Counsels from the Holy Mountain

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 11/3/2011, 15:12

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience

Selections on Obedience



5. For the grace of God to visit us, we must apply ourselves with absolute obedience to whatever we are taught. Let us not add our will to the will of the Elder, for this is called spiritual adultery. We must work at obedience with much sincerity, otherwise we shall not make any progress in our monastic journey. Humility is the virtue which helps wonderfully to apply perfect Christ-like obedience. On the contrary, egotism and pride are opposed to its acquisition.

6. It is extremely terrible, very dreadful, to press and compel your Elder to do something that you want but that his soul does not want. It is frightful. Only someone with personal experience knows this. Your spiritual Father and Elder is worth much more to you than all the people of the earth, even more than the whole universe! Only the devil knows better than anyone else what it means to have an Elder and to have perfect obedience to him.

7. Never examine what your Elder does or why he does this or that. Do not judge him, for you will become an antichrist! Never in your life tolerate others who speak against your Elder, but oppose them immediately; shield him; defend him. Christ makes straight the “crookedness” of the Elder’s human shortcomings and mistakes, on account of uncritical and guileless obedience.

8. It is a great achievement for Satan to persuade a disciple to hide his thoughts, to do anything without the permission and blessing of the Elder, and not to confess everything clearly to his spiritual father. Such a disciple will never make a good beginning and will never make progress in the grace of God, but will be dragged here and there until the wretched end of his life comes.


9. Obedience is of value only when the will is cut off with pain and labor; for passionate habits resemble thorny roots, and whoever wants to pull up such roots will naturally feel pain and be pricked, and his hands will bleed. The same thing also happens when uprooting evil habits for the sake of obedience to one’s spiritual father.

10. Do not grieve your Elder or your brother monk, for immediately your peace of soul stops, the Jesus prayer* ceases, and you are full of thoughts. The cure is: confession, burning tears, and sincerely forgiving others. Be careful; if you have something against your Elder, be careful, for the devil will crush you and mislead you easily. Put your thoughts in order, so that nothing will trouble you with regard to him.

*Jesus prayer (ευχή Ιησού )
The Jesus prayer is a short prayer which is continually repeated, usually consisting of the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”.


10. Τhe obedient person bears the fruit of meekness, for the Elder will cut off his will, rebuke him, and criticize him, and when the disciple is obedient, he acquires precious meekness. In a word, a good disciple acquires all the virtues when he is blindly obedient. If, however, he objects, quarrels, disobeys, is proud, etc., then he seriously injures his soul, for he grieves God, Who humbled Himself, whereas he, an earthly and wretched man, is proud.

11. The perfect disciple does not have to give an account when he passes through the toll-houses! He does not fear death, nor the demons, nor God, for he worships Him with burning zeal. The genuine disciple only fears disobedience to his Elder, who acts as a visible Christ for him. Disobedience to the Elder immediately exiles him from the paradise of the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who sweetens to the utmost the humble, dear soul of the disciple who is equal to the angels. The perfect disciple is an exact copy of our Christ, the God-man.


12. When a disciple obeys his own Elder for the sake of Christ, he fulfills all the commandments of Christ. Perfect obedience, without murmuring and thoughts of objection, may properly be compared to all the various struggles of applying all the Master’s commandments. The one who obeys for the love of God is loved by God, and the entire Holy Trinity dwells within this good disciple. What grandeur this thrice-blessed obedience hides! It enables the humble, insignificant, little, obscure disciple, to become the abode of the Holy Trinity; it renders him a fulfiller of all of Christ’s commandments and leads him into paradise, so that he walks about in the midst of the saints with a double crown and with a divine necklace around his neck.



14. What wondrous freedom is granted to one who completely cuts off his own self-will! How much rest the soul of the struggling combatant (i.e., the disciple ) finds when he does not have his own will, but only that of his Elder! This blessed disciple leads a spiritually comfortable life, full of joy and hope. He lives most peacefully, wonderfully, with the assurance that since he gives rest to his Elder, he himself will also be given rest in paradise, through his prayers. Blessed and thrice-blessed is the disciple who has cut off his ruinous self-will in everything and confesses everything to his spiritual father. Such a person becomes completely healthy spiritually here, and will shine among the angels as an angel of God before the dread throne of God.

15. Rejoice, therefore, O warrior disciple, imitator of the Great Disciple, “Who became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:8-9 ). As for you, He will exalt you above the passions and will honor you with dispassion and with His love. Struggle, therefore, through denial of your self-will, fulfilling for the sake of Christ the counsels of him who sponsored you in the Lord when you promised to God perfect obedience unto death. O obedience, salvation of all the faithfull! O obedience, mother of all the virtues! O obedience, that opens heaven and raises men up from earth! O obedience, nurturer of all the saints, by which they were suckled and through which they were perfected! O obedience, companion of Angels!



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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 13/3/2011, 04:29

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience




Οn Reverence and Love for the Elder.

Skillfully and diligently maintain your faith and love for your spiritual guide, for herein lies the life and death of the soul. Do not grieve your father in Christ, if you desire to behold the face of God. He who grieves him should know that he grieves Christ. So then, how will he behold Christ when he dies?


2. Never permit the enemy to attack you with evil thoughts against your Elder, for such thoughts are serpents filled with venom. Be as one with your Elder. Listen to him as though his words were spoken by Christ. Love, reverence, and perfect obedience to the Elder please him. By pleasing the Elder, you pleased God; whatever you do to the Elder, you do to God.


3. It injures a disciple fatally when he does not reveal all his thoughts frankly and sincerely to his Elder. Just as a sick person is not healed when he does not disclose to the physician how his wound or sickness is, but the pain and fever continue, in the same way also a disciple is not healed when he does not reveal the wounds of his soul to his spiritual physician. It is his ego that prevents him from revealing to his Elder his ailments. Therefore, my children, let us trample this dragon underfoot and slay it with the sword of sacred confession and by taking the spiritual medicines which the spiritual physician, the Elder, gives us for our healing.

4. Let us be vigilant, my children, and let us compel ourselves—what are we waiting for? The end is approaching and we shall be troubled. What will help us then? Forcefulness in our duties now, the acquisition of virtues, and especially spiritual unity with our spiritual parents by a life which is pleasing to them are what will help us in that great need. If we are spiritually separated from our spiritual father because we disobey and criticize him, how will we be fortified against the demons at the hour of death? Without the protection of his holy prayers, how will we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself? When we ascend and meet the aerial toll-houses,
Whose prayers will deliver us? The elder’s? But they have departed from us because we grieved him in this life and so they have no power in our hour of need. Therefore, my children, let us take care to live according to the will of God in order to please Him, so that He may give us repose in His bosom eternally.

5. Your issue, my child, is primarily an issue regarding the elder. I have told you many times that the devil greatly fears elders, and that faith and love towards them is the greatest security for everyone who submits to them for the love of God. But whoever errs in his obedience to the elder immediately loses their protection, and his destruction begins. Since the devil knows this, he immediately begins the warfare with thoughts against the Elders, trying to exaggerate their weaknesses to such a degree as to convince the disciple that no benefit will come from them, that they are not in good standing, etc. And once the devil persuades him, he wins him. However, when he finds him with firm foundations, he leaves and opens another front. Rarely is a disciple spared from this type of warfare.

6. (The Elder writes to a nun )My daughter, have love and reverence for the abbess. Who does not have weaknesses? We are all guilty on account of our passions. But this is one thing and your obligation to your spiritual mother is another. See her as the face of Christ! And the trust you have in her will be counted as trust in God. I do not want you to pretend; I dearly love sincerity and honesty—this is also how I want my children to be. Always confess truly, listen to her counsels, and have faith in whatever the abbess says to you. If you do not accept with faith what she says, the result will be that you will criticize and become alienated and remote. This is unbecoming for you as a nun, under the protection of an abbess. It is not proper to criticize or become alienated towards any person, especially our spiritual mother. Struggle to love her and to see her as the face of Christ, and then, in accordance with your faith, you will reap the corresponding benefit. Do this and you will see the truth. Now, during Great Lent, I want you to be especially forceful in your spiritual struggles. Be silent internally and externally. Remember death continuously and without flagging; the benefit from this meditation is enormous. Say the beloved little prayer. Compel yourself to be united more and more closely to your Eldress and never allow your thoughts to judge her, for this is characterized by the Fathers as a serious burn or poisoning. Be on guard lest you fall away from the Eldress, for then every good struggle of yours will be paralyzed.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 14/3/2011, 00:55

Chapter Six
On Remembrance of Death, Hell, and Judgment


The older I grow, the more I perceive the instability, the vanity of earthly things. Oh, why do we trouble ourselves in vain? Our life is short—dust, ashes, a dream—and in a little while, we shall taste corruption. Today you have your health, and tomorrow you lose it; today you are laughing, and tomorrow you are sullen. Now your eyes are shedding tears from an abundance of joy, and soon they will be shedding tears from pain and grief; today the economy is stable, and tomorrow misfortune strikes; today you receive good news, and in a little while bad news replaces it. In vain we trouble ourselves; life is a shadow and a dream. Where are our parents, our siblings, our grandparents? The tomb has received them all; they have all decayed and have been eaten by worms. The tomb and decay awaits us also! Ah, ah, death—bitter is your remembrance. Our Christ has given us the power to become sons of God (cf. Jn. 1:12 ) by arming us with so many divine weapons to fight our relentless enemy. But we –and I, above all—become prisoners of our enemy by neglecting the weapons Christ gave us, and as we approach death we tremble in agony and try by every means to prolong our life, because the soul is afraid to leave the body. Why is it afraid? Why does it not take courage as a child of God? Is it going perhaps to a foreign king? But the king is its Maker, its Savior, Who shed His blood in order to redeem our soul from its enemy. Why then does it fear and lack courage? Death is inherently cold—“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Mt. 26:38 ), said our Jesus. Yes, death is cold by nature. But unfortunately, most of the fear comes from the conscience: the conscience does not assure the soul that it has lived properly; it has not put itself in order; it has not washed its wedding garment, and so it is ashamed to present itself to the King, thinking about what the verdict will be: yes or no? Will I be saved or not? If, however, the soul leaves without having confessed and without having repented completely, then woe—this is the evil day which the prophet Jeremiah hints at (vid. Jer. 17:17 ). Let us pray that our holy God will deliver us from this by giving us complete repentance, worthy works of repentance, works of mercy and love, and a spirit of repentance with true humility, so that the just Judge may be merciful towards us, so that when the fearful hour of death comes, the soul will take courage in the mercy of God and say, “I trust in God, that He will have mercy on my lowliness”. Amen; so be it.



2. The years roll by and pass, and day by day each one of us draws closer and closer to the end of this life. Our precious time rolls by and disappears before our eyes, without our realizing, of course, what is escaping us unnoticed. For if the little child knew the worth of gold, he would not prefer to have a cheap candy instead. Doesn’t this also hold true for people, and above all for me? When our Lord comes at the appointed time to judge the world; when the heavens are rolled up like a piece of paper, and the earth, which has been thoroughly defiled by those dwelling upon it, is renewed; when the sun, the moon, and the stars fall like autumn leaves; when the trumpet resounds throughout the entire world, and the scattered dry bones are reconstructed and flesh and life come upon them (vid. EZ. 37:1-14 ); when the ranks of the angels will gather in the vastness of heaven in honor of the fearful Judge Who is to come; when small clouds rise up from the infinite multitude of resurrected people and lift upon themselves the holy and saved people to meet the Lord in the air—then those who have remained below and see all these things will weep most bitterly and beat their breasts in despair, reflecting that they wasted their precious time here in pleasures, in drunkenness, in acquiring wealth, in illicit deeds, in avarice, and in every sin, which now condemn them to this most pitiful and lamentable condition of theirs. Will they not pathetically seek to have a little time to run to the poor, to the sick, and to every destitute person, so that they also might hear the sweet voice of the Lord saying to them, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you… for I was hungry and you gave Me food… I was naked and you clothed Me, etc.”? (Mt. 25:34-36 ). At some time in their lives they heard these things. However, in Hades there is no repentance. For this reason, the utmost despair will seize them. They will seek death; they will have a burning desire for it to deliver them from their boundless sufferings, but unfortunately they will not find it, for everything will have already been transformed into immortality! (All this holds true for me….).



3. Man comes into the light of this world crying, he passes his life in weeping and sorrows, and he leaves the world in tears and pain. O vanity of vanities! The dream vanishes, and man awakens into the reality of the true life. No one notices how this vain life flows by—the years pass, the months roll by, the hours disappear, the moments slip by imperceptibly, and then without any warning, the telegram comes: “Put your house in order, for you will die; you will live no longer!” (Is. 38:1 ). Then the deception is uncovered, and a person dying realizes what an important role the world played for him. He feels regret and distress; he yearns for the time that is gone; he would give all his wealth to buy one day in order to repent and receive communion. Unfortunately, though, not one favor is given to him. Previously, time was at his disposal for years; he, however, wasted it in business, in bars, in cinemas, and in every shameful desire. Wise is the merchant who realized the deceit of this temporal life, became wise, and sent his merchandise to heaven before the fair of life ended, in order to find it there in the treasuries of the heavenly city of God with accrued interest and dividends. Blessed is that wise man, for he will live the painless and blessed life unto the ages of ages, while the unwise, the drunkards, the greedy, the lovers of money, the lewd, the murderers, and the rest of my fellow-sinners—of whom I am the first—will be thrown into the furnace of unquenchable fire! Now that the sun is shining and the day casts its sweet light upon us, let us walk quickly along the road of our correction, before the night of the future afterlife overtakes us, at which time we shall no longer be able to walk. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2 ), cries the Apostle Paul in his immortal words.


4. Oh, how much the memory of death should flourish in the soul of the Christian! Since he believes in the real truth, it is impossible for him to ignore death. After my Elder’s heart condition had passed, he wept and recited a line from the funeral service: “Alas, what a struggle the soul has as it parts from the body!” Indeed, this is the truth! How beautifully the psalmist expresses what peace a prepared soul has: “I prepared myself and was not troubled” (Ps. 118:60 ). At any moment, every soul can expect the telegram from heaven to break off all relations with earthly things, to seal the time of this “fair”, to render an exact account of his spiritual trading, and to seal his eternal fate either in the heights of heaven or the depths of hell. Ah, when I reflect upon this, what can I say! May the all-compassionate God be merciful to my wretched soul, which has nothing but its indifference and unreadiness. My mind stops when it contemplates this absolute truth about salvation. “Eternity” –oh, what a great mystery! The world, the flesh, and the devil lead us astray and throw us into forgetfulness—and suddenly a voice is heard: “Behold, the Bridegroom comes!” When we are breathing our last, what preparation can we make then, when our conscience has already been cauterized and can no longer feel anything or cry out to us? Then the voice of truth is heard: “Only when the sun was setting did you remember God; what were you doing all day long when the sun was shining?” “Watch and be ready” (cf. Mt. 24:43,44 ), cries our Jesus! Blessed are those who have ears to hear, who hear and get ready, for they will be counted worthy of eternal happiness. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord will find ready when He comes, for they will rejoice eternally. Let us patiently endure the sorrows of life, that we may attain the eternal things full of joy. “In vain does every mortal trouble himself; as soon as we conquer the world, we dwell, in the tomb” (from the funeral service ). As long as there is light, let us walk towards our great destination, for the hour is coming when there will be darkness, and then we shall no longer be able to work for our soul.

5. Raise your mind to the dread judgment seat of Christ—what defence shall we give on the day of judgment when our deeds are judged? How frightening is the hour in which the soul waits full of fear to hear the decision regarding where it will go to dwell eternally! The word “eternity” is frightful! To understand in part what eternity means, I shall give you an example. Imagine that the whole earth is one big piece of granite, and every thousand years a bird comes to sharpen its beak on this rock. When the entire rock is worn away by the bird sharpening its beak, then we shall have some faint notion of what eternity means—not that we have actually understood eternity, immortality, or life without end! So this life of ours here on earth determines our eternity, like flipping a coin: paradise or hell! Therefore, how much caution must we have!

6. You were patient for so many years, and they passed like a dream. But even if we lived a thousand years, they would still pass like a dream. Oh, how vain is everything that belongs to this world here! Every life is followed by death. Death is man’s transfer from this world to the other—the one that is immortal and eternal. It is not important if someone loses this life here. One way or another, we shall all die someday anyway. The important thing is not to lose our immortal life, the life without end. Endless life in hell—oh, what a fearful thing! My God, save us all.

7. When God brings the new day, let us think that it is our last day and that when the sun sets we shall depart to the judgment seat of Christ. How should we spend our last day? In silence, prayer, obedience, tears, and repentance, begging God to be mercifull! Likewise at night, we should think that it is our last night, and our bed will be our tomb! Each one of us should think, “Ah, how will I pass through the toll-houses? I wonder, will I pass through them? Who knows which one will stop me? How will I look at the fearful face of the just Judge? How will I hear His frightful voice of reproof? What terror will seize me until I hear the eternal decision regarding where I shall be placed! And what if I am sent to hell—and justly so! Woe to my wretched soul! How will I be patient as I am punished with the demons in the darkness, in the filth, with no light, with no consolation at all—only the sight of demons and nothing else!” We should ponder these and many other things every day and night, living them as if they were our last! For we do not know when the telegram will come from God’s headquarters, from the capital, the Jerusalem above.

8. Be careful, my child; do not let time pass fruitlessly and without improvement in your soul, for death comes like a thief. Woe to us if it finds us in a state of sloth and laziness—then the mountains and hills will need to weep for us; then we shall be found empty of good works, and Hades will shepherd us eternally! My child, why should we suffer such a lamentable shipwreck when we are able, with God’s help, to avoid it and be rescued at the saving harbor of the kingdom of God! I know that we have to wrestle with formidable enemies and that the labor is great. But with God—that is, with the power of God—everything gives way when man’s will and strength cooperate with it.

