… the life of the Church is assimilated and known only through life—not in the abstract, not in a rational way. If one must nevertheless apply concepts to the life of the Church, the most appropriate concepts would be not juridical and archaeological ones but biological and aesthetic ones. What is ecclesiality? It is a new life, life in the Spirit. What is the criterion of the rightness of this life? Beauty. Yes, there is a special beauty of the spirit, and, ungraspable by logical formulas, it is at the same time the only true path to the definition of what is orthodox and what is not orthodox. The connoisseurs of this beauty are the spiritual elders, the startsy, the masters of the ‘art of arts’, as the holy fathers call asceticism. The startsy were adept at assessing the quality of spiritual life. The Orthodox taste, the Orthodox temper, is felt but it is not subject to arithmetical calculation. Orthodoxy is shown, nor proved. That is why there is only one way to understand Orthodoxy: through direct orthodox experience… to become Orthodox, it is necessary to immerse oneself all at once in the very element of Orthodoxy, to begin living in an Orthodox way. There is no other way.
Pavel Florensky, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth. An Essay in Orthodox
Theodicy in Twelve Letters, trans. by Boris Jakim, Princeton NJ, 1997, pp. 8–9.
Quoted in “Lecture I: Thinking and doing, being and praying: where do we start?” which is the first of a series of lectures by Father Andrew Louth on “Orthodox Theology. A Personal Introduction.” More information here. Of course, if you should be anywhere near the Netherlands, you would be well advised to go and listen to the lectures!