The basic aspect of the material, physical world is its obedience to the law of causal necessity. Its essence lies in the fact that every action has an external cause, that is, if a stone flies through the air, it did not launch itself, but was thrown by an external agent.
Every day, the Sun rises, and every day is replaced by night, night by day; each day is filled with activities, and these arise one after another; every day, a person needs to go to work, and so forth. Everything proceeds in a seemingly unavoidable stream of causal necessity; meanwhile many say: “What can I do? I would like to go to church more often, but I have no time; I would pray regularly to God, but again, I have little time.” Thus it is for people who have joined this physical current of causal necessity.
We have become accustomed to the law of causal necessity and often refer to it for self-justification, even when there is no need. The first one to show us this poor example was our ancestor, Adam, who committed sin by violating the commandment of the Lord. When the Lord reproached him, yet gave him the opportunity to repent, he did not deem himself guilty, but immediately referred to the law of causal necessity: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” In this way we often emulate Adam; instead of admitting our guilt, we seek it to find it outside of ourselves: this happened to me because of this, or that, or for some other reason.
But man does not consist solely of a body, but of a soul, which has a spiritual foundation. One of the phenomena of the existence of the spirit is freedom. The spirit exists outside of the law of causal necessity. It is this spiritual freedom to which Holy Apostle Paul calls us: “For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty” (Galatians 5:13) This is why we must rise above this causal law of nature and moreover, resist it. Of course, we cannot change the course of the Sun, we cannot forbid the snow or the rain from falling, but this is not necessary, because the motions of nature are neutral to evil. But there is another chain of causes, that which draws us into sin. Within this causal chain are our passions, which draw us into this inescapable fleshly current. Man must resist this causal dependence, and this is the only path to spiritual freedom, and only in spiritual freedom can we experience Divine bliss and blessedness from contact with God.
We live within time and we must exploit it as much as we can for our salvation.
The future has no power over us, since it is unknown to us. When it becomes known, it moves to the category of the present.
The present stands before us and demands that we make decisions. Our challenge is to act in order that it work for good and for the salvation of our soul.
The past moves into the region of necessity: what has transpired, we cannot change, we cannot erase, and when the past is filled with sins, it serves as a special burden on the soul, and often determines the behavior of the person in the future. We cannot alter the past—that is a law of time. But the law of time is a physical law, while the spirit, as we said, does not submit to it, so in the spiritual plane, we can change the past. The Lord gives us this opportunity—the overcoming of the past, or better yet, the elimination of it—this occurs in the mystery of repentance. The mystery of repentance erases sins, and in this way, eliminates the occurrence of what is past. Earnest repentance severs the chain of sin which binds the past with the future, emancipating man from the burden of the past and grants him the opportunity to follow the path of virtue.
A miracle is the supreme manifestation of the victory of the spirit over physical causal necessity. And our Lord Jesus Christ showed us an example of this: He walked upon water, He healed the sick, He resurrected the dead. The mystery of repentance belongs to the class of such miracles, and the Lord grants this opportunity to each person.
“Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.” And so let us resist the sinful causal chain, severing it through repentance and through virtue partaking of spiritual freedom, and then Divine grace will perform in us another miracle—the salvation of our soul. Amen.