9. When you are sitting in your cell, keep your mind meditating on death. Don’t let your mind wander here and there, but collect your thoughts and reflect: see the mortality of your body; see how the body chills, changes, and the soul departs from it. What a struggle the soul has as it departs from the body! How much it weeps then; how much it sighs; how great is the regret! “It turns its eyes to the angels, but its entreaties are to no avail. It stretches out its hands to men but finds no helper” (from the funeral service ). Meditate on the soul’s ascent after it departs. When it ascends and encounters the hordes of evil demons, it trembles as they reveal sins it had committed but had completely forgotten, and wonders what will happen. It ascends from one toll-house to the next, and at every toll-house it only gives a defense, until it passes them all. If it passes all of them and is not found guilty at any of the toll-houses, it then ascends to venerate Christ, according to the Fathers. If, however, it is found guilty and accountable for any passion, it is thrown into Hades! There was one soul that had passed all except one, the last one, which is the toll-house of mercilessness. “Alas, alas!” said a certain saint who was having a vision of that soul. “He passed them all, and only at the last one was he shaken, and the demons flung him into Hades with a crash!” There was another saved soul being carried up by the angels of God into heaven. Other angels, who had just taken another soul to heaven descended and embraced that soul, and he sensed an ineffable fragrance from the embrace of those angels who had approached the throne of God. And the angels said, “Glory to God, Who helped this soul to be saved!” We should never lack this contemplation of death or other such meditations. All these contemplations create watchfulness in the soul and purify and cleanse the mind so that it may feel the contemplation better. This contemplation is a barrier for evil thoughts. When this spiritual contemplation is within us, we shut out evil thoughts; there is no room in us for them because that contemplation has occupied the space of the mind. When we do not have godly contemplations, then indeed we are overcome by passionate contemplations. If the soul does pass the aerial toll-houses, it should think, “Now all that is left is to venerate God. I wonder, how will I get there? In what way will I see Him? I wonder what He will say to me? Will He perhaps open a new book? Perhaps the demons with their incomplete knowledge did not have everything written or did not know everything I have done, and now I have to complete my defense before Christ! I wonder, what will Christ’s decision be for my eternity? I wonder, will it be for eternal life or eternal damnation?”
If at this very moment we found ourselves before Christ, what fear and trembling we would have! If we could only understand, as much as possible through contemplation, what situation we shall find ourselves in then! “Alas, alas!” say the Fathers. “How much suffering will come upon us? What awaits us?” yet we shun struggling; we are indifferent and drowsy, and we sleep the heavy slumber of ignorance! The world is far from the truth. People work, sleep, travel overseas—without realizing what is about to happen beyond the grave! A thick darkness covers the truth, just as a thick cloud obstructs the sun’s light. If a person contemplates and comes to grip with the fact that this life is like an ephemeral theater where people waste time by dancing and having fun, he would realize the tremendous insanity and foolishness of men and the great achievement of the demons. There are two different ways of thinking: worldly people think of things before the grave, and we think of things after the grave! Worldly people think about present things; that is all that they see, and that is what they believe in. but the revelation of the gospel of Christ cast abundant light into the souls that want to be saved. It opens to them a new horizon of awareness of the true God. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18 ) There will be unlimited, incomprehensible, inconceivable glory for those who will walk in the light of Christ! We have no excuse before God because of His great benefactions: He has called us with a holy calling and shown us the road of light and truth! Great is the mercy of God! Let us not disregard it. Let us work at it. Let us reflect day and night upon our soul and how we should struggle. Meditating on God and practicing the virtues bring us close to God quickly. We should never at any time stop remembering death. The Holy Fathers said that they were not overcome by negligence in their cells, because they had the remembrance of death night and day. Negligence found no room in them. The Fathers kept thinking, “If today or tomorrow is my last day, what should I do?” In this way, this remembrance kept their mind in the fear of God, and the fear of God gave light to their conscience regarding how to compel themselves. In the beginning, of course, these thoughts do not make an impression on the person. His soul is, so to speak, dead—sluggish. But gradually, it begins to stir within him; it starts coming to life, and then it works normally.


10. Τake care of your soul, my child. Read the Fathers; pray with the beloved little prayer, which will fortify the foundation of your soul. Meditate on death, which is something that will most definitely come to us. Ah, death! The cup of death is extremely bitter for the soul when it powerfully separates the soul from the body. How much regret we shall feel then for everything we have done out of carelessness and laziness! Our conscience will torment us as a foretaste of hell. So why should we let the pleasure of sin defeat us, for which we shall pay with much pain and no cure? Man, with a dual nature, the elect and unique creation of God, is born on this planet, the earth, and gradually he dies physically some day, completely incapable of keeping himself alive. Conceit blows him up like a balloon, only to die because of just one illness. He has no power over himself. Without realizing it, he is governed by another’s will and command, while he is led away involuntarily, completely helpless to resist. What are you, O man, that you boast and brag, imagining outrageous things about yourself? Behold, an invisible microbe attacks you, and at once you feel ill, fall sick, and go to your grave. O conceited mortal, you see that death is coming and that you will depart to an unknown land and yield to it with no ability to object. Are you able to refuse, to resist, to escape what is going to happen to you at that fearsome hour? Not at all! Total helplessness. Then why do you boast, O man of clay, you helpless, wretched, useless one? What do you own that God has not given you? Can’t He take it from you whenever He wants? Yes. Then bend your neck, humble yourself, and thus you will be saved.



11. Righteous Lot was afflicted night and day, living amidst profligate and licentious people. He was oppressed, seeing their shameful acts. Nevertheless, he didn’t judge any of them, which is why he was counted worthy of the divine appearance of the angels and was considered worthy to be spared when God burned down the cities of the wicked and destroyed the licentious. Aren’t things here worse than Sodom and Gomorrah? Shouldn’t we expect the fire and brimstone of God’s wrath? Therefore, let us pay heed to Lot’s example so that we may not also be destroyed—not temporally, as of old, but eternally and endlessly! Let us be vigilant, for we do not know in what hour the thief—death—is coming. Let us be watchful in order to guard our riches—not only the riches of our Orthodox faith, but also of the grace we were counted worthy of when we were baptized in the holy baptismal font. What will come more certainly than death? It is the most certain thing that every person will encounter. We ought to keep the remembrance of death alive within us constantly, so that through this most saving remembrance, we may avoid the soul’s death, which is nothing but complete separation from God in the afterlife. Violently compel yourselves, says the Lord in the gospel (cf. Mt. 11:12 ), for you do not know when the Bridegroom of your soul will visit you, and woe to him whom He finds indolent and neglectful of his salvation. Pray also for me, for I do not practice what I preach. Woe to me the thrice-wretched! With what face will God look at me?


12. Take a look at death, my child, which reaps everyone. All human things melt and burn out like a candle. Only godly works—that is, whatever works were done for the love of God—will never burn out, but will shine for a person so that he may ascend the path to reach the throne of God. Work the deeds of salvation, even if it takes great effort. Everything will be counted as a struggle, as ascesis, and as resistance to the devil, and your due reward will be definitely given to you. Compel yourself. Bear in mind your departure, your death, the toll-houses, and the fearsome judgment of God. Think about hell and the damned, my child. Count yourself as one of them also, and then all your sorrows will seem like nothing to you, and a sweet consolation will come upon your entire soul.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 15/3/2011, 15:33

Chapter Six
On Remembrance of Death, Hell, and Judgment



13. My child, you should reflect upon the uncertainty of the time of your death and the demons and the terrifying toll-houses that our lowly souls will pass through! What a fearsome tribunal awaits them! Our souls will tremble out of fear and terror! Meditate on the painful torture together with the demons; alas, it is eternal with no end or termination! Unfortunately, my child, the evil one takes all these salvific recollections from us so that we are not benefited, and he brings us all the evil recollections in order to defile our soul. Since we know his tricks, let us compel ourselves to say the most holy Jesus prayer and to contemplate spiritual meditations which are so beneficial, so that our soul may be continually benefited and purified.

14. The remembrance of hell should always be in your mind, for it has much fruit within it. Who can remember eternal fire and remain without tears? Weep, my child, so that your heart and body may be cleansed of every passion, and that you may see days of holiness and be astonished by your wealth of purity.

15. How frightening is the question of where each person’s soul will end up! Oh, how much do forgetfulness and indolence lead us astray—and me, first! If we think about it, it is terrifying to ponder whether we shall achieve our goal or not. Man’s entire being is overcome by trembling when he carefully considers what will happen in the end! What judgment will be for me, who has been conceived in iniquities? (cf. Ps. 50:5 ). Be merciful, be merciful upon me, my sweetest Jesus! Upon Thy compassions I cast my soul’s despair.

16. May your prayers support the crumbling house of my wretched soul. There is nothing good in me. That is why I weep, calling to mind the things that will happen when I depart from this world and make the journey above without having the necessary provisions. Woe is me, for though I am now able to store them up, my negligence will bring about my eternal regret! But isn’t this the truth! Oh, how precious this present time is—every moment is priceless. Yet this sound knowledge escapes us, and thus our precious time passes, and it is impossible to reclaim it.

17. Oh, at that time the internal judge—each person’s conscience—will rise with a bold and powerful voice either to condemn or acquit him. “If our conscience does not accuse us, we have boldness towards God”. As long as we are on the road of life, how necessary it is to reconcile ourselves with our adversary (cf. Mt. 5:25 )—our conscience—before it leads us to the judge, and then we shall not escape until we pay the last penny by giving an account for every idle word (cf. Mt. 12:36 ). Oh, what is going to happen in the end? How much toil and dread! Blessed are those who have the eyes of their soul open and prepare the provisions for the great journey, and woe to me whose eyes have been shut by the two great evils of mankind—forgetfulness and ignorance!

18. Oh, how watchfull we must be in all things (cf. 2 Tim.4:5 ), for the adversary walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour the universe! (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8 ). O God, my God! Arise! Why do you rest and sleep, my soul? Hour by hour we wait for the sound of the trumpet and to be brought to judgment! Woe is me! How horrifying that moment is, for our eternal life depends on it: either in God or in hell! Let us sigh a little, and behold, God becomes merciful. He knows that we have nothing left that is healthy in His eyes; we are full of weaknesses, passions, and excuses. How will we meet God? I wonder, what will He tell us? How much exactitude will He demand from us, who do not want to apply such exactitude to ourselves, because it conflicts with our desires?


19. Always remember death; meditating on it should become a rule of life for you. What a struggle the soul has when it separates from the body, when the books are opened and people’s hidden deeds revealed! How much it sighs then, how much it weeps, but it has no help except from good deeds it has done! Therefore, struggle in good and beneficial works now that you have the breath of life, for an hour is coming when our members will stop working the deeds of salvation! Weep bitterly if you want to find consolation in the distressing hour of death. Bear in mind the dreadful tribunal. Oh, what a fearsome hour awaits the poor soul, when it hears the decision for its eternal restoration! Even the saints feared this hour; how much more so should we! What can I, the wretched one, say? I moan bitterly when I remember it. You should also do so, and you will find great benefit.

20. The truth of God sounds forth like a mighty trumpet and says, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!” (Eccl. 1:2 ). “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37 ). “Remember your end and you shall not sin unto the ages” (Ecclesiasticus –Wisdom of Sirach—7:36 ). “Riches do not remain, glory does not accompany one to the other world, for when death comes, all these things are obliterated” (from the funeral service ). Behold the truth, which mightily crushes the lie! Within every trap and thought of the devil, a lie is camouflaged to deceive man. Therefore, let us pray that God will enlighten us with the light of truth, so that the darkness may be dispersed, and the bright day of triumph and the glorious truth may shine in all our thoughts, words, and deeds, so that as good stewards of grace we may be counted worthy of praise before the holy angels. When will this be? When we shall no longer be in danger of falling into pride; for the devil has the power to fight us until our final breath. After this is the age of trophies, crowns, and the acquisition of God—the end of fear and tears. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17 ). Oh, what glory! Then no one will be able to take away the joy from the hearts of the saved. O my Jesus, glory to Thy dominion, glory to Thine inexpressible dispensation, O Master! Amen, amen, amen, sweetest Master. I kiss Thine immaculate feet that toiled and ran to find me, the lost sheep. Heal me wounds, O Master.

21. I pray that the grace of the Comforter will bring peace to your soul. My child, I have already found complete peace, only by the grace of God. I feel myself as light as air. After sunset, I remain by myself in my little cell. I try to collect my nous and lead it within myself and into Christ. I usually weep for my many sins. I think about what awaits me, heavily laden as I am, at the impartial judgment when my mouth will be silenced, not having any excuse, for I know that I have done nothing truly good, nor will I ever in my whole life. My beloved child in Christ, what will become of me? Woe to me, a prey of the eternal fire! I tremble, contemplating eternal damnation and the deprivation of the divine light! How will I, the wretched one, live without Christ and light?


22. When we remember death, we find an excellent guide that helps us discover the truth of things. Death says, “Why are you treasuring things up, why are you proud, why do you boast, O youth, O health, O science? When I come, I will render you your worth! When you are laid in the dark grave, you will know what the profit of earthly good things is!” We are departing to the world that transcends the senses, my children. We do not stay in this world which is full of bitterness, distress, sin, and miseries. There in the unfading life, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of the saved, and there will be no pain, grief, or sighing, but an eternal day, a life without end or death! This is the life, my children, that we should long for wholeheartedly and fervently, so that by God’s grace we may acquire it and be delivered from painful hell.
23. Everything in this vain world will pass. The world and life are a fair, and each person can buy eternal life with the “money” of his life. How wise is the person who spends his money—his life—buying whatever he will need for the hour of death and the tribunal of God! Let us buy precious things that are pleasing to the great King: confession, humility, purity of soul and body from carnal sins, godly love, and keeping ourselves far from criticizing others, idle talk, lying, etc. When we master all this, we shall be wealthy in God’s blessed land.

24. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2 ) in this world, my child. This is what the wise Solomon cried out after he had tasted beyond satiety all the pleasures of the senses. He did not deprive his heart of any of the pleasures, and the end of all this was decay and destruction. On the contrary, he who works for God not only is not deprived of the necessities of life here, but also feels the true joy and peace of God already in this life. Riches do not remain; glory does not accompany one to the other world; beauty changes; youth passes and old age comes; health fades; illness follows, and the grave disintegrates everything into nothing. When we visit our final dwelling, our grave, we shall see with our own eyes all the vanity of man, as did Abba Sisoes when he saw the tomb of Alexander the Great and cried out, “Alas, alas, O death! The entire world was not big enough for you, Alexander. How then have you fit into two meters of earth now?” There in the tomb the dreams of vain pleasures are sealed. Whatever preoccupied many people with love and sacrifices is trampled underfoot there. In the tomb, the souls that realized the world’s deceit triumphantly ridicule it. My child, be careful with this world which is like a theater. For poor and ignoble people on stage in the theater wear the clothes of kings, tycoons, etc., and appear to be different from what they really are and fool the audience. But when the show is over and they take off their masks, then their true faces are revealed.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 17/3/2011, 14:36

Chapter Seven

On Passions


Struggle, my child, for God’s road is narrow and thorny; not inherently, but because of our passions. Since we want to eradicate from our heart the passions, which are like thorny roots, so that we may plant useful plants, naturally we shall toil greatly and our hands will bleed and our face will sweat. Sometimes even despair will overcome us, seeing roots and passions everywhere! But with our hope in Christ, the Repairer of our souls, let us diligently work at clearing the earth of our heart. Patience, mourning, humility, obedience, cutting off one’s will—all these virtues help cultivate it. We must apply all our strength, and then God, seeing our labor, comes and blesses it, and thus we make progress. Take courage, for the toil is temporary and ephemeral, whereas the reward is great in heaven. Struggle and be vigilant with your thoughts. Keep a firm hold on hope, for this shows that your house is founded on the rock—and the rock is our Christ.

2. Do not feed your passions by yielding to them, so that you do not suffer pain and affliction later! Labor now, as much as you can, because otherwise, if the passions are not tended to, in time they become second nature, and then try and deal with them! Whereas now, if you fight against them lawfully, as we advise you, you will be freed and will have happiness by the grace of God.

3. The thing that should preoccupy us above all is how to cleanse our heart from the passions and how to abate some passion or vice! The visitations of grace that God sends us from time to time for consolation do not play an important role, because they come and go. Ah, those passions! They are like roots with thorns. How much toil, how much pain, what tears, what prayers are necessary for a person to find slight relief—it is a real martyrdom!

4. I pray to the merciful God that He will show you the path of salvation and guide you as a hart to the springs of the living water of refreshment. Man is full of passions, shortcomings, etc., and in order to be freed of them, he must engage in a bloody battle. Once he wins, with God’s help, he will receive here in this life the promise of the future marriage with the Lamb, Who was ruthlessly slaughtered by cruel hands accursed by God.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 18/3/2011, 12:11


Chapter Seven.

On Carnal Warfare.

You wrote to me, my child, about your carnal warfare. Be patient—with the grace of God everything will pass. Nothing will be left of it, as long as you struggle. Whatever fights against you will be short-lived if you oppose it valiantly. Carnal warfare will accompany you throughout your youth. But according to your struggle it will subside and become tolerable. The passion of pride, however, will continue for a long time, beyond your youth. But you will find some rest from this passion for a while according to the struggle and spiritual knowledge with which you resist. These two passions are the strongest of all. Upon these two passions the entire edifice of sin stands; each one is a component of the other. Both are formidable lions. But our Jesus with a single cheerful glance is able to render them carrion for the vultures.


2. The terrible passion of fornication is difficult to fight against, especially when it is strengthened by former predispositions*. But God knows how to deliver those who take refuge in Him with humility, for He knows how easily our nature slips.

