Orthodox Eros, Jewish Compassion, and the Spiritual Master

Welcome to our first newsletter of this year, dear readers.

• We begin our monthly selection with an article on the deep understanding of marriage and love within the Christian Orthodox tradition, “Transfiguring Voluptuous Choice” by Fr Stephen Muse.

God is our true lover and this is why it is only through the call and response of being loved and loving that “He pursues, without fail and at all costs, the sighs of our hearts, which mean far more than any obligatory or formal asceticism. The spiritual life depends significantly on the character of these sighs.”

St Anne marriage icon
St Anne and St Joachim

• Further on a similar theme, we present a sermon by the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “Tzedek: Justice and Compassion”, explaining how inseparably intertwined the notions of justice and love are in Jewish scripture and exegesis.

Judaism is a religion of love: You shall love the Lord your God; you shall love your neighbour as yourself; you shall love the stranger. But it is also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts (who would not bend the rules, if he could, to favour those he loves?). It is also a religion of compassion, for without compassion law itself can generate inequity. Justice plus compassion equals tzedek, the first precondition of a decent society.

• And we complete our selection with a highly memorable chapter by Frithjof Schuon on the “Nature and Function of the Spiritual Master”, shedding light from different religious traditions on the key elements of a relation with a guide into the initiatic path and the inner life.

Every spiritual master is mysteriously assimilated, by his knowledge and his function and by the graces attaching to them, to his prototypes and—both through them and independently of them—to the primordial Prototype, the founding Avatara. On the level of this synthesis, it could even be added that there is but one sole Master, and that the various human supports are like emanations from him, comparable to the rays of the sun which communicate one self-same light and are nothing apart from it.