Abridged excerpts from Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Way (with commentary questions on using images in prayer by Brad Jersak)
The following is an abridged excerpt from Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s classic work, The Orthodox Way (1979). Kallistos (Timothy) Ware is an English bishop within the Eastern Orthodox Church and one of the best-known contemporary Orthodox theologians.
His book includes an outstanding and accessible summary of Orthodox theology and practice, including a clear presentation on Orthodox contemplation. This excerpt is abridged from portions of chapter six.
Following the excerpt, Brad Jersak responds with some commentary / questions regarding the use of the imagination in Orthodox contemplation.
Excerpt from chapter 6 “God as Prayer”
It is customary to divide the spiritual Way into three stages. For St Dionysius the Areopagite these are purification, illumination and union—a scheme adopted in the West. St Gregory of Nyssa, taking as his model the life of Moses, speaks of light, cloud and darkness. But in this chapter (The Orthodox Way, ch. 6) we shall follow the somewhat different threefold scheme devised by Origen, rendered more precise by Evagrius, and fully developed by St Maximus the Confessor. The first stage here is praktiki or the practice of the virtues; the second stage is physiki or the contemplation of nature; the third and final stage, our journey’s end, is theologia or “theology” in the strict sense of the word, that is, the contemplation of God himself.