*Predisposition (πρόληψις )
Predisposition is “the involuntary presence of former sins in the memory” according to St. Mark the Ascetic. This state is caused by repeated sinful acts which predispose a person to yield to particular temptations. Even though in principle he retains free choice and can reject provocations from the demons, in practice the force of habit makes it progressively harder for him to resist.

3. My child, you wrote about your carnal warfare. Know that it stems from pride—so that you may humble yourself and learn that if grace leaves us, we fall and become a piteous spectacle. So humble yourself; blame yourself; ask our Panagia to grant you a spirit of humility so that you may come to know and feel that you are nothing, a zero. For our Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5 ). From the temptation that came upon you, learn how man falls—and how low he can fall. There are even worse falls for those who have more pride. Do not be distressed; it is a temptation and it will pass. God permits such things to happen for our benefit so that we may become wise through temptations. Be patient and brave! Take courage; it will pass. It is a storm, and in this way will the sea throw out all the rubbish that the preceding peace accumulated! Do not grieve more than necessary, for this is from the devil, and this grief will lead you to negligence and laxity. Persist in your struggle and do not be afraid. Disregard Satan and show that you do not attach any importance to him. Then, since he is proud, he will leave, but as long as you pay attention to his attacks, he will not.

4. When you have carnal warfare, be very careful with filthy fantasies, which produce dirty thoughts. Stop and expel fantasies as soon as they come. Immediately say the prayer with pain of soul and at once will be delivered from the warfare.

5. Do not lose heart, my child. It is a battle and it will pass. All the saints were fought against. They had such great warfare that they took poisonous snakes in despair and put them on their bodies so that they would be bitten and die. But since we are weak, God does not allow us to be fought beyond our strength, but instead He will help us. However, since we have pride, He permits this warfare so that we may humble ourselves. Do not grieve more than necessary, but with great humility throw yourself before God and blame yourself. Immediately drive away every evil thought as soon as it comes, and I hope that the grace of God will relieve you. Do not fear; you will suffer no harm. Drive away cowardice; have courage. Everything will pass, as you will see, while this warfare will leave behind much benefit for you, and God will give you much grace. Just do not lose heart, because this is how we lose the contest.

6. (From the Holy Mountain, June 30, 1958 )My beloved brother in Christ, I receive your letter and saw the mental warfare you are going through with the evil spirit of sin, of fornication. My brother, listen to a pauper in knowledge with a soul bereft of any good. When one struggles against sin with humility and the fear of God, with fervent spiritual work and with the guidance of an experienced spiritual father, God will never let him be lost. Only when he neglects his spiritual duties, and especially when he becomes proud, thinking that he is something, then it is possible for him to slip. But even then, if he seeks forgiveness with humility, he gets up again and is healed again. For the Lord’s mercy is near to those of a contrite heart. However, many trials occur for one to gain experience and spiritual wisdom, for without temptations it is impossible to obtain experience. Experience is not a skill derived from learning, but it is to have practical knowledge of the benefit and harm of temptations. If God does not let a person fall into temptations a little, it is impossible for him to become conscientious. When someone does something with good intentions, yet later it turns out that what he did was not right, God—since He observes the heart and tries the purpose for every deed—will bring things back to normal and will enlighten him to realize what he should have done. Infallibility belongs to God alone. No matter how perfect the saints were, they still had some blemishes. Therefore, they would go through temptations to obtain greater humility and caution, and to grow patient with their weak nature. A touch of anger, laughter, or idle talk does not take away a saint’s holiness. Only one must keep in mind not to despair. Even if one slips and sins ten thousand times a day, it is not justifiable in God’s eyes for him to despair, but rather he should be hopeful and prepare for a fight, until God’s mercy comes and delivers him. There was once a monk who happened to slip and sin by himself continually, yet he would always arise at once and do his prayer rule. The demon that kept throwing him into sin lost his patience seeing the courage and hopefulness of this brother. So he visibly appeared to him, and said to him with vexation: “Don’t you fear God, you defiled wretch? You have just sinned, so with what face can you now stand before God? Aren’t you afraid that God will burn you?” But since this brother had a valiant soul, he said to the demon: “This cell is a forge: you hit and get hit. As God is my witness, Who came to save the world, I will not stop fighting you, falling and getting up, beating and being beaten, until my final breath—and let’s see who will win: you or Christ!” When the demon heard this unexpected reply, he said: “I won’t fight you any more, because if I do, I’ll make you win crowns”. Thenceforth, this brother was delivered from the warfare, and he sat in his cell weeping for his sins. When God enlightens a person and he repents for his sins and walks with humility and caution, God does not let him be lost. Of course, his predispositions for his previous sins will become thorns and hindrances to him, but when he sees the waves rising menacingly, he should not despair, thinking that he will fall and be lost. On the contrary, he should hope in God with faith and struggle with humility under the spiritual guidance and training of his spiritual father, without fearing the violent storm that rose.



7. Τhe devil, of course, will not remain inactive; he also has his own weapons. Which ones? For instance, he whispers to us: “You can’t do anything. I will throw you down again. Don’t you see the magnitude of this passion, the bulk of that weakness? Bear in mind that I’m not defeated so easily and that I’m not about to retreat. Besides, what have you achieved until now? Nothing! Nor will I ever let you do anything in the future. All your efforts are going to waste. I am invincible. Don’t you see my might?” And at once he displays filthy fantasies with intensely powerful carnal pleasure. He seems armed like a scorpion. And then he makes the struggler think that it is impossible for him to escape and that he should put up his hands and surrender! These and countless other things does the insidious instigator craftily display. So, onward! Let us expose the lie of his traps, and let us reveal the rustiness of his weapons. The warrior of the mighty God, trusting in Christ’s invincible power and actually feeling it, begins the serious battle courageously, raising the banner of the awesome cross and armed with the name of Jesus which is dreadful to the demons. He calls upon it constantly and vigorously, and thus keeps the imagination* from giving in to the insidious and silly assaults of the devil, while always reflecting on death, judgment, hell, the delight of paradise and eternal glory beside Jesus, the feats of the saints, and so on—and all this is like ammunition supplying power to prayer! Then despair, negligence, egotism, and depravity are put to flight, the struggler is filled with zeal, and Satan’s exaggerations collapse and burst like a thin balloon.

*Imagination (φαντασία )
Τhe imagination is one of the lower psychical faculties of man, operating in a realm between reason and sense. Although the imagination can be used by the nous to create beneficial contemplations, it is also the chief instrument evil spirits use to create fantasies of worldly or sinful things which distract one from prayer and lead one to wrong thinking, wrong feeling, and wrong doing.





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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 20/3/2011, 01:52

Chapter Seven.

On Anger.

Be meek and do not get angry, for anger is a fruit of egotism and self-will, while, on the contrary, meekness is a fruit of a humble heart and of cutting off one’s own will. When one gets angry, his mind loses its discretion, and as a result, it loses its equanimity and is carried away into saying improper words. Even though the Holy Fathers liken all the passions to intoxication, primarily they liken anger with it, because when a person is intoxicated, he loses his dignity and makes a fool of himself in front of everyone—which is also what happens when an irascible person loses his temper. The Lord tells us: “Learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29 ). In order to find peace for our conscience, we must stifle and eradicate the beast of anger, whose lair is egotism. When someone happens to criticize you, whether justly or out of tactlessness, take hold of yourself, repress the inward turmoil, close your mouth, and start saying the prayer internally, and at once you will see the beast choke! But every victory takes a struggle. If you want to subdue and eradicate your passions, learn to love humility and self-reproach. Only in this way are the passions diminished and obliterated. When you are overcome by anger, you should realize that you are feeding it, only to find it stronger next time. But if, when it rises, you stifle it in the way we mentioned above then you should realize that you are starving it, and so the next time it rises, it will be weaker, and the next time even weaker, and little by little your anger will be healed.

On the Warfare with the Demons.

My child, always be careful, both when you are happy and when you are sad. When you are happy you should not lose control through vivacity and laughter, nor when you are sad should you be so gloomy that it shows. The reason why is that Satan shoots thoughts at us like arrows, but he cannot tell if our heart is receptive to them. But since he is an expert, once he shoots an arrow—that is, once he assaults us with an evil thought—he observes our face and all the movements of our body, and based on them, he gauges how well the arrow struck our heart. If he sees that the soul is hit, then he shoots more arrows there to kill it. But if he deduces from the exterior signs that the soul is not wounded, he changes his attack, and so on. Therefore, when you are happy, you should conceal it within yourself, so that he does not discover it through your carelessness and rob you of it with some temptation. Likewise, when you are sad, do not let it show lest he augments your grief after discerning the reason for your sadness. If you maintain a balanced state when you are happy and when you are sad, the devil does not know exactly what is happening inside you, and thus does not know how to fight you.

2. We are passing through the midst of many traps, so it is not permissible to proceed neglectfully if we want to avoid the snares. Let us keep our eyes wide open, imitating the many-eyed Cherubim, so that we may deride the clumsy tricks of Satan and ascend with the wings of divine thoughts through the spiritual ether. Thus we may offer the health of our souls as a fragrant incense to God, Who dwells in the heavens. Just as the health of children brings joy to their parents, likewise our good Father—God—rejoices to see our souls healthy.

3. I am always praying to the Lord that He will give you sound judgment. Think before you speak. You are still inexperienced in the wiles of the devil, whose goal is never to let you have peace. Sometimes from the right and sometimes from the left; sometimes with your own affairs and sometimes with other people’s he keeps you busy so that your soul is never calm and you are unable to see its depths, where there is still much rubbish. Do not occupy yourselves with anything other than yourselves. Become stupid to become smart; become ignorant for the Lord to reveal His wisdom to you.

4. Do not think that it escapes the devil’s notice or that he doesn’t care that you have formed a synodia, in other words, a bastion to fight him from. No; he has observed it carefully and has cunningly prepared himself with the guile of a fox and the power of a wolf, as much as he could. He has entered your sheepfold and is ravaging your souls. Do not leave him inside any longer; arise and be united with love which paralyzes his strength. Reflect that you have left everything for Christ; you have sacrificed your youth; you have despised all worldly joys to obtain Christ. Pity your souls. Reflect that the devil is vigilantly seeking to devour someone. The abysmal dragon cannot stand to see you trampling upon him and not obeying him! He is jealous, and so as a cunning fox he causes discord and arguments so that he may succeed in destroying the brotherhood, and then hurl you into various pits of sin.

5. Without the Lord’s assistance, we are unable to do anything good. Therefore, we need much humility to find repose for our souls. The evil one will never cease shooting at us with his flaming arrows and trying to overcome and dominate us. But we also have many deadly weapons. In particular, the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” literally burns him. This is why he tries to fight us in an indirect manner. But our Christ enlightens us with His holy commandments to fight him. The devil is using that person to fight you and make you transgress God’s holy commandments, and in this way to harm not only you, but primarily to grieve and fight God through your transgressions. Whereas, on the contrary, if we struggle to keep the word of God persistently, we not only save our souls, but also we become the means by which God is glorified. “Those who glorify me shall I glorify” (1 Kings 2:30 ). Therefore, my child, struggle with love, patience, and humility to disable the traps of the devil with God’s help. Perhaps through you, He will enlighten this person to repent. “Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21 ).


6. Do not think that it was you who thought such things about your Elder. No, my child, it was from the devil. Your soul is pure. The devil is dirty and he brings them to your mind. He tries to convince us that we thought them on our own in order to grieve us. The proof that this grief is diabolical is the ensuing negligence we have for our spiritual duties. For if it were from God, we would be eager in everything. You have not grieved your Elder, as you imagine, for he knows from experience that it is from the demons and not from you. It seemed to you like that so that you would grieve and not have the courage to reveal to him your thoughts. No; no matter how many times such thoughts come, go and freely tell them to him. For the tempter brings such thoughts to make us feel ashamed and not reveal and confess them so that he may devour us whole. Be careful not to conceal your thoughts, or you will fall into a trap.


7. We must pass our days with great caution. The devil is very crafty and is always on the lookout to ensnare us at a time of spiritual drowsiness and render us accountable to God and our conscience. May God abolish him so that he cannot harm us! But since He is just, He does not remove the free will of man. And this is why we—and first of all, I—voluntarily follow the suggestions of the devil, and we sin.

8. Even in the eleventh hour, our all-good God accepts us as long as we realize He awaits our return. But the sly enemy of our soul does not remain inactive; nothing escapes his notice. For this scoundrel knows the inestimable value of time and endeavors through vain cares and allurements and comforts of the world to establish steadfast ignorance and forgetfulness, so as to bring complete despair at a man’s last hour, and win the immortal souls for which Christ died on the Cross!

9. Do not grieve because of your warfare. Do not fear, but take courage. The demons do not have the authority to harm you. It is from the hand of God; through it the eyes of your soul will be opened, and it will set you on the right path. It takes extremely bitter medicines to heal difficult passions. Entreat God: “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt. 6:13 ). This warfare, as St. Isaac the Syrian says, is due to pride, conceit, and hardness of heart. The remedy is humility, the recognition of one’s incorrect judgment, and obedience and trust in one’s spiritual father. Humble yourself, my child; only this medicine will save you. God has sent these temptations to you out of love to frighten you, so that you pull yourself together, come to your senses, humble yourself, and ask for forgiveness. The demons get angry when you pray, because these evil ones see that you are beginning to break their nets, and they are afraid that you might escape from them. They want to make you despair or lose heart. Therefore, arm yourself with trust and hope in God and with the conviction that they are not allowed to do anything without the higher command of God. Know that if you are patient in this warfare and humble yourself before God and your brethren, God will give you much grace and enlightenment; the eyes of your soul will be opened, and you will see in what great darkness you were. The courage you have is due to the grace of God which helps you in these temptations. For without courage and hope and faith, there is grave danger in such temptations. Do not be afraid of anything; have all your hope in God. Cry out the prayer without stopping and you will see how much help you will receive. Fear God—not the demons. Fear God and His judgments, for when He decides to punish us with some kind of penance for our pride, who is able to stop Him? Therefore, when the evil is still small, let us take care to remedy it. For once it has grown worse, you will not be able to be delivered even if others help you. So love God more, since He has sent you the medicine for your illness—that is, patience, humility, and courage—and see to it that you take it.

10. Do not be afraid of invisible enemies since you have put on Christ. But you should tremble when you do not see grace protecting you because of your sins. Even then, “every evil has a tinge of good”. See to it that you serve God with fear and trembling, for the crafty devil, who trips up those who struggle, waits for a period of negligence, and then he furiously leaps out—may God abolish him—and tries, if possible, to drag us down into hell alive.

11. The devil is the source of every lie and deception and cunning and evil. This is why all thoughts aimed against Christians are in essence a lie and deception. He promises to the young every kind of prosperity through fanciful thoughts and beguiles them through illusory dreams with riches, pleasure, delights, eternal life, etc. (for this is the devil’s plan: to keep man from remembering death, since this ruins his plans ), until he trusts him as his best and most intimate friend. Then, once he entwines him in his webs as a spider its prey, with great ease he sucks up all his spiritual substance and renders him dead in relation to God.

12. Unbelief and blasphemy proceed from the envy of the devil. There is only one remedy: to disregard such thoughts as if they were only the barking of a dog. One is not held accountable for them. Other people who did not know this fasted and kept vigil and wept to be delivered. But blasphemous thoughts leave a person only if he disregards them. Abba Agathon was also fought by blasphemous thoughts. He entreated God to deliver him and heard a voice telling him: “Agathon, Agathon! Take care of your sins, and let the devil bark as much as he wants. You are not accountable for those thoughts”. If you do not disregard them, you will never be delivered.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 20/3/2011, 22:24


Chapter Seven.


On the Spiritual Struggle.

The faster you acquire a virtue, the easier it is lost. The more slowly and laboriously you acquire it, the more steadfastly it remains; just like that squash plant that grew tall and said to the cypress tree: “See how much I’ve grown in just a few days! You’ve been here for so many years and haven’t grown much at all!” “Yes”, said the cypress tree, “but you still haven’t seen storms, heat waves, and cold spells!” And after a little while, the squash plant dried up, while the cypress tree remained where it was! This is also how a spiritual man is. Both during a storm and in times of peace he remains the same. Why? Because the long period of time has created stability. When he first renounced the world, his spiritual condition was unstable, but with time, the grace of God gradually worked out his salvation and freedom from the passions. Thus, a person needs to force himself today, and the grace of God will start acting by itself tomorrow. Then you will not need to force yourselves to have good thoughts; the grace that remains within you is what brings them to your mind without your effort. Then you will see great mysteries! You will have a feeling, so to speak, of the remembrance of death, or of another beneficial recollection. When you wake up and are still opening your eyes, instead of feeling sleepy, you will have progressed; you will have already passed through the entire mystery of theoria and will say, “But how does this thing happen, since I am still getting up? How does this thing happen?” All the same, the grace of God acts by itself—it is a result of a long-standing habit. The same thing happens with sin: whether awake or sleeping, a sinful man constantly thinks about evil. When sin is helped by a bad habit and by the devil, it becomes a constant evil. Likewise with good; a good habit assisted by the grace of God becomes second nature to him.


2. To suspect that someone supposedly thinks ill of you or that they are saying things about you is called a lie of the mind by the Holy Fathers. A lie of the mouth is when, for example, instead of saying that I have five dollars, I say that I have ten. A lie of conduct is when, for example, instead of saying that I was late getting up for church due to my negligence, I say that I was tired because I worked a lot yesterday!

3. Fasting is an exceptional virtue; it represses bodily impulses and gives strength to the soul to fight against the poisoning of the heart through the senses, and provides it with a remedy against any past poisoning. Fasting causes the mind to be cleansed constantly. It withers up every evil thought and brings healthy, godly thoughts—holy thoughts that enlighten the mind and kindle it with more zeal and spiritual fervor.

