The duration of this period varies but it usually lasts for 3-4 years. It is a very blessed period of the life of the believer with which is opened the stage of ascetic struggle with powerful signs of the Presence of God and with his strengthening by His Power.
The divine grace searches the soul either unexpectedly or after a painful and insistent waiting of the soul which in the past remained fruitless and has no good results. Now the spiritual eyes of the soul are opened, which has the possibility to search the visible and often invisible spiritual world. This state may be defined as truly divine as during this time passions are not active and when the divine grace is present the ascesis of love is easy, painless and it is made with a great zeal.
The heartbeat is synchronized with the Jesus prayer. The prayer is powerful and it follows steadily its rhythm while the soul feels an inexpressible delight and doesn`t wish to interrupt for a moment this love and communication bond with God. The attacks and challenges of thoughts are almost inexistent and the soul lives an inexpressible bliss.
The soul experiences heaven from this life. He is in a pachal joy, in a pachal drunkenness. He lives and moves among the other men but his spiritual eye, meaning his mind is ceaselessly focused on God. A special attribute of the mind in this period is the ceaseless remembrance of God and the ceaseless prayer of the mind. The mind is purified of the passionate and sinful thoughts even of the mere worldly worries and is attached with an ardent longing of the image of Go and of the meditation at the divine meanings. There it reigns a profound peace of mind. In the soul are born nice thoughts pleasant for God which are somehow stored in the mind, ready to be brought into memory by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is the period when it takes place a powerful theological training and spiritual watering of the soul with the Grace of God, Who searches him like some cool frothing waves and bring him a feeling of spiritual refreshing.
The soul feels his fullness as he doesn`t lack the only necessary thing he had been seeking for so long.
It is noticed an intense thirst after God and the soul runs `as the deer at the water springs`, to meet the Beloved One. This period is dominated by the strong wish to study permanently the Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers and their Lives so no undesirable thought troubles the peace of the mind and and doesn`t separate him from the vision and contemplation of the invisible God. The heart nourishes itself with the Word of God. The words don`t focus on logic but enter deeply the heart. The soul feels a spiritual kinship with the Saints. This is the beginning of repentance and of the lamentation which brings joy. To certain men it is given from the start a great grace from God and the soul lives the experience of seeing God. A contemporary example of saint who received this priceless gift is saint Silouan the Athonite who is celebrated on 24th of September. In the first six months of his staying at the monastery as novice he saw the Lord. The apparition of the Lord to the novice represented undoubtedly the greatest event of his life which influenced decisively his ulterior evolution. In this case the second period which follows after and which we are describing below is more painful and with more intense feelings.
Elder Sophrony notices regarding this the following : `The first coming of the Grace deeply wounds the entire man and draws him towards the inner life, towards prayer and struggle against passions. It is a period rich in feelings of the heart and the soul gets filled with such powerful feelings that the entire mind is drawn towards sharing them.
Now it is the time when the soul knows God indefinitely as a Person. He lives a holy state when the soul experiences deification.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos says:
`It is impossible to describe this state in words. The experiencing of the uncreated grace can`t be enclosed in spoken words. Only the revived initiated and experienced man may understand this reality. During this period everything is new. He feels the presence of God as a personal one, he contemplates the meanings of the creatures from the entire creation. All are pure. The birds, the trees receive another dimension. He sees everything in the light of eternity of the work of the uncreated Grace and Light.
He stops being concerned by the problems of the daily life. He is not interested by the opinion of others about him. He despises any toil. His only preoccupation is prayer and the communion with God. It is a life of loving bonds. This love was born from the descent of Grace.
The Grace reveals now the blessed place of the heart, the supernatural core of the existence and of the psycho somatic powers. In this hidden place of the man`s heart it is revealed God.
This place is the Holy of holies of the mystical union of God with the man, the Temple which receives the Great Priest, Christ. It is the leading organ, the throne of Grace where are found the mind and all the thoughts of the soul.
In this blessed period the soul feels every day the loving embrace of God whom he perceives as Love and Eros.
This is the blessed fire ignited in the heart and which burns the passions, bringing an inexpressible spiritual delight and sweetness.
This fire is that one about which the Lord says : I have come to ignite a fire on the earth and how I wished it were already kindled!
Now there are developed other feelings, the spiritual ones, the feeling of the mind. The tear of repentance which is an offspring of the spiritual sight which reveals the whole debauchery of the heart and its apostasy from God is connected with the love of God and it doesn`t contain any element of pathology or despair. The tears wash the heart and delight it, comfort it. The whole in er world is unified.
Excerpt from Love taught by God– Saint Vlasios – Pilios, which is to be published at Evanghelismos.