? Saint Isaac the Syrian says that a simple man is he who, when seeing a shape, understands it as it is. His mind does not go elsewhere. It does not go to the so-called dirty hints. It only goes to what he sees, nothing else. Meaning, he does not transform what is seen into something dirty.
It is really important, people, for one to possess a pure heart. Simplicity is the resultant of all virtues.
And I would ask for the help of God in order to obtain this simplicity. It is then that the heart is pure and one can see God.
In this case, the faith is great, the love is great and then the man walks towards martyrdom. Otherwise, it is incomprehensible to head to martyrdom, incomprehensible.