4. No matter how much the frightening tyrant of our souls oppresses us out of envy and malice, the time will come for God to judge his malice and give eternal repose to us who are heavy-laden. Patience, my child. Let us also wear the thorny crown of life’s afflictions, as did our archetype, Jesus. Let the thorns stick deeply into our head, and let it bleed painfully, so that the pain and the blood may beautify and glorify the garment of our soul, so that we will not be put to shame when we appear before Christ and see other souls full of glory and purity. Patience; the winter of afflictions will pass, and the beautiful spring will bring the fragrance of the grace of God.

5. Struggle with all the might of your soul for the love of our Christ. The devil strives day and night to make us his vessels and render us unworthy of our holy God. But let us strive to become vessels of our crucified Christ so that we may humiliate the devil and glorify the Love Who shed His all-holy blood for us! Struggle mightily. Do not fear, for we have before us our big brothers—the angels—who fight together with us. They are incomparably stronger than the demons. Therefore, take courage. Strengthen ourselves with true self-knowledge, for the truth protects a struggler like an almighty weapon.


6.
Always pray with the beloved Jesus prayer. Retire into yourself through silence and reading. Care for your little soul, my daughter. Live more spiritually in your home. God is watching your situation, and the hour of grace will miraculously strike when the headquarters above decides to. Weep humbly praying: “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26 ). Satan employs all his means to prevent souls from ascending. Blessed is he who escapes from him and ridicules him. Philosophize on the vanity of the transitory things and on the authenticity of the constancy of the life in Heaven, where the Church Triumphant dwells, awaiting and praying for the Church Militant that fights the harsh fight today—for we will need the correct dogmas of our Holy Fathers and a burning faith in Christ. It is a time when the devil will deceive, if possible, even the elect (cf. Mt. 24:24 ).

silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 22/3/2011, 01:17

Chapter Eight.

On Cowardice and Negligence.


A cowardly soldier lacks glory, boldness, prestige. Not a single one of his requests reaches the ears of the king. Whereas at the mere mention of a valiant soldier’s name, his requests are immediately fulfilled! O lofty boldness that adorns the valiant spiritual striver! Who does not desire it? And yet negligence, especially in prayer, scatters it to the four winds and leaves a person bare. How much more should we be glorified when we are valiant, for we wear the angelic schema and have promised under oath to the King of kings to struggle till death—not to be negligent and to desert. So let us completely vanquish the enemy of God and of our soul through our struggle and forcefulness.


2. Regarding the fear that overcomes you at night, etc., know that it is from the tempter. You will defeat him with faith in God. In other words, you should reflect that God is everywhere present “In God we live and move” (cf. Acts 17:28 ), and nothing happens without God allowing it. Even if we find ourselves with the devil or amongst wild beasts, God is present! Neither the devil nor the wild beasts are able to harm us if they do not have the authority from God to do so. Why then should we lack this salvific truth of God—faith in His providence—and be afraid when there is nothing to fear? How can I be harmed, since God has authority over the devil and an evil person and everything that can harm me? And how will a person’s guardian angel—who, by God’s providence, never leaves him—permit him to be harmed, if he does not receive a command from the Lord to let him? Therefore, my child, take courage. And when this fear comes upon you, say: “Whom shall I fear? Who is able to harm me, since God governs everything? Even if I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me” (Ps. 22:4 ). At the same time, say the Jesus prayer, and fear nothing. Believe firmly in the truth of faith.


3. (To a novice nun )My beloved child, may our Panagia strengthen you in your spiritual struggle until the end. I see your soul’s discouragement; you are like the “tyros” in a war, that is, like the newly recruited soldiers who are taken to the battlefront. As soon as they see bullets flying, bombs dropping, etc., they lose their courage and want to flee. But the experienced generals make sure to mingle them with old, seasoned soldiers, and they encourage them until they grow accustomed to war. I commend your desire and your wish to attain perfection and dispassion. All your efforts should aim at this goal. However, you must not forget with whom you have to wrestle. You have to wrestle against rulers, against principalities, against very wicked, dark powers (cf. Eph. 6:12 ), against legions very experienced in battle; furthermore, you have to wrestle against the flesh and the world of passions, which are like painful wounds, and it takes skill, time, patience, and diligence to heal them. As for your discouragement, know that this is an attack; cannon-shots of the enemy; it is one of the wounds of the passions. Therefore, it takes patience, perseverance, courage. Do not let this darken the heaven of your hopes. Trust that God knows all the inclinations of each person and that He has never overlooked good intentions and efforts without rewarding them sooner or later. We see that the Holy Fathers in their early years endured droughts, terrible discouragement, and other deadly temptations. But they held on tightly to patience and forcefulness, and then grace visited them, in proportion to what they had previously endured. You say that the eldress’s mentality frightens you, as does your inexperience and the environment in general, as if it were inconducive to perfection because of temptations, etc. All these things are swept aside through humility and self-reproach. In other words, cast the blame on yourself. Say: “I am the cause of my discouragement, either because of my pride, or because I am still shortsighted and unable to orient myself properly, so it is only natural that I lose my hope”. Likewise, the cloud can also be brushed aside through faith in your spiritual guide—as long as you abide by the rules of the fight. We know from our patristic and hesychastic tradition that in the old days, young monks, after obtaining the blessing of some greater Elder, would built cells and live by themselves, and only from time to time would they visit their Elder, tell him their thoughts, receive guidance, and depart again. And even though they did not have their Elder constantly hovering over their heads, they attained great heights of virtue only through his counsels. Know, my child, that above all these things is Christ—not only above our head, but even within us—and he rewards every good intention and effort. Often humility—not genuine humility, of course, but humility poisoned by the devil—advises us with “humble” thoughts such as : “I am weak, so I need this and that in order to make progress, and since I am not given them, how can I be saved?” and so on. When we believe such thoughts, our spiritual nerves begin to be cut, resulting in spiritual torpor, etc. whereas we should have been fortified by the counsels of an experienced spiritual father, so that we would not suffer this torpor. For we know that the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf. 2 Cor. 11:14 ) and that every virtue can end up being extremely harmful in the absence of experienced discernment. This is why the Fathers said, “Above all is discernment”. My dear child in the Lord, cast away your discouragement and say: “I will compel myself until death. I will pursue perfection and attain dispassion. And if I do not attain it either because of my weaknesses or because my death intervenes, or for any other reason, I trust that, according to the teachings of our Fathers, God will rank me with the perfect”. “But I am seeking to enjoy the blessedness and the peace of God!” you might tell me. Yes; say to the enemy: “God is within me. If I compel myself with prayer, humility, and tears, He will show me His holy face! Not only here in the monastery, but even if I were in Sodom, like Lot, God is able to grant me this holy desire of my soul”. So just attend to yourself and to your sins, and I trust that you will find more than you expect.


4. Consider those nightmares and turmoil to be a storm roused by the devil’s jealousy. The devil wants to intimidate you in the beginning of your spiritual journey, so that you say, “If in the beginning of my journey I encounter such temptations that are beyond my strength, who could possibly endure until the end?” In this way, Satan works his evil craft with experience and skill, making thus a long list of damned souls. But we know his traps through experience. In the beginning the journey is difficult, but afterwards come repose, joy, and high hopes of salvation. “Beholding the sea of life rising with the surging waves of temptations, I flee to Thy calm haven and cry to Thee: Raise my life from corruption, O Most Merciful One” (Eirmos from the Ochtoechos, plagal second tone ). Tempests and fair weather, war and peace, health and illness, gain and loss—these characterize the journey of every soul. The end of this journey is death. So, blessed soul, do not lose heart along the road of your salvation. Together we shall walk the road, helping each other. The grace of God, which heals weaknesses and makes up for deficiencies, will be with us, girding our flaccid thoughts and anointing us with patience, until the command comes from the Ruler of All that we leave our body here and that our soul ascend to the heavens.

5. You wrote to me in your first letter that David states: “He shall never permit the righteous to be shaken” (Ps. 54:22 ). Here he means that the righteous will not suffer the kind of storm that would have a deplorable end. However, out of His love, God does send them trials that have good results, for it is through the good kind of storms that righteous souls are not only saved but also perfected. If there were no storms, no one would be saved. You wrote in your second letter that it is written in the Scriptures: “The fearful should not go out into battle” (vid. Deut. 20:8 ). Yes, but this holds for physical warfare, because the fearful can dishearten the brave. In the spiritual warfare, however, it is not so; rather, the fearful are encouraged by the brave and the experienced. Spiritual fathers can do harm only when they lack experience and teach erroneously. That is, when they give the wrong medicines for the illness of the person confessing. A fearful person in the spiritual warfare suffers harm in that he does not progress spiritually. But when he cries out for the mercy of God, he is delivered. He does not have the bravery for great battles, but at least he does something to be saved, and he will receive a reward according to the amount of his work. Having been justified, the saints were tried in this manner, either because they lacked something, or in order to be glorified more—for they had great patience, and since God did not want the rest of their patience to remain idle, He let them be tried. But their trials always had a good result.

6. I pray, my child, that you struggle. Do not forget the goal: salvation. The devil is roaring, seeking whom he may devour (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8 ). Time is not in our hands; our life is dangling by a single thread. Compel yourself; rise to your stature; prove that you are a servant of Christ and not of the devil. Don’t you know that negligence will bring a thousand and one thoughts to take you captive? Pray with pain and tears. Take courage; Christ will not abandon you. Compel yourself a little, and the devil will leave. Grave is ready to help you; it awaits your resolve and forcefulness. Negligence, my child, engenders unbelief and listlessness, which in turn brings a swarm of evil and harmful thoughts that leads its victim to filthiness. Arise, take the weapon, the dear little prayer, and cry out the glory of our God. Vanquish your adversary, the devil, who seeks to devour you. Compel yourself! I am praying and weeping especially for you, so that our Panagia may strengthen you in your struggle.


7. May the God of peace, my child, grant you His love and His divine peace, which surpasses all understanding (cf. Phil. 4:7 ). May the love of God be the aspiration of your life. You should fear negligence as your greatest enemy. Negligence brings all evils. It is through negligence of your duties that all spiritual goods corrode, resulting in an overall drought of soul and the consequences that follow. It is fought by continuous prayer, with the mouth or the nous, by the remembrance of hell, paradise, the unknown time of our death, etc. So compel yourself in your duties—and especially with silence and the prayer.

8. Beloved of my heart, I give you my heart’s greatest wish, that God may keep you from the evil one. Amen. “Fight the good fight” (1 Tim. 6:12 ) of your soul; be aware of where you fall and correct yourself. Strike your negligence with all your might—all evil originates from it. Every time you fall, Satan comes that much closer to you to turn you into his plaything and make a spectacle of you. Awaken from your insensibility; meditate and reflect on the things above; we shall go on a journey with no return. Be careful, for some will go to the good things above, to the most beautiful Jerusalem, and have an endless Pascha with the angels, while others will go down to hell, having the demons as eternal companions! Look above; pass through this sky with your mind and behold what is hidden beyond it! Our Fatherland is there; that is where our labors go and are stored up. Therefore, do not neglect your duties—reading, prayer rule, vigil, watchfulness, and the prayer. Keep crying and shouting out, “Jesus, Master! I, the wretch, am perishing!” (cf. Lk. 8:24 ).


9. God does not want those whom He will save, who seek His mercy, to be ignoramuses, unmanly, cowardly, or spiritually untested. It is a matter of a divine inheritance stored up for experienced Christians. So He places temptations before us so that our obedience to His commandments may be demonstrated. His illumination is within us; knowledge of His will is taught by the Scriptures; furthermore, our conscience guides us like a compass. All of the above enlighten us in the face of temptations. But when evil prevails over our will, we do not obey His commandments. We were created with free will, and free will cannot be controlled by others. As such, if we feared God, we would not fall into temptation. If we did not love ourselves more than God, we would not tend towards sin. But His goodness did not leave our falls without a rectifying remedy, whereby we return once again and a victory occurs in spite of our fall. All who compel themselves to be saved, the Scriptures call righteous, justified by faith. God will not let them fall, for they are struggling properly. He will not let them be tempted beyond their strength when they are making every effort to be patient. But when we are cowardly and lukewarm, when we have a slothful will, this constitutes an occasion for a temptation beyond our strength. Your grumbling is sinful; it is a result of self-love and unmanliness. Have patience in everything; thank God; blame your lukewarmness, and not God, Who was crucified for you and, consequently, must love you. Since He loves you, how can He let you fall into temptation? Seek forgiveness from Him, and secure yourself with patience.


10. Beware of indolence in saying the prayer, as well as in guarding your thoughts, not to mention slackness in the struggle of your vigil. Do not be negligent, my children, because negligence is a terrible evil, the mother of all the vile pleasures, the forerunner of hell, and a cause for a terrible captivity. Do not sleep the slumber of negligence, for the devil is awake and holds a lit torch in his hand, and endeavors to set us on fire. Wake up! A judgment and a tribunal without mercy await us! Do not be disheartened; do not lose courage. Sometimes the holy nurse—the grace of God—leaves us, and we fall into ridiculous and indecent thoughts, and sometimes even words, so that we might be humbled and not think highly of ourselves, but rather become aware of our weakness, that we are unable to do any good without the grace of God.


11. Do not fear; struggle; arm yourself with courage and bravery. We have Jesus as our general, Who leads our army to a glorious victory! By no means lose heart; the evil one incites us to lose heart so that he may disarm us and take us prisoner. Have your hopes in Him Who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb.13:5 ). He will not let us be tempted beyond our strength.




12. My child, the tempter has visited you to test your intentions, based on your predispositions fight the good fight of a martyr; do not fear the dreadful enemy of our souls. Christ is observing your struggle, my good child. He allows the tempter to trouble you in order to show him the miracle He worked in you by detaching you from the world with His sweet grace. Fight against your soul’s enemy, my child, and do not let him get anything from you that he used to steal from you in the world “for free”. Resist firmly, so that the angels may rejoice and leap for joy because the bodiless devil has been conquered by you with the aid of the invisible grace of God. The labor of every struggle passes, but the victory remains. If you do not taste hell “by the bucket” during a temptation, you are not going to see the grace of God. Meditate on death. We are departing to another world—how beautiful and blessed it is! I wonder, shall we dwell in that world of such beauty? Let us reflect upon this most blissful place constantly, so that we will be able to despise this false and deceptive world. Pray continually, my child. Reflect upon your sins and shed scalding tears, which will greatly comfort you. You will mourn properly when you keep silent and do not laugh.


13. My blessed child, rejoice with the love of our good God, Who, like a most affectionate father, cares for us so well—even with his wise chastisement—for the salvation of our souls. My child, many times we are daunted by some temptation—as you were—without realizing that nothing bad can happen to us without the Heavenly Father allowing it to happen through His divine providence in order to increase our spiritual knowledge. God will not put oxen (people spiritually uninitiated ) in the other world, but people wise and faithful, knowledgeable through experience of the demons, and victorious over the various sins. Have courage in the fight, my child! Through many tribulations and temptations we shall pass the sea of this life here to reach the calm harbor of the blessed life which will have no end, tribulations, or dangers. Keep a firm hold on the helm of chastity, so that we may pass the obstacles of dreadful hell. God wants those who struggle to imitate Him by enduring the greatest sufferings for the sake of His love, because in this manner they show their true love for Him. It is during temptations that the love of each person really shows—how much he loves God! Our Jesus, my children, wants us to have complete love for him. In other words, two loves do not fit in one and the same heart. We cannot serve both God and mammon (Mt. 6:24 ). Rather, we ought to give Him an unadulterated, pure heart, so that He in turn may give us His undefiled, divine heart.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 22/3/2011, 22:42

Chapter Eight.

On Forcefulness, Courage, and Self-Denial.

I pray that you become fighters in a glorious battle whose victorious outcome the angelic powers will applaud, for we have the same Master, the same abode in the heavens; in the very same abundant light shall we live the eternal, blissful life—a life without end or evening, a truly divine day! The Apostle of the Gentiles cried out in a stentorian voice: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness?” (Rom. 8:35 ). I am convinced that no one is able to separate us from the love of Christ when our longing burns like a furnace sevenfold. Yes, this is how I pray that you will become, so that He may be glorified—He Who for our sake became the object of insults, reproaches, slappings, and death—even death on a cross! Do not despair when you fall into temptations and afflictions. Do not think that God has abandoned us because of our sins. No, but He is chastising us in order to teach us wisdom. He does not want us to be ignoramuses, but wise in divine wisdom. If we are not fought against, how will it show that we are soldiers of Christ? A soldier might get wounded in battle, but this does not mean that he has been defeated. Even if we are defeated, once again we shall rise and fight. Of course, in the beginning of our calling, when we have chosen a life of chaste dedication to our Jesus, we are unable to meet His requirements because, as we know, there is another law within us which wars against the law of God and the lifestyle we have chosen, and it fights to separate us from the love of Jesus. However, this fight does not mean that we are not worthy of our calling, but rather the fight to abolish the law of sin within us will render us more fervent in our love for Christ. For if it were possible to acquire the love of Christ without a struggle, our own will would have no merit, since we would gain it without a struggle.
So this is why we shall be rewarded when, despite all the opposition caused by the love of the world, we obtain the life-giving love of God, and when, despite the attraction of sin, we stand as firm towers of virtue! Clouds will rise up against our goal, threatening destruction and havoc; they will try to frighten and demoralize us with their thunder. But take courage and fear not; through many tribulations and trials shall we reach the gates of the kingdom of heaven! (cf. Acts 14:22 ). The martyrs struggled with faith and complete self-denial, and thus they obtained promises (Heb. 11:33 ) and crowns of eternal glory! Thus we, too, through faith in our Christ and complete self-denial, shall be able to prevail by His grace. Our inner courage must reach the point of saying with resolution: “Even if I am put to death, I will not take a single step away from my faith in Christ Who has called me. I will give up my life for Christ, but not one inch of concession will I concede to sin”. If our inner courage boasts in this manner, we may hope that victory, by the grace of God, will be ours. Say the prayer fervently; struggle mightily; abstain; pray; wear simple, humble clothes; read spiritual books; get up at night and pray in order to be warmed and become as sturdy as a rock. This is also how I, the wretch, used to struggle when I was still in the world; I secretly got up at night and did metanoias; I prayed and our Panagia miraculously intervened for me, the lowly one.

