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Monday. [Gal. 4:28-5:10; Mark 6:54-7:8] The Lord rebukes the Pharisees not for their external routines and rules of conduct, but for partiality toward them — for limiting them?selves to external worship of God, with no concern for what was in the heart. It is impossible to be without externals. The highest internal things require the external as their expression and garment. In reality, internal things are never alone, but are always united with the outer; only in false theories are they sepa?rated. But again it is obvious that externals alone are nothing; their worth comes from the presence of the internal things contained in them. Thus, once the internal ceases to be, the external might as well not be there. Meanwhile, we have a weakness for outward appearances in which the internal is depicted and takes definite form, to such an extent that we are satisfied with ful?filling them alone, without even thinking that there might be inter?nal things. And since the internal is harder to attain than the external, it is quite natural to get stuck on the latter, not striving for the former. What can we do? We must govern ourselves and keep the internal things in mind, always pushing our?selves toward them through the externals, only considering a work to be real when the internal and ex?ternal are united in it. There is no other way. Attentiveness toward oneself, soberness, and vigilance are the only levers for raising up our nature which is fat and has a penchant for lowly things. Notice that those who possess the internal never abandon the external, though they consider it to be of no particu?lar value.
Saint Theophan the Recluse