Image of God


If someone turns with his spiritual world to the spiritual world of another person, he encounters an awesome and inspiring mystery[…]. He comes into contact with the true image of God in man, with the very icon of God incarnate in the world, with a reflection of the mystery of God’s incarnation and divine manhood. And he needs to accept this awesome revelation of God unconditionally, to venerate the image of God in his brother. Only when he senses, perceives and understands it will yet another mystery be revealed to him – one that will demand his most dedicated efforts[…]. He will perceive that this divine image is veiled, distorted and disfigured by the power of evil[…]. And he will want to engage in battle with the devil for the sake of the divine image.

Saint Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris, quoted in Sergei Hackel, Pearl of Great Price: The Life of Mother Maria Skobtsova, 1891-1945(DLT / St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1981) 13.

Man was made in the image and likeness of God; but sin marred the beauty of the image by dragging the soul down to passionate desires. Now, God, who made man, is the true life. Therefore, when man lost his likeness to God, he lost his participation in the true life; separated and estranged from God as he is, it is impossible for him to enjoy the blessedness of the divine life. Let us return, then, to the grace [which was ours] in the beginning and from which we have alienated ourselves by sin, and let us again adorn ourselves with the beauty of God’s image, being made like to our Creator through the quieting of our passions. He who, to the best of his ability, copies within himself the tranquillity of the divine nature attains to a likeness with the very soul of God; and being made like to God in the manner aforesaid, he also achieves in full a semblance to the divine life and abides continually in unending blessedness. If, then, by overcoming our passions we regain the image of God and if the likeness of God bestows upon us everlasting life, let us devote ourselves to this pursuit in preference to all others, so that our soul may never again be enslaved by vice, but that our understanding may remain firm and unconquerable under the assaults of temptation, that the end that we become sharers in the divine beatitude.

Saint Basil the Great, “An Ascetical Discourse,” in Saint Basil. Ascetical Works. Translated by Sister M. Monica Wagner, C.S.C. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), 207.

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