2. I see your struggle; I am counting the crowns; I envy your medallions; I plunge my mind into the age to come to hear the triumphant melodies that the angelic beings will compose; I am amazed and bemoan myself because I have not struggled as you struggle! My children, just think about what the martyrs went through for our Christ! And the more martyrs were killed, the more did Christians flourish; our Church has been watered with the blood of martyrs. We are martyrs in this corrupt society of ours, for with our chaste—by God’s grace—lifestyle, we censure the immorality of mankind and its estrangement from the worship of God. Abide, my children, in this chaste lifestyle; abide close to our Jesus, and may you resemble Him by enduring slander and false accusations. This is what our Lord endured from the Scribes and the Pharisees and the chief priests; unjustly did He suffer on the Cross. Therefore, those who want to be his followers will undergo similar trials. Kneel at the holy feet of our Jesus and shed tears of love, follow Him with loyal dedication till death, and if the waves rise up to heaven and descend to the abyss, so be it. Our Christ, the true God, with a dreadful, divine nod will calm all the waves, as long as we have faith. Believe truly and steadfastly in Him Who said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20 ). Jesus is with us; do not lose heart. He will fight for us, through the intercessions of the invincible Theotokos, and grant us the victory.

3. If indolence is harmful for those who are advanced, how much worse it is for those who are young. Therefore, my children, compel yourselves, for the less diligently we struggle to be saved, the more the enemy exerts himself to harm us. Do not be drowsy if you want to be delivered from the snares of the enemy, for whoever is asleep can be mortally wounded, whereas whoever is vigilant—no matter how much he is struck—fights and wounds his enemy as well. Do not lose the prayer, my children, through daydreaming and neglectfulness. Do not forget the maxim: “The way you begin follows you to the end”. So fear the result and carefully attend to the beginning, for a day will come when you will realize the serious words I am stressing today. Make a good beginning now, for “a good beginning is half the battle”. Keep crying out the world-saving name of Jesus Christ so that not only your ears hear it, but so that it also echoes in the ravines. Struggle, for it is you who will be saved; you are the ones who will reap the sweet fruit of eternal life. I am doing my duty, for I want to act conscientiously before Christ in my effort and diligence for your salvation—as for your sins, that is something personal. Compel yourself in your vigil, for from it springs forth eternal life. He who keeps vigil will enjoy great grace for the pains he takes to oppose his human nature. No work of the monastic life is greater than keeping vigil. He who is negligent in keeping vigil will reap vices instead of grace. And how shall he present himself before Christ with a patched-up garment? His shame will be indescribable when his brothers appear with garments all white and new. “A word to the wise suffices”.


4. Sacrifice yourselves in order to find eternal life in paradise! Do not let forgetfulness overcome you and wipe away from you all spiritual dew, leaving you dry and dead in relation to God. Become valiant soldiers of Christ. Do not renounce Him by your deeds, but glorify His name. become a whole burnt-offering for God’s sake, so that He may smell a fragrant aroma. I beseech God for you; I weep for you, because I do not know how to do anything else other than to love and suffer for my children in Christ. I ask only this favor of you: love one another and be humble towards each other.

5. Struggle, my child, so that your soul may bear fruit, for the position that each person will receive beside the Lord Jesus corresponds to how much he has labored. Fear not; we shall pass through fire and water (cf. Ps. 65:12 )—that is, through fire when the temptations seem like fire in the way they act, for example, carnal thoughts, thoughts of hatred, envy, etc., and through water when thoughts of despair and hopelessness come upon us and drown our soul as if in water. After passing through fire and water, God will raise us to the spiritual refreshment of deliverance from base thoughts and to the dispassion bestowed by grace.

6. My child, be silent, humble, obedient till death; be ready to sacrifice yourself by cutting off your will, even if it seems like a real martyrdom—this is what self-denial means. When you keep all this advice, fear nothing—no evil—neither from the demons, nor from men, for whoever keeps the divine commandments is kept by God from every evil. Do not be abrupt when you answer; no matter how they criticize you, say, “Bless”.

7. The devil deceives us, and we forget that we ought to compel ourselves, for the days are passing, and we are gradually approaching death to our inconsolable regret. Compel yourselves, my children; time is passing. Attend to yourselves; the devil does not sleep but vigilantly fights, seeking whom he may devour. My children, be careful not to lose your immortal and priceless souls, which are worth more than thousands of worlds.

8. During the fight, at the time of the struggle, the demons shoot arrows powerfully and wound us. They try to convince the soul that it is impossible for the passions to subside, so that the struggler slackens, loses his fortitude, and gives up. But the struggler must realize the deceit of the demons and be patient and brave, saying, “Life or death—it is better to die for God rather than live with negligence and remorse”. If he resists with this kind of knowledge and bravery, the dragon of the abyss, who devours the whole world with his cunning, departs until an opportune time—not that he is afraid, but he departs so that he will not cause the struggler to win crowns, for he sees the zeal of God surrounding him.

9. Why, my child, do you leave your “vineyard unfenced”? Why do you neglect to protect the fruit that you obtained after such a hard struggle? Why did you leave the watchdog—your soul’s zeal—so hungry that it did not have the strength to bark and chase away the thieves and the wild animals? Have you forgotten that it is to those who compel themselves that the kingdom of God is given? Didn’t you consider that the eternal fire awaits those who neglect to cultivate their soul? “Arise; why do you sleep? The end draws near, and you are about to be troubled” (Kontakion from the Great Canon of St. Andrew ). Wake up and cry out: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me the sinner, and arouse me to do Thy work so that Thou mayest pardon my debt as the God Who loveth man”. The Judge of the contest is invisibly present, observing each soul’s struggle and calculating how many trophies He will give. Let us eagerly desire the crowns and fight a good fight, and we shall obtain trophies corresponding to our zeal. Do you remember, my child, the efforts you made in school to become an excellent student? Do likewise in spiritual learning, in the true philosophy, in the acquisition of piety, in the increase of faith, in the purity of ethics. Success in worldly learning can be an impediment for the soul, whereas spiritual success raises one to heavenly heights. Struggle, my child, for the sake of our Christ. Other people insult Him through their disgraceful conduct. But you should glorify Him with your intellect’s shining purity from filthy thought. Drive away every thought that will defile your intellect and heart, which were sanctified during the divine washing by the Holy Spirit Who came to dwell in us at baptism. Fear God—this is the true wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7 ). Do not fear the threats of thoughts from the demons, but lean a mighty arm on God Who delivers you from faintheartedness and tempests (cf. Ps. 54:8 ). Take courage and walk like a brave man towards the heavenly Jerusalem, and its light will meet you in exultation.



10. I receive your letter, my child. Stand firm, tighten your belt, and put your best foot forward in the good fight, for the struggle is not to acquire material things, but to attain the heavenly inheritance of God! As the Apostle Paul tells us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9 ). Furthermore, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with these heavenly things (cf. Rom. 8:18 ). But if we do not fight well and lawfully, my child, then, unfortunately, evils await us instead of blessings—torment, misery, eternal damnation, and dwelling together with the demons forever! Fight bravely and do not fear the strength of the passions you see within you. For grace does not depend on the magnitude of the passions, but on our own forcefulness, and based on this, it provides the way out of our plight. Attend to the good beginning you have made. That is, don’t be negligent and lose the little compulsion you do have, for how much time was necessary just to attain it! So don’t turn back; walk steadily ahead. Look up above—behold how heaven shines. It awaits you; it has prepared an eternal abode for you! Christ is waiting to crown you; He is observing your struggle. Exert yourself as much as you can—only this will save you. Don’t despair when you see the strength of the passions and of the demons—nothing is impossible for God. Therefore, take courage and don’t lose heart. The Lord will fight for us, and we shall be still. Death comes without giving notice. Here in Portaria, a woman died while she was eating an apple. A nun at another monastery suddenly died within five minutes. They did an autopsy, but they couldn’t find the cause of her death. Be careful, my child. Whenever God gives the command, each person departs to Him. I wonder; when will He give the command for us to present ourselves before Him? Let us be ready so that we shall not be troubled in case He calls us suddenly. Watch out, my child! Don’t stray from the good beginning you have made. Instead, add struggle upon struggle so that you may reach the throne of God as one saved.


11. Struggle upon the spiritual battlements, for our struggle is for the acquisition of heaven. What is more beautiful than a spiritual struggle! Just think what songs of victory the angels in heaven will make for those who overcome sin, and what praise they will offer up to God, for there is a joyous celebration amongst the angels for the return of only one sinner! (cf. Lk. 15:7 ). So then, why are we negligent? Our toil is nothing in comparison to the good things stored up in the heavenly kingdom! Who is wise and will understand these things? (cf. Ps. 106:43 ). Who is the one who will raise the banner of revolution and roar like a lion against the enemy and seize the victory? So, my children, onwards! Be brave; take courage—the Lord is with us. Hold on tightly to humility, lay hold of prayer, fortify yourself with reading. Run with courage, cry out the prayer: “Upon Thee have I hoped, put me not to shame; upon Thee have I laid my hopes” (cf. Ps. 24:2 ). Encourage your governing mind. I am with you, strengthening you with my poor prayer.


12. My children, with a complete sacrifice of our self-will and desires we must declare war against the devil, the world, and our evil tendencies and weaknesses. The “old man” (Rom. 6:6 ) of passions must leave our heart, and the man in God’s likeness must be born, that is, with dispassion and the purity of both heart and body. Struggle with courage and with trust in God. The devil will attack you with worldly desires now and then. Nevertheless, you must keep the stance of a vigilant soldier so that you do not become spiritually drowsy and be killed by the devil. Be careful, for the adversary is roaring ferociously, seeking whom he may devour with vile passions.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 24/3/2011, 02:27

Chapter Eight.

On Forcefulness, Courage, and Self-Denial.


13. Constant forcefulness is necessary for us not to remain outside the bridal chamber of Christ, as did the foolish virgins. Rather, our spiritual forcefulness should continuously light our lamps, so that we can see Christ entering His bridal chamber and enter together with Him into the eternal wedding of the Lamb! Courage, my child; keep your chin up when you face the enemy, for we are soldiers of the great King, Who triumphed at the battlefront on Golgotha. If we are ever defeated, let us rise once again, and after we have bandaged our wounds, let us take up our weapons again with bravery and a firm heart. Since we have this kind of victorious Commander-in-Chief, we, too, shall be victorious with the power of our Christ, as long as a spirit of humble-mindedness dwells in our souls.


14. Do not lose your courage, my child, no matter how much the tempestuous sea of various passions might rage at times. You should reflect that all these things—and even many more things—are incapable of preventing us from receiving the grace and love of God. If our longing for Christ grows, my child, all the obstacles will become very small and easy to pass. But when we have no love nor any longing for our Christ, they become difficult to bear, and they water our days with burning tears. Yes, my child, let us keep calling upon Jesus until His flame ignites within us, and then all the weeds will become ashes. Always remember that we have to take up our cross every day, which means afflictions, labor, temptations, and every diabolical influence. Which saint has ever walked the dark paths of this world without afflictions and perils? And if we have been called to walk the same path, why do we find it strange to face afflictions? Since we have chosen to fight the devil, why are we surprised to encounter difficulties? Let us have the lamp of our eagerness lit, and let us await with patience and vigilance the coming of the Lord Jesus.

15. We should not postpone correcting ourselves, lest death finds us. Then we shall weep and lament inconsolably—and I, first of all—without a single ray of hope that the tribulations will change. Compel yourselves. Behold, Great Lent has come. However, it is not the fasting of the body as much as the fasting of the tongue, of the mind, of the heart, and of the senses that should preoccupy us especially now during Great Lent. Let us purify ourselves with this kind of fasting internally, where spiritual snakes are lurking that poison the life of our soul and deaden our spiritual strength, leaving it unable to correct and transfigure our soul. Now, during Lent, compel yourselves even more. Become stubborn in your resolve; this stubbornness is holy and not egotistical. You will see how much you will profit spiritually. Merely for the promise that the passions will be suppressed and that we will avoid certain sins corresponding to our efforts, we have good reason to become stubborn with the devil, who continually throws us into the same old sins.

16. Struggle, my child; isn’t the present life a time for struggling? Isn’t the life of every earthly man but a dream? Raise the noetic eyes of your soul and behold heavenly hosts of angels and archangels. Lift up the eyes of your mind higher and behold the blissful place of Lucifer, who was once a rising star, now empty. Oh, what a great destination! What a supremely holy calling! There, by the throne of God, souls will see the divine beauty of Christ and will be led up from knowledge to knowledge and from theoria to theoria with a superabundance of riches of divine grace! But in order to obtain these heavenly blessings, we must display bravery and mettle, and must engage in battles without turning our backs in defeat, keeping before us Jesus, Who said to us: “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33 ), and “The ruler of this world will be cast out” (Jn. 12:31 ). So, trusting in the invincible power of the crucified Christ, let us dedicate ourselves with simplicity to the struggle of the monastic life, and let us keep smothering the immaculate feet of our Savior with kisses, shedding tears of gratitude and joy. Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, etc.? (cf. Rom. 8:35 ). “I count all things as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8 ), cried out the mouth of Paul. Aren’t we obliged to imitate Paul and attain the same grace and love towards Christ that he had? Yes, but do we struggle as he did? Have we—have I –also gone through everything that he went through for his beloved Christ? No. This is why I am bare—or rather dressed in rags and covered with shame, and I am deluded, thinking that I am wearing a glorious diadem. Woe to me, woe to me the wretch! Who shall illuminate my darkness, so that I may see my wretchedness?



17. Force yourselves in your spiritual duties, for forcefulness in spiritual things is like a solid wall that does not let the river run into the garden and destroy what the gardener has labored to grow. But if we are negligent, the river comes in and destroys everything! The Lord speaks to us about this in the Holy Gospel: “While the men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat” (Mt. 13:25 ). The more we compel ourselves, the more we shall gain. The more one works, the more he is paid. The life of a monk is a daily cross, a holy Golgotha, where Jesus is calling all of us who love Him to be crucified with Him, and then the soul will resurrect.

18. Do not remain sluggish; just compel yourselves, so that you will not be condemned as hearers and not doers of the law. For you seek divine words, and seeking presupposes a commitment to apply the advice; so compel yourselves. Struggle, my children. Together with our Christ we shall endure everything. The world will hate us, primarily because it hates our Jesus—our love and adoration! Love Christ; breathe Christ; make Jesus dwell within your soul. Fear no one, for we belong to God; the King of kings has us as his royal servants; no evil will touch us, for we serve Christ—to Him are all things subjugated!

19. Μy children, be brave in the fight. Our Christ is invisibly present, waiting to see your victory, in order to give you the unfading crown of eternal glory! Whoever loves God sacrifices everything, solely to please God. Spare nothing, for before the love of God, everything is rubbish. The demons are troubled when they see us preparing for battle; the angels, though, rush to drive away every obstacle preventing victory. So let us ally ourselves with the angels of God, so that we may bear witness that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8 ).


20. (To an Abbess )Struggle, for the duty of shepherds is to sacrifice themselves for the sheep they have undertaken to shepherd. Thrice-blessed are the shepherds who will guide their rational sheep well, for great eternal riches await them in heaven. Endure everything, my child, for the devil will strike in many ways to break down the wall of our patience; he will thus make a double profit: our own defeat as well as that of the sisters.

21. I pray that the grace of God will overshadow you and give you sufficient strength to confront our wicked ego, the dreadful root of all the evil activities of polymorphous evil. Do not be afraid of the devil’s pressure, my child. The power of our God is so mighty that it helps unreservedly those who want to fight using it. The devil’s power is not trivial, but God miraculously protects us wretches. Have courage in the struggle, my child; study the law of God; say the sanctifying and salvific Jesus prayer, and hurl yourself into the fire of the battle. God will reward this struggle of yours with alleviation—as has already happened countless times—with high hopes for an eternal, bright future. Do not lose heart when facing any diabolical passion, no matter how gigantic it may look, for wherever God intervenes, the devil’s opposition is overcome.


22. My blessed child, do not be afraid in the struggle. Nourish your soul with courage and hope. Disregard the adversities that come from the demons. See to it that every fight is crowned with success. In God’s eyes nothing is in vain—even the slightest forcefulness is good. Do not lose your nerve at all; fight valiantly; coerce yourself, press yourself, for it is by pressing grapes that sweet wine is made, which gladdens the heart. Courage, my child; we shall prevail with God’s help.

23. Bolster your courage for a new struggle, and thus you will repel every thought of cowardice and discouragement. We must continually revive our strength and regroup our front of resistance, as the devil also does. Do not let an incidental fall—or even continual falls—drive you to despair. Our objective is not to turn our backs to the enemy in despair, so that he cannot boast before God and so that we do not sadden Him. Courage and bravery are appropriate for strugglers when they are struggling not for ephemeral crowns that fade, but for everlasting ones that are incorruptible! So blessed are all who will have their lamps lit with oil in them. With joy and exultation they will enter along with Christ into the eternal wedding, full of spiritual delight.

24. The Christian struggle is glorious, for the prize is not something ephemeral, but it is eternal glory up in heaven! Blessed is he who is wise in God, for no account will be demanded from him, and he will not find himself in a difficult position when God calls him to give an account for his time on earth. We waste time with no regret. When we leave this world, we shall realize the damage we have suffered by letting time escape from us. The days are passing with no reckoning. Realizing this saves us, even if it is only during the final days of our life.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 25/3/2011, 01:13

Chapter Nine.

