One of the ways Christians seek unity with God is by what I term the Way of Love. This is where the emphasis is paced on the love of Christ. It is the way of the heart. It is a spiritual path following the first commandment:
“You hall love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind” (Matt 22:37-8).
One who lived and taught this approach was Elder Porphyrios. His teaching has been recored for us in the wonderful book put together from his talks titled, Wounded by Love.
Elder Porphyrios continually emphasizes that our first thought should always be love of God. He says,
Christ is joy, the true light, happiness. Christ is our hope. Our relation to Christ is love, eros, passion, enthusiasm, longing for the divine. Christ is everything. He is our love. He is the object of our desire. This passionate longing for Christ is a love that cannot be taken away. This is where joy flows from.
The Way of Love is the unending focus on love of Christ. Elder Porphyrios’ method, is nothing more than loving Christ––Loving Him so much that nothing else takes precedence. In this way we overcome our ego, passions and evil. It is an all consuming love. Our mind has no room left for anything else but Christ.
Imagine that the person you love is Christ, Christ is in your mind, Christ is in your heart, Christ is in your whole being, Christ is everywhere.
He chooses to use the term “eros” for love. The term eros is commonly used to refer to a passionate, intense desire for someone. For Plato eros is a common desire we have for a transcendental beauty-–the beauty that exists in the world of Forms or Ideas. Platonic love is a love of the form of beauty-–not of a particular individual, but the element they posses of true (Ideal) beauty. For Plato, eros is initially the love felt for a person, but with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself.
In the case of Elder Porphryios we can think of both of these ideas. He is passionate in his love for Christ. He loves God with intensity, both as a person and also as an ideal for human kind. By his use of the word “eros” he puts the emphasis on the all consuming passion we must have for Christ.
In Greek Mythology Eros is the young son of Aphrodite depicted as a winged boy, considered to be both the most beautiful of the gods. When Eros falls in love with Psyche his radiance is such that for her own safety, he insists that she must never look upon his face, and he only visits her at night. Elder Porphyrios also sees Christ as the most beautiful of persons with a radiance that permeates all with his love and he received a radiance and gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are books filled with their testimonies to his holiness.
When you find Christ, you are satisfied, you desire nothing else, you find peace. You become a different person… Christ is in all your thoughts, in all your actions. You have grace and you can endure everything for Christ.
Saint Theophan the Recluse used the term “zeal” to express a similar thought to “eros”. He wrote,
The testimony of this life that is visible or can be felt within us is the ardor of active zeal to lease God alone in a Christian manner, with total self-sacrifice…
The Way of Love is an insatiable desire to be with our lover who is Christ alone.