On Condemnation.


Slander is a great evil. Just as the little rudder steers the whole ship wherever it wants, likewise the tongue leads a person either to good or to evil. The holy fathers greatly censure judging other people’s sins, faults, or evil habits. When we judge our brother, we condemn ourselves to a great sin. But when we cover our brother, God will also protect us from great sins. When we expose our brother, we drive the grace of God away from us and He permits us to fall into the same sins so that we learn that we are all weak and that the grace of God supports us. Whoever guards his tongue guards his soul from great sins and grievous falls. The chief cause of criticism and slander is pride and egotism, because one considers onesrlf better than the others. For this reason it is very beneficial for a person to think of himself as below everyone, so that he considers his brother than him in order that, with the help of God, he may be delivered from this evil.

2. If something pushes you to criticism in any matter regarding a brother or the monastery, try to pray about the matter instead, without passing it under the judgment of your reason. If you turn within yourself through prayer, humility, and mourning, you will find a spiritual treasure—just keep pride and criticism far from you.

3. Be attentive, my child, that you not judge any soul. For God permits the one who judges his neighbor to fall, so that he learns to have sympathy for his weak brother. The mercy of God supports all of us, but if we become proud, God will remove His grace and we shall become worse than the others. It is one thing to condemn someone and another to be fought by thoughts of condemnation. To condemn is a terrible passion, but to be fought by such thoughts and to fight back—this is an occasion for crowns.

4. Each person must bear the weaknesses of others. Who is perfect? Who can boast that he has kept his heart undefiled? Hence, we are all sick, and whoever condemns his brother does not perceive that he himself is sick, because a sick person does not condemn another sick person. Love, endure, overlook, do not get angry, do not flare up, forgive one another, so that you resemble our Christ and are counted worthy to be near Him in His kingdom. My children, avoid condemnation—it is a very great sin. God is greatly saddened when we condemn and loathe people. Let us concern ourselves only with our own faults—for these we should feel pain. Let us condemn ourselves and then we shall find mercy and grace from God.

5. Love one another, and do not be embittered out of egotism. Humility is a sure guide; it does not let the one who possesses it hit the reefs of carelessness and be shipwrecked, but as a luminous guide it leads him faultlessly on sure ground. Egotism is the most evil of evils; it causes all our lapses through unsubmissive thoughts. Fear this and strive to get rid of it, for the more it remains within us, the more it will wound us with the proportionate pain. I beg that you not criticize one another, for this is downright egotism. Excuse your brother’s fault; this is evidence of humility and love. The brother who acts thus will find much grace from God, but he who judges and scandalizes his neighbor should know that not only will he not find grace, but even if he has something he will lose it, so that he may learn the lesson of humility through suffering. Be particularly afraid of inner criticism, that is, thoughts of criticism, because it does not come to light through the spoken word, in which case it is likely to be corrected by someone who hears it. Be careful, I say, about criticism from within, which imperceptibly makes us fatally guilty and deprives us of the life of divine grace and offers as a most bitter drink the death of the soul. I pray that love and freedom from criticism will reign in every expression among you, so that the Holy Spirit may rest in your souls.


6. Experience has shown that it is wrong to accuse and condemn someone without letting him defend himself. As also the sacred Gospel says: “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (Jn. 7:51 ). If we are not attentive, many sins of condemning others heap up within us, and then repentance is needed. How often a person repents because he spoke! Let us bear in mind the words of Abba Arsenios: “I have often repented for speaking, but I have never repented for keeping silent”. If we are often deceived by the sense of touch, how much more so we are by people’s words. Therefore, much attention is needed, for the devil prowls around roaring to devour us (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8 ). A Christian ought to be like the many-eyed Cherubim, for evil has multiplied greatly, especially the sin of condemnation, which is a common as “bread and cheese”. May God cleanse us and sanctify us for His glory. “Do not let the sun go down on the wrath of your brother” (cf. Eph. 4:26 ). That is, let no one be angry and enraged against his brother past the setting of the sun. have you heard about that brother who was negligent and lazy, who did not go to the all-night vigils and did not do his duties, whom the brethren knew to be a negligent monk? When he fell ill and the hour of his death drew near, the brethren gathered to hear something beneficial, or to comfort him, or in case he wanted to say something to them, but they saw him joyful, cheerful. One brother was scandalized and said, “What is this we see in you, brother? We see that you are joyful even though you are approaching death. But we have the thought that you were not a violent* monk, so how do you have such courage and a cheerful face? How do you justify yourself?” “Yes, brethren”, he said, “indeed I was a negligent person and I did not fulfill my duties. But I achieved one good thing, by the grace of God: not to condemn any brother and not to scandalize anyone; and never did I let my heart have something against any brother of the monastery when the sun set. And inasmuch as I did not judge any brother, I believe that God will not judge me either, for He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Mt. 7:1 ) and since I did not judge, I will not be judged”. The brethren marveled and said, “Brother, you found the way of salvation very easily”. And the brother died with much joy. Do you see how the Fathers struggled and how they found the way of salvation?

*A “violent” or “forceful” monk or person is one who strives vigorously to “do violence to his nature constantly” (Ladder 1:4 ), for “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt. 11:12 ).

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 26/3/2011, 02:50

Chapter Nine.

On Silence, Idle Talk, and Boldness

Compel yourself in silence, the mother of all godly virtues. Keep silent in order to say the prayer. For when one speaks, how is it possible to avoid idle talk, which gives rise to every evil word, which weighs the soul down with blame? At your work, flee conversation; only speak in moderation when necessary. Let the hands work for the needs of the body, and let the nous say the sweetest name of Christ, so that the need of the soul, which we must not forget even for a moment, will also be provided for.

2. Do not grieve for me, my child, but struggle ardently. Struggle in silence, prayer, and mourning, and you will find the elements of eternal life. Compel yourself; close your mouth both in joy and in mourning. This is a mark of experience, so that both states are kept safely. For the mouth does not know how to guard riches. Silence is the greatest and most fruitful virtue; for this reason the God-bearing Fathers called it sinlessness. Silence and stillness, one and the same thing. The first divine fruit of silence is mourning—godly sorrow, joyful sadness. Afterwards come luminous thoughts, which bring the holy flow of life-streaming tears, through which the second baptism* occurs and by which the soul is purified, shines, and becomes like the angels. Where shall I place, child of Jesus, the spiritual visions springing forth from silence? How the eyes of the intellect are opened and see Jesus with sweetness greater than that of honey! What a novel wonder is worked from lawful silence and an attentive intellect! You know these things, so struggle. I have revealed a little to you; compel yourself and you will find yet greater. I keep you in my prayers just as I promised you. I wonder, are you ready?
*The Holy Fathers speak of four “baptisms”: (1 ) the Mystery of Baptism; (2 ) the baptism of tears of repentance; (3 ) the baptism of tonsure into the monastic schema; and (4 ) the baptism of blood, i.e., martyrdom.

3. Do not speak unnecessary words, my child, for they chill your soul’s divine zeal. Love silence, which gives birth to all virtues and fences in the soul so that the devil’s evil does not approach it. “Better to fall from a height than with the tongue”. The tongue does the greatest harm to man.

4. Salvation is not gained when we speak idly or when we pass our days without keeping accounts. Be careful with your tongue and your thoughts, for guarding them fills the soul with the light of God. But he whose mouth is unbridled deposits various impurities in his soul.

5. Flee from idle words and laughter if you want your prayer to have boldness through tears and grace! Constantly say the prayer intensely, with zeal, with longing; only thus does one become strong in soul. Avoid idle words at all costs, for they weaken the soul and then it does not have the strength to struggle. This is no time for daydreaming, but a season for spiritual profit. Who can guarantee that after going to sleep, we shall wake up? Therefore, let us compel ourselves.

6. When one keeps silent, he is given time and freedom for prayer and concentration; but when he passes his hour carelessly, he does not have time to pray. Furthermore, through his careless speech he accumulates various sins. For this reason the Holy Fathers placed the virtue of silence at the summit of the virtues, for without it no virtue is able to remain in the soul of man.

7. Always be prudent in your words; that is, first think and then speak; do not let your tongue run ahead before you think what you have to say. Do not become bold in talking much, my child; many are the evils from this evil boldness. Flee from it as from fire or a viper!


8. Guard yourself from boldness in talking and untimely words; they dry up the soul of man. Silence, meekness, and the prayer, on the other hand, fill the soul with heavenly dew, with mourning full of sweetness. Despise idle talk as the mother of coldness and dryness*, for idle talk drives the tears away from our eyes; that is, it takes them away from us and our soul withers.

9. My child, have patience, humility, and love, and guard your tongue, for when it defeats a person, it becomes an irrepressible evil for him, sweeping away also other people in its course and casting them down into the abysses of sin. Yes, my child, you must guard your mouth so that your heart may be kept pure. And when it stays pure, God comes and dwells in it, and then it becomes a temple of God. The holy angels rejoice to be in such a heart! Likewise, drive away filthy thoughts with anger and the prayer; the prayer is a fire that burns and expels the demons.


10. Be careful with your mouth, but primarily with your mind; do not let evil thoughts start talking with you. Do not let your mouth say words that could perhaps wound your brother. Let your mouth put forth words which are fragrant: words of consolation, courage, and hope. It is a person’s mouth that reveals his interior, his inner man.

11. Struggle, my child, as much as you can to become forceful—force yourself in everything, especially in silence and in mournful tears. When silence is practiced with knowledge and maintained with tears, the foundation stone of monasticism is set, on which the secure house will be built wherein the soul will find spiritual warmth and comfort. It is a bad omen for the soul’s future if silence is not kept, since one who is not silent scatters whatever he gathers; for a monk who is free with his mouth will be disorderly in everything. When we are silent, we have the time for interior prayer, which brings full assurance, and the time for luminous thoughts, which fill the intellect and heart with light. Therefore, my child, compel yourself in everything, for the good beginning is praised, but the negligent beginning is censured, for its end is most lamentable.

12. We have so much material offered by the devil, the world, and our carelessness to talk about idly, so many events and stories that are taking place and will take place, that we have plenty to occupy ourselves with; while “the one thing needful”, to approach God through prayer, we have laid aside. Our need for this spiritual turning to God is so urgent that nothing else should preoccupy us other than how to be close to God by means of prayer and holy thoughts, which also greatly help us achieve this goal.


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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 27/3/2011, 02:36

Chapter Ten.

On Pride, Self-Reproach, and Humility.

1.
Be attentive to your thoughts. Your attention should mainly be turned to gathering humble thoughts. For humility saves man, and it is the chief aim of all spiritual pursuits. To see whether you have made spiritual progress in monasticism, search yourselves, and if you discover humility within yourselves, then you have made spiritual progress in proportion to the amount of humility you have. If instead of humility we see pride and egotism and their consequences, then we need to grieve and weep and mourn for our miserable condition, that the Lord may have compassion on us. Let us flee far away from egotism; it emits an unbearable stench, and miserable is the person who possesses this as his wealth. Such a person will never find peace, not only because of the annoyance of the passions lurking in him, but also because he is far away from true humility. Rest for the soul is only granted to man through humility and meekness. This is what the Lord says to us: “Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29 ). For this reason, my dearly beloved children, let us love with all our soul the humility of our Christ together with His meekness, and then indeed we shall find, just as He said, manifold repose for our souls. It is not easy to acquire humility; much labor and time are needed. To put egotism to death requires that we sacrifice ourselves. Let us trample our ego underfoot and embrace perfect self-denial. Let us fall in love with obedience, and then with bloody struggles, by the help of God, the death of the ego will be achieved. Onward therefore, my children, let us run like athletes in the stadium of the glorious race, where the victor will be crowned with the unfading crown of eternal glory before the lofty throne of our most sweet God. I beg you, do not lose courage in the battle, for the Lord with a hidden hand will strengthen us so that we will vanquish the demon of egotism, and He will clothe us in the divinely woven robe of holy humility. I write you these things and pray that these few words will fall like seeds into the good soil of your souls and bear a hundredfold the fruit of life eternal! Amen; so be it.

2. If we have struggled to acquire humility, we have inherited a luxurious garment. If we have love, we have prepared this garment most elegantly. If we have obtained unquestioning obedience, then have we beautified it with colors and luster, and if we have labored at unceasing prayer, we have sprinkled it with the fragrance of the choicest myrrh. After we perfect it in this manner, we shall wear it and appear at the judgment seat of Christ with boldness and heavenly joy. Then the Lord of glory will smell a scent of spiritual fragrance and joyously open the infinite treasures of graces to us. Then indeed we shall be rich!

3. You, my child, should look only at yourself. You lack humility; your pride and obstinacy are causing those thoughts which you wrote about. If you humble yourself, if you blame yourself in all temptations and believe that you suffer them because of your passions and that the Elder and the brothers are not in fault, then immediately you will sense relief from those thoughts, and your wounds will heal. If you expect to be healed by any other means—namely, that the Elder or the brothers change—you labor in vain. Evil require eradication from the root, and its root is pride, egotism, obstinacy, the will, anger, etc. All these are healed with one medicine: by casting the burden of the error and temptation on yourself. Always say: “It is my fault; I am the cause; because of my passions I suffer; the cause of my evils is no one else but me, the thrice-wretched one”. Yes, my child, this is the highest truth, the true reality. Walk in accordance with what I advise; walk along these guidelines, and you will truly find the health and cure of your soul.

4. Since we have pride—whether apparent or hidden without our realizing it—God, desiring to purify us from this stinking condition, raises a storm in order to cast out all the “dregs” which have accumulated mainly in a time of spiritual negligence. All kinds of rubbish and refuse are thrown into the sea, especially in the harbor, and if there were no storms, the sea would become a source of pestilence. But the fact that the sea is pure and wholesome is due to the occasional storms. Spiritually, the same thing happens with our soul: with the sea of our soul. Refuse accumulates little by little from our various passions and careless deeds, and the devil throws in his own trash, too. We do not see how much refuse has accumulated. God knows, however, and since He wants to purify us, He stirs up storms in proportion to the accumulation of refuse, and thus He purifies the sea of our soul. Sometimes, after we pass through a temptation with patience, we see that our soul is calmed, joyful, and light as air. On our part, we must be careful not to accumulate refuse, so that storms of corresponding magnitude do not become necessary. Storms are stirred up also in saints, but those are of another nature, they have another purpose: sometimes a trial helps them become more holy, or it is for their greater glory, or it is so that they may glorify God more, or it has to do with the storms raised against Orthodoxy, etc. So to it, my child, that you have much humility, obedience to the advice of your Elder, love for all, and that you never trust your thoughts, but follow faithfully the suggestions of your Elder.


5. Never become overconfident in yourselves; never accept the thought that you are good and virtuous. Reproach yourselves; accuse yourselves inwardly in order to slay your ego, which is the wall that blocks the Sun of Righteousness, Christ, so that His rays do not reach us to illumine our nous with the knowledge of God and of self. Love humility in everything, for our Jesus showed the example for us. When? When He girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples and said, “Do you know what I have done to you?” (Jn. 13:12 ). That is, just as I humbled myself by washing your feet, you too should humble yourselves to one another.

6. Learn the monastic way of humility: whenever you are ordered to do something by the Elder, say, “May it be blessed”. And whenever he censures you, say, “Bless”. Through humility, contact with the divine occurs sooner, for our Christ says, “Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29 ). Rest for the soul is the truest sign of a healthy soul. Humble yourselves; degrade yourselves; abase yourselves, that the peace of God may come into your souls. Do not justify yourselves when the Elder reproves you for one of your faults, but say, “Bless”.

7. Let us love the humble disposition, my child, and if the Lord pities our nakedness and sends us some ability to pray and clothes our soul with some divine garment, we must be cautious lest we soil it out of carelessness: that is, through pride, criticism, negligence, disobedience, etc. But let us make a greater effort to whiten it through good works, especially through humble-mindedness and self-reproach. God is pleased more with these than with great works done with vainglory. Always have perfect obedience. Obedience is the offspring of humility. Whereas back talk, quarrels, and disobedience are the offspring of pride, which a monk must hate as the causes of his soul’s defilement.


8. Always seek in your prayers first and foremost that God grant you humble-mindedness. Persist in this request of yours, for without true humble-mindedness nothing good or worth a reward is achieved. Just as the Apostle Paul says: “What do you have that you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7 ). “Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 16:5 ). Therefore, my child, struggle against this miserable passion by being humble-minded and contemplating what great humility the Lord of glory showed in becoming man and humbling Himself to the point of abuse, slander, and the Cross. But also all the holy people of God showed exceptional humility, by which they became holy and attested to us that there is no road leading to salvation other than this. Espouse whatever gives you humility, even if it hurts and makes you feel as if you were dying. The outcome of the pain will be a blessing from God and progress towards the most excellent of virtues, humility. I pray that our God, Jesus, will grant you this indelibly within your soul.


9. The whole essence of the matter, my child, is this: you are being attacked by a spirit of pride along with her sisters, vainglory and arrogance, along with their helpers, filthy and blasphemous thoughts. Know, my child, that the spirit of pride is difficult to overcome; the spirit of vainglory is many-headed and thorny. No matter how you change your thoughts or your way of life, you will find it in front of you like a thorn. And if this is how things are, what can we do? We should employ every means, whether mental or material, that leads us towards humility. Above all we have to coerce our mind to think humbly, and leave it to Divine Providence to arrange the deliverance from or reduction of this passion. On our part, we should persevere with a fighting spirit, and God, in proportion to our struggle, will intervene as a succor and helper. About the dreadful passion of vainglory, St. John of the Ladder says: “Vainglory till the tomb”, that is, until we die we will be attacked by vainglory, with the difference that it will be weakened by the war against it and by long experience of its falsehood. Weep before God so that He grants you a spirit of humility, for only through this will you advance towards higher things, towards the love of God. Spiritual progress is nothing but the acquisition of humble-mindedness. Jesus, even though He is God, humbled Himself so much, and we who are lowly by nature, exalt ourselves and fluff out the feathers of vainglory like a peacock. However, when He throws us into some temptation and we peacocks see the ugliness of our feet, that is, the rotten condition of our soul, then we recognize what we, the race of Adam, are by nature, and that our pride is not humbled except by slaps and falls. Tears and mourning bring much humility, therefore ask patiently from the Giver of good things. Pray: “Do not overlook me the prodigal one, O Thou Who wast born of a virgin; do not overlook my tears, O joy of the angels, but receive me in repentance and save me”. I pray that Jesus, the humble of heart, may give you His heart, so that you may experience His humility.

10. Humility is a wonderful virtue, which makes fragrant the one who has it. He who has humility also has obedience, love, patience, and every virtue. When we get angry, or become enraged, or criticize, or do not obey, it is evident that we have a corresponding amount of pride and egotism. The more we progress in humility, the more the evil offspring of egotism will retreat. My children, let us humble ourselves for the Lord Who humbled Himself for us. The Lord showed so much humility, even to the point of crucifixion. So shouldn’t we, who are lowly by nature, bow our head to our brother? Do we expect always to get our own way? If we want Jesus to dwell within our heart, let us love and humble ourselves like Christ. Let us not grieve Him any more with egotistic manifestations. Let us not crucify Him again with expressions and conduct lacking brotherly love. No more bitterness in the holy heart of our most sweet Christ.

silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 28/3/2011, 02:09


Chapter Ten.

On Pride, Self-Reproach, and Humility.


11. The angels were in Heaven in glory and hymns; men were happy in their mansions; but God the Creator was within a cave and in a manger of animals, as the last pauper! What humility of our Jesus! Acquire this humility, my children. Humility is the most grace-filled virtue, a garment interwoven with gold. Blessed is the one clothed in it; he will acquire an ineffable spiritual beauty. On the contrary, the most filthy passion is egotistical pride.


12. I entreat our Panagia very much that She grant me humility in all things, for it is a fundamental virtue, and without it the grace of the All-holy Spirit does not validate any of our work! When the Archbishop of Alexandria, Theophilos, visited the fathers of Mount Nitria, he asked the Elder of the mountain, “What have you found, Father, more than us in this way of ascesis?” And the venerable one replied, “To reproach myself at all times”. “Truly”, replied Theophilos, “there is no shorter road to God than this!” Didn’t Lucifer and Adam fall away from God through pride and rebellion? Wasn’t Adam saved by the humility of the Theotokos—“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38 )—and of the Son of God, Who was born of Her without change, Who taught and practiced extreme humility? He also said, “Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29 ). Whenever a person looks upon himself with humble thoughts and self-reproach, he will see in his soul a sweet repose, peace, consolation, relief, and hope! While on the contrary, what shows him his pride of soul is restlessness, agitation, wrath, boasting, haughty tendencies, and so on. Ah, how effortless the road of humility is! Even without laboring ascetically or enduring illness, a person with humility and self-reproach, along with thanksgiving to God, is able to reach spiritual heights and feel the gift of sonship! While on the contrary, toiling ascetically without realizing one’s own infirmity and weakness and wretchedness is a struggle without prizes, sweat without wages, a road without hope. What a misfortune to struggle without profit! To cultivate without reaping! Why does this happen? Because the struggle was not lawful. “If someone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5 ). Even in physical competitions an athlete is not crowned if he does not struggle lawfully.

13. Our holy God lets temptations come upon those who love Him in order to teach them the art of war. The grace of God withdraws and then clouds of temptations rise and one reaches the point of saying, “See! God has abandoned me!” Then he has myriads of thoughts, strangulation of soul, and darkness and lapses everywhere! Holy Wisdom, our holy God, causes all these, and we learn that only God is able to save us and that without God all our own works are rubbish and chaff, which all scatter with the slightest wind of temptation, and it becomes apparent that we are rusty things, feeble and unable to face any temptation whatsoever without the aid of our holy God’s grace. Through such things the grace of divine providence teaches us the lesson of self-knowledge; that is, of true, cognizant, solid, bedrock humility; for without it, it is impossible to build a spiritual house. He abandons us to the point of despair, so that we are compelled to cry out to Him mournfully and lamentably, so that our mouth and heart may be sanctified. Temptations, therefore, bring about all these things. Indeed, let us pray that God will protect us from temptations, but when they come, we must pass through them with patience and wisdom to profit from them. Therefore, have patience in all things and thus save yourself.

14.
My child, as a rule you should have continual self-reproach. In every controversy, do a prostration first; thus you receive the crown first, and you cause your brother to repent. At all times reflect on the Lord Who humbled Himself, so that your soul is ready to endure every kind of humiliation for His love. That which plays the most important role in the spiritual struggle is for a person to learn to humble himself, reproach himself, and justify his neighbor. Whoever has learned this philosophy is surely gathering already the most sweet fruit of freedom from passions. Otherwise, he will drag his passions along with him to his great and constant grief. My child, reproach yourself constantly. Do not consider yourself to be right; whenever you hear something bad being said about you, say, “My brothers are right; that is how I am. I deserve even more slander because of my sins”. Always consider yourself lower than everyone and refrain from giving orders as one having authority. In short, humility in everything.

15.
Always reckon yourself as very sinful and polluted, so that Jesus Christ may have sympathy for you and send you mercy and forgiveness of your many sins. Have obedience to all the brethren; become last of all, the lowest, if you want your passions and weaknesses to depart from you. Never justify yourself, neither in word nor in thought, but always condemn yourself as the one being at fault and deserving many blows. Have faith in the Elder, obedience and love to his words, and confess frankly each of your thoughts, for frank confession is characteristic of a humble soul.

16. Reproach yourself continually, for self-reproach is an offspring and fruit of a humble heart, and in a humble heart the Divine manifests itself, as it knows best. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Examine each of your falls carefully and you will perceive that, to a greater or lesser degree, the seed of pride was the chief cause of the fall.

17. Keep in mind the existence of your ego; it causes every evil. Humble yourself; strangle your ego, which comes like a venomous serpent to poison your soul. Do not allow any proud thoughts to remain within you; only thus will you foil every activity of Satan. The holy Triodion (The Triodion is the period of fasting and repentance preceding Pascha ) begins with the beautiful example of the Publican and the Pharisee to instruct us that through a humble mind anyone can acquire justification, that is, the forgiveness of his sins from God. Likewise this parable also reveals the great evil—pride—which acts as a mighty obstacle for the forgiveness of sins, in spite of practicing all the other virtues and especially almsgiving. From this and from many other Scriptural truths, we are taught that without humility and true repentance a person cannot be saved, even if he prospers in the other virtues.

18. Do not be obstinate, but humble; do not think that you are something, for this is pride, and God loathes the proud. My child, always assume that you are the most sinful person in the world and that, if the grace of God abandons you, you will do all the evil things in the world! Always accuse yourself. Whenever you go to receive communion, accuse yourself as unworthy to receive Christ the Master within you who are so sinful. You must weep when you receive Holy Communion for Christ to have compassion on you for your sins. “Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29 ). Do you see, my child? Meekness is the fruit of humility, and both bestow God’s blessed rest. Grass does not sprout in trampled ground; likewise, passions and wickedness do not sprout in a humble soul. As long as we lack humility, God will not stop humbling us through trials, until we learn this serious and life-saving lesson.


19. Onward, my children! Gird yourselves with the spiritual towel of Christ’s humility (vid. Jn. 13:12 ) and submit to everything, so as to receive the Lord of all in your heart. Our Christ does not rest in a soul lacking the fragrance of humility, but rather departs because of its malodorous pride. I entreat you with all my heart, detest talking back, quarreling, disobedience, self-will, boldness and every other passionate state, for all these drive away God’s love and bring bitterness into the soul instead. Be sincere in everything you show and express: do not tell lies; speak the truth. Do not look at the spiritual illnesses of your brethren struggling together with you, for you will be greatly harmed. But rather, sympathetically overlook their illnesses for the sake of the Lord, so that He may also deem your own illnesses worthy of sympathy. Never think anything great about yourselves, so that you are not abandoned by the grace of God which is guarding you, and a great trial befalls you.

20. There is no greater evil than egotism. It gives birth to all temptations and troubles, and woe to whomever it entangles—it will deform him! Only the good disciple will make his soul angelic with spiritual beauty. Do not let time pass unfruitfully, for the yarn is being wound, and suddenly we shall hear, “Put your house in order, for you will die; you will live no longer!” (Is. 38:1 ). Strike egotism with all your might; learn humility. Work with contrition, with mourning, with the fragrance of humility. Only deeds which have humility will be rewarded. The deeds poisoned by egotism and self-will will be taken by the four winds and scattered like rubbish, and we shall be left empty-handed. Let us come to our senses. Let us rejoice with the unadulterated love of Christ, for passionate souls will not enter into the heavenly Jerusalem. Only pure souls will enter there with joy and delight.

21.
Yes, my dearly beloved children, truly we lack this most holy virtue, humility. Egotism, this evil wickedness, has caused all the sufferings of man. Indeed, humility is holiness! Why do we clash over a trifle? Because we do not have humility. He who has humility wards off troubles. Without true humility, troubles remain intact and increase, such that all hope of correction is lost. A humble person does not remember any past wrings which his neighbor did to him, but with all his heart forgives and forgets everything for the love of God. Beg our humble Jesus in your prayers to give you a spirit of humble-mindedness and meekness.

22. Humble yourself and reproach yourself. Do not justify yourself, even if you are absolutely right, for self-justification is not conducive to the healing of our spiritual illness. My daughter, try to please the Eldress, and the Spirit of God will overshadow you. Become a humble bride of Christ. The egotism is abominable to the most beautiful Bridegroom Christ. The Bridegroom is humble and meek; will the bride be a proud, ill-tempered soul? If you want to be fragrant, embrace a humble, simple, obedient, and meek spirit. Despise egotism as a stench and stupidity. You do very well to reproach yourself in everything. This path is most true to the Fathers. Yes, my child, implant this manner of life deeply within your dear little soul and you will benefit enormously.


silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 29/3/2011, 00:03

Chapter Ten.

On Pride, Self-Reproach, and Humility.



23. What is more beautiful than spiritual forcefulness? Indeed, it gives a hidden but perfect joy along with a holy, promising future. Therefore, my child, struggle in holy self-reproach. Continually reproach yourself; cast the blame upon yourself and cry out: “My Jesus, here too I am at fault; neither the devil nor any person, but my evil self is at fault, because I don’t pay attention to where I walk. Cast light upon the path of my life, send the dew of humility into my heart, so that I may feel Thee, my meek and humble Jesus. Do not disregard my tears, O joy of the angels, but accept them as a fragrant scent and grant me the petitions of my heart, so that I may find relief, and chant as an ecstatic youth the triumphal hymn of Thy glory”. Concentrate on yourself and see everything with a simple eye and as something that need not concern you. Work according to your strength and with a pure conscience. Pray for yourself and for all your brethren. May your love cover everything and may you fly over snares like a soaring eagle.

24. Be careful, my daughter, with your way of life. Be more meek, more tolerant; be humble, yielding. All these are characteristic of self-knowledge. Blame yourself, saying, “if you think that the sisters scorn you and do not pay attention to you, and so forth, they do well to you. You are getting what you deserve for your deeds. For if you were worthy of attention, they would regard you; but because you are unworthy, an egotist, a grumbler, God allows this for you to be humbled. So how long will you fail to understand that you are such, and worse!” By this and other means, smite yourself as with a club in order to smash the head of the dreadful beast which is called egotism! It is responsible for everything. Therefore, let us direct all our efforts against it. And if with God’s help we humble it, immediately the vile passions of the bipartite* man will wither. Reflect that God has given us everything: body, soul, mind, heart, earth, air, nourishment, breath, freedom in Christ, faith in Him, His heavenly Kingdom, deliverance from hell, the holy mysteries, the holy guardian of our soul, and above all, His invincible power, which He gives us in our battles; moreover, He has even given Himself to us. How and for what can I boast, since God has given me everything and I have nothing of my own? Even if I think something good, the source of good is God; even my mind which thought it is God’s. I have done something spiritual, and whether the heart or the body did it, both are God’s. What is mine is the will, yet even the will is aided by Him. So all things derive from the true source, God. What do we have, my child, that is not from God? From this point on we enter the domain of self-knowledge, of humility. What is the universe, in comparison with God’s infinitude? Then what part of anything is man because of his nothingness, who boasts and is proud of his nothingness? So this is the unshakeable truth: “His truth will encompass you like a shield” (Ps. 90:5 ). With these truths you are very capable of opposing Satan powerfully.


*According to the vast majority of the Holy Fathers, man is bipartite: consisting of soul and body. A local synod in Greece in the late nineteenth century condemned Apostolos Makrakis for promulgating the theory that man is tripartite (i.e. body, soul, spirit ).

25. Fight the good fight, my child. Do not fear; break away from every fetter of despair. God chose the weak and useless in order to shame those who think themselves healthy and useful. The power of God is more clearly manifest in weak creatures, and at the same time this choice of God pushes us towards involuntary humility, and impels us to send up like fragrant incense unlimited thanksgiving and gratitude to Him! My child, God has shown much love to you. Therefore remain in God’s bosom with humility, that you may be exalted with divine enjoyment. Be careful of the spirit of arrogance. Do not think that you have something that others do not have, for the Holy Spirit distributes Himself to each one of us as He wills. To one He appears as love, to another as wisdom, to another as knowledge, to another as great fear of God—one and the same Spirit. That is, all partake of the Holy Spirit, not according to one’s works, but according to one’s humility! Nothing else in the absence of good deeds is capable of making us sons of God, other than the realization of our own weakness and the majesty of God. Without humility, our work lacks the seal of approval. When it partakes of humility, immediately it becomes valid. God seeks useless beings: “Go out into the streets and into the roads and find as many as are poor, maimed, sick, lame, and compel them all to come in so that my house may be filled, for those who were called, who considered themselves blameless, shall not taste my Supper” (cf. Lk. 14:21-24 ). How joyful it is that we, too, are included among the useless beings because of our weaknesses and that He has called us into His house to make us His courtiers and friends, so that we may hear in our heart’s chamber the divine voices of the heavenly bodiless powers! You see, my child, that the evil one is lying when he tells you that you are physically useless and are not fit to be a monk. It is important that the soul be healthy—humble, that is, with self-knowledge. God does not desire an offering of health in order to give grace, for He is not a human with needs, but God without needs. It is He Who allows sicknesses, too. And once He has healed the soul through them, He has achieved His purpose. Health of body is not necessary to Him; love and humility are necessary to Him and beneficial to us.

26. Thoughts of both pride and vainglory are formidable and difficult to fight against. But before the humility of Jesus, they literally lose their strength. “The truth shall set you free from every sin and passion” (cf. Jn. 8:32 ). The Holy Fathers write: “When you see Pilate and Herod reconcile, know that they are preparing to kill Jesus. And when you see vainglory and pride attacking you, know that they are plotting to destroy your soul!” Fear and trembling should seize you when you discern such thoughts; for in proportion to the magnitude of your pride, the providence of God prepares to chasten you with trials so that you may learn to think humbly. Force yourself to be humble, and when you see thoughts of pride, lay hold of a whip and start lashing* yourself. The bodily pain will drive away the pain of your soul, and God, Who sees how much you are struggling, will provide you with the corresponding strength, for according to our intention and struggle, Jesus sends His almighty power. Just think how many people have preached, written, and dogmatized; they filled the world with books, as did Origen who wrote many books and saved many people and strengthened a multitude of others to become martyrs; yet in the end he was labeled as the founder of a heresy and fell away from God. Alas! How much evil does pride create in man! God reckons no man’s works as his own, since man is merely a faucet, a tap—not the spring! And how can the faucet consider the water flowing through it as its own work, since it knows that the spring causes the water to flow? Even so, forgetfulness is a most evil teacher of the soul, for had it remembered the truth, it would not have gone mad. What made Lucifer fall? Was it not haughty thinking? Let this be a lesson for us, for one acquires experience and caution not only from one’s own misfortunes, but also from one’s neighbor’s. How did great ascetics, who had renounced everything, fall and reach the point of demonic possession and then return to the world so that monasticism was blamed? They fell because they thought that they were better and more virtuous than the others, and that they were supposedly accomplishing something.

*The Elder is not referring to masochism, but suggests counteracting sinful inclinations with physical pain. Similar techniques were used by Sts. Benedict, Epiphanios, Nephon, and many other saints.

27. Since we already know very well that the hunter of our souls has set and laid traps everywhere, let us not be drowsy. Whether at a store or in town, in the comfort of one’s family or even in the church of God, we must watch out for the traps that happen to be set under the pretense of piety. Who is able to be delivered from these camouflaged traps and ridicule their masterly craftsman? Behold—let us use the broad experience of our Holy Monastic Fathers to destroy them. They teach that it is essentially only the exalting virtue of humility that is almighty—a sword of the Spirit that destroys evil at its root and completely disables the traps of the tempter. So let us toil to acquire this most salvific virtue of humility that destroys the devil!

28. Once a demon met St. Macarios the Great and said to him, “Macarios, what do you do more than us by sitting in the desert? I reside in the desert, too; you fast, but I never eat; you pursue poverty, but I own nothing; Ah, Macarios, you have one thing that vanquishes me that I am unable to resist”. “What do I have?” asked Macarios. “HUMILITY! It burns me!” And as soon as he said this, he disappeared. Let us make a little effort to acquire this saving virtue. The effort consists of constantly beseeching our God, Who is able to grant us everything. Let us be assured that we shall receive this virtue when with pain and patience and persistence we knock at the door of mercy, which opens easily when we use the key of the wronged widow in the Holy Gospel (vid. Lk. 18:2-5 ). Let us shake off the burden of indolence, and let us imitate the clear-sightedness of the deer by quickly hastening to our God at every temptation and by seeking His assistance. In this way we can defeat Goliath the barbarian and glorify the majesty of the kingdom to which we belong—the majesty of the kingdom of God.

29. When the evil spirit of pride fights against us, we shall never stop falling. But falls make us aware of our wretchedness and help us attain humility. Then Christ comes, Who is humble of heart and meek in soul. Then joy, peace, and sweetness will rein in our soul, and blessedness will warm our heart.

30. Compel yourselves, my children, in the spiritual struggle. Do not forget the vast experience of the devil and our own weakness. Just as a leaf in autumn falls at the slightest wind, likewise we fall at the slightest temptation or trial when the grace of God does not assist us. And when does the grace of God assist us? Only when humility guides our every thought and deed.

31. May true and genuine humble-mindedness increase in your soul, through which the fruit of the soul is preserved. Satan tries to make those who struggle forget their goal. He succeeds in doing so if he can make them grow proud so that they think it was by their own progress and forcefulness that they acquired this or that virtue. In this way, the labor remains without a reward—a struggle without hope, work without pay.

32. The voice you heard saying to you: “Christ has purged you of your sins and deadened your passions”, is from the devil. It is the first stepping-stone that leads man to delusion and destruction. If one listens and pays attention to him and his heart is sweetened and he accepts these words of the devil as true, immediately the devil comes more tangibly to him, and gradually he is overcome. Then it takes much toil to be freed. This is why, my child, you did well not to pay attention to that voice, and to criticize yourself instead. Next time you hear something, say: “I will tell it to my Elder and will do whatever he tells me”. The devil greatly fears confession to one’s Elder, because he knows that all his traps will be ruined! You should realize, my child, that thoughts of conceit (of pride, in other words ) have sprouted within you, and this is why this happened to you. Be careful. Have much humility. Every day entreat God to grant you a spirit of humility. Just as nothing grows on a trodden path, likewise no delusion grows in a trodden humble spirit.


silver

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Επισκόπηση του προφίλ των χρηστών

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 30/3/2011, 01:57


Chapter Ten.


Excerpt from a Homily, “On Humility”.

We need to be very careful; let us attend to ourselves and fear God. Fear is light, it is a lamp; the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God and the end of wisdom is the fear of God (cf. Prov. 1:7 ). Fear precedes even the love of Christ. When the love of Christ is acquired, fear is still mingled with love, for love can lead one to take liberties and thus depart from proper love. Fear is the brake that restrains a person. Whenever we see within us malice, envy, criticism, grumbling, and whatever else is of the devil, we should realize that we do not have a pure heart. If we had a pure heart we would not be offended even if people insulted and derided us. The fact that we are offended, bothered, embittered, shows that our heart is not pure. We lack humble-mindedness; humble-mindedness makes a person tolerant, forbearing, patient. When we do not have patience, when we do not have forbearance, when we are not tolerant, when we do not endure patiently, this is characteristic of a lack of the most fundamental virtues—humble-mindedness and love—which take us closer to the goal, which is purity. When genuine spiritual love and humble-mindedness do not exist, then we have not reached our goal. A person does not need erudition and great knowledge to achieve purity. When I reflect that I have sacrificed everything in order to reach this goal, I cannot make excuses to justify myself. If we make excuses, we are defeating the purpose. It is not so much a question of whether or not the other person is at fault, as it is whether or not I really love my brother, or whether or not I feel that my heart is heavy. It is my fault; I need to change my soul and love him, even though within myself I feel bitterness towards him because he reproved me once or because he does not think well of me. If I have a dark and somewhat bitter image of him within myself, this burdens only me. That brother may indeed be thus inclined towards me; but thinking like this does not help me reach my goal. No matter how that brother is disposed towards me, if I want to reach my goal and be united to God, I must see him differently. For this reason the Fathers never justified people, especially monks, if they had something against someone. One father was going to bring another brother to trial, or, rather, prosecute him. So he went to Abba Sisoes and said to him: “Father, I am going to bring charges against my brother because he has done such and such an evil to me”. “Forgive him, pardon him”. “No”, he answered, “if I pardon him he will do it to me again. This man must be punished”. “Eh, fine, my child. Let us say a prayer and then go”. So they knelt, and Abba Sisoes began praying: “Our Father…. and do not forgive us our debts, as we do not forgive our debtors…” “That’s not right, father,” he said, “you made a mistake.” “Since you want to take your brother to the judge, this is how we will pray.” Then the brother realized his mistake, repented, and did not go to denounce his brother. So there is one great truth: that just as our heart is disposed towards our brother, in the same way the heart of God will be disposed towards us. Do you want God to forgive your errors? Do you want Him to love you with all His heart? Then you too should love and forgive with all your heart. Do you want God to forget your errors and not remember them? “I want it, I desire it,” cries the soul. Then no matter how your neighbor has wronged you, neither think about it nor remember it. This is the enormous truth. So whoever departs from this goal will make many and great mistakes in his life. If we apply this patristic wisdom, the devil will have no power over us. Let all of us be attentive and compel ourselves, so that we do not lose our goal and repent bitterly tomorrow. We must keep these things in mind and work as if it were our last day. Our aim is one: to come to see ourselves, to see our own guilt, and to reprove ourselves in everything, to criticize ourselves, to consider ourselves responsible and guilty, and to pay no attention as to whether our neighbor is guilty or not. The Fathers say, “if we desire to bring peace to ourselves by trying to reconcile others, we shall never have peace”. That is, if we want to derive peace from others becoming peaceful, we shall not be at peace. So a person must find peace within himself, internally. “Make peace within yourself,” says Abba Isaac, “and then heaven and earth will make peace with you.” Let us ingrain this indelibly within our heart, for this is the spiritual wealth that the holy Gospel and the patristic texts give us to save our wretched souls!

silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 31/3/2011, 00:35

Chapter Eleven

On Love and Forgiveness towards the Brethren.


My children, fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12 ); let brotherly love continue (Heb. 13:1 ); may love be the center of all actions within the synodia—may egotism be far from your thoughts and words. “Whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all” (Mk. 10:44 ), says the Lord. And if we do not become like little children in terms of innocence and simplicity, we shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 18:3 ). When love governs a synodia, Christ invisibly blesses everything; joy, peace, and self-sacrifice for the brethren are afire in the hearts of every brother—but also prayer intensifies then. The more love abounds, the more love in Christ and self-sacrifice enriches their souls, and then Christ is glorified and worshipped, and we become humble instruments for the glorification of the holy name of God. Genuine love does not envy the good gifts of one’s brother; it does not rejoice when it hears humiliating words or criticism of a brother; it does not restrain itself from constantly commending a brother’s progress. Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, but its brother’s interests; it is not provoked; it thinks no evil; it bears all things, endures all things (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-7 ). Whoever has genuine love never falls by sinning against his brother. So my children, pray that Love itself—our God—will grant you the gift of love in Christ. When this love comes to reign in our hearts, words, and deeds, then we should hope for prospects of forming a synodia in Christ with a Christian spirit, with spiritual radiance and an unshakeable foundation—a synodia closely united with one mind and one soul in many bodies.




2. My beloved children, I pray that the God of love will strengthen you in mutual love and give you the love that does not act wickedly, that does not create scandals, but rather averts them with the wisdom it engenders. I pray that the Lord will give you pure love—love which guards the mouth of him who possesses it and does not let him fall into the pit of criticism, malicious gossip, lying, hypocrisy, and the countless other evils which the lack of this true, godly love begets through the tongue. “He who has love abides in God, and God in him” (cf. 1 Jn. 4:16 ), The evidence that we are of God and that we love Him is when we have true and unadulterated love for one another. “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 Jn. 3:15 ) and is in spiritual darkness and does not know where he is going (cf. Jn. 12:35 ). We have received a very important commandment from our Lord Jesus: to love one another. Likewise, the devil has given a commandment to those who obey him, that they hate one another. Therefore, we are disciples and subjects of him whose commandment we keep. My children, let us fear coldness and enmity towards our brethren, as well as the various thoughts that accompany these attitudes, which little by little lead the soul to demonic hatred. For in this manner we subject ourselves to the devil—the enemy of our salvation—as to a master, and then innumerable evils will accumulate in our poor souls!
Love is the base, the foundation, and the roof of the soul that possesses it . When such a soul has the God of love dwelling within it, it rejoices splendidly at every moment. In a monastery, mutual love among its members is extremely necessary for its establishment and preservation, because love is the golden link that unites the brethren in every way in a closely knit body, which will withstand the temptations that the lord of enmity and hatred—the devil—will always create. Love is that invincible power that holds the members together in one body, with the abbot as the head. And every time it is necessary, this power will fight against the other completely opposite power of evil, which will endeavor to break off members from their unity. When we are lax and slack in love, the opposing power of the devil will have victories for its side corresponding to the laxity that our previously fervent and powerful love has suffered. What are the victories of the opposing power? Troubles within the brotherhood, such as back talk, disobedience, quarrels, pride, bragging, envy, hatred, and finally, deserting the monastery! Let us reflect, my children: do the angels in heaven perhaps talk back, disobey, do their own will, bear malice, hate, or desert the place where they serve before the throne of God? Of course not. This is what Lucifer did, who was once a rising star, and was cast down and became Satan! Therefore, since we have worn the angelic schema, aren’t we also obliged to live in an angelic manner? How can you be considered to be living an angelic life when I see amongst you back talk, complaining, self-will, enmity, and worst of all, disobedience? By doing so, wouldn’t you be doing the opposite of what you have been counseled to do by my lowliness? Won’t you receive a greater condemnation by doing the opposite, according to the scriptural saying that “he who knows and does not do shall be beaten with many blows” (cf. Lk. 12:47 ). That is, he will be strictly chastised with many terrible blows and punishments. Let us fear disobedience to counsels, my children, because every transgression and disobedience inevitably receives a punishment (cf. Heb. 2:2 ). On the contrary, let us struggle to apply them. Be obedient to what you have been advised to do, so that you may receive the unfading crown of love and obedience when the trophies and crowns are given by the Judge of the contest, Jesus Christ. I pray that the Christians’ Champion Lady of the world will count you worthy, through her prayers and those of all the saints, to receive this unfading crown of eternal glory!


3. My child, see to it that you drive away the evil thoughts which the devil urges you to consent* to—especially thoughts of hatred towards the brethren you should pay no attention to, because he aims to steal from you the greatest virtue: love. And if he achieves this, he has completely won your soul. Once we have lost love—God, that is, for God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him (1 Jn. 4:16 )—then what is there left to save us? My child, do not listen at all to these thoughts of hatred towards the brethren, but drive them away immediately, and start saying the prayer, or tell Satan, “The more you bring me thoughts of hatred, devil, the more I will love my brethren. For I have an order from my Christ not only to love them, but even to sacrifice myself for them, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for me, the wretch”. And at once embrace the things about them that annoy you, and say, “Just look how much I love them, O envious Satan! I will die for them!” By doing this, God sees your good intentions and the method you are using to conquer the devil, and He will come at once to your aid to deliver you.

*Consent (συγκατάθεσις )
Consent is one of the stages of temptation. St. John of the Ladder describes the stages as follows: “Assault is a simple conception or an image encountered for the first time, which has entered the heart. Coupling is mentally conversing with what has been encountered, accompanied by passion or dispassion. And consent (συγκατάθεσις ) is the yielding of the soul to what has been presented to it, accompanied by delight. But captivity is a forcible and involuntary abduction of the heart, or a permanent association with what has been encountered which destroys the good condition of our soul. Struggle is power equal to the attacking force, which either wins or loses according to the soul’s desire. Passion is primarily that which nestles with persistence in the soul for a long time, forming a habit in the soul, by its long-standing association with it, since the soul of its own accord clings to it. The first of these states is without sin, the second not always, but the third is sinful or sinless according to the state of the struggler. Struggle can earn crowns or punishments. Captivity is judged differently, according to whether it occurs at the time of prayer or at other times; whether it happens in things neither good nor bad, or in the context of evil thoughts. But passion is unequivocally condemned in every situation, and requires either corresponding repentance or future punishment. Therefore, he who regards the first assault dispassionately cuts off with one blow all the rest which follow”.
--The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 15:73.


4. I pray that the All-good God will send down upon you the All-holy Spirit, as He did to His divinely sent holy Apostles, so that you may be enlightened to walk the arduous path of salvation. “Behold now, what is so good or joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity with love?” (cf. Ps. 132:1 ). There is nothing more beautiful than for a synodia to be replete with godly love. Then, everything is radiant; everything is full of beauty, while God above delights, and the holy angelic spirits rejoice above where love is boundless. “Love one another, as I have loved you. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34,35 ). O love, whoever possesses you has a truly blessed heart, for within love, what could one possibly want and not find! Humility, joy, patience, goodness, compassion, forbearance, enlightenment, and so on, are all there. But in order to obtain this supremely wondrous love, we must constantly call upon the God of love to give it to us. When the name of God is remembered through the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”, it contains within it eternal life, and eternal life is the God of love! Therefore, he who prays this prayer obtains true, godly love. So, onwards; behold the way and means of victoriously conquering love. Take courage and bravely proceed into the battle. Say the prayer constantly: orally and noetically. It is more beneficial to say it orally during the day, because at that time the nous is scattered by one’s work.


5. The beautiful road of love is effortless, and there is neither blemish nor stain in love, but rather the conscience testifies that the soul has boldness towards God. But when there is no love, the soul has no boldness in prayer, and as one defeated and cowardly, it cannot lift its head because it feels remorse for not having loved as God has loved it; it is a transgressor of the commandment of God. If we do not love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen” (cf. 1 Jn. 4:20 ). He who has true love has God; whoever does not have love does not have God in himself. The Holy Fathers say, “If you have seen your brother, you have seen God; your salvation depends on your brother”. The holy monastic fathers of old walked the path of salvation effortlessly, because they sacrificed everything so that they would not fall away from love. Love was their goal in life. Our path, though, is completely strewn with thorns which sprouted because we lack love. And this is why when we walk, we constantly bleed. The foundations of the house shake when we do not lay the foundation of love well.


6. Compel yourself, my child, for the sake of your soul. Compel yourself to comfort the brethren, and the Lord will comfort you—He will give you His grace. Have patience, have patience. Let everyone treat you like dirt, and He will give you His grace. Great is he who has more humility. God gives grace to the person who has fear of God and obeys everyone like a small child and constantly seeks God’s holy will. Such a person never seeks that his own will be done, but the will of God and of the others. He always says, “As you wish, as you know best”. He does not give his own opinion because he considers himself lower than everyone. When they tell him to do something, he eagerly says, “May it be blessed”. So, my child, this is what you should do, too. This makes the demons tremble, flee far away, and not approach anymore. They are very afraid when they see humility, obedience, and love towards all.


7. My child, just do your duty. If the others do not obey, leave it to God and be at peace. It is due to the devil’s jealousy, my child. Will the devil go out perhaps to the mountains to create temptations? He goes wherever people are struggling for their salvation. And since we, too, are seeking our salvation, he jumbles us up without our realizing it. Carry the burden of the brethren. God rewards everyone justly. The time will come when you will see how much He will give you for the pains you went through to look after so many souls. Labor in this world; keep helping, and you will never be deprived of God’s help. Now you are sowing; the time will come for you to reap. Pray that God will make you strong in patience, discernment, enlightenment, etc. I am constantly praying for you, but I have no boldness before God, and thus my prayer bears no fruit. Just think what the Fathers went through to save others. It is no small matter; you are helping the others, which is why the devil will take it out on you and afflict you. So start showing patience and bravery, and say: “I am ready to die in the battle helping my brethren to be saved, but God will not let me perish, since I am doing it for the sake of His love”. Yes, do so, and you will see how much strength and joy you will receive in the struggle. For sometimes impatience, despair, and pessimism deprive a person of God’s grace, and then he wrongly attributes it to the burdens he is bearing. But courage, self-sacrifice, bravery, and faith in God bring the grace of God. I pray that God will invigorate your spiritual nerves to fight with renewed strength.


8. Abide in the bond of mutual love, for love is the beginning and the end—the foundation. It is on love towards God and your brothers that “all the law and the prophets hang” (cf. Mt. 22:40 ). Without love we are a clanging cymbal—a big zero. According to the Apostle Paul, even if we give our body to be burned for Christ and distribute our belongings to the poor and mortify our life with harsh ascesis for Christ, yet lack love, we have accomplished nothing (cf. 1 Cor. 13:3 ). Therefore, with all our strength we must see to it that we keep a strong hold on mutual love, so that our trivial works may be approved by Him Who examines the secret thoughts of our hearts.


9. You write, my child, about someone who kept grieving you, and you cursed him, etc. No, my child, do not curse anyone, no matter how much he has harmed you. Our Christ tells us to love our enemies, so how can we speak evil? Seek forgiveness from God, and henceforth love him as your brother, regardless of whether or not you agree with him. Didn’t Christ on the Cross forgive his crucifiers? Then how can we do otherwise? Yes, my child, we must love everyone, regardless of whether they love us or not—that is their business.

10. My child, always justify your brother and reproach yourself. Never justify your deeds. Learn to say, “Bless”—in other words, “Forgive me”—and humility will dwell within you. Have patience and overlook your brother’s faults, remembering God’s forbearance towards your own faults. Love as Jesus loves you and as you want others to love you. Hold on to silence, constant prayer, and self-reproach, and then you will see how much mourning and tears and joy you will feel. But if you fail to hold on to them, in other words, if you neglect to apply them, then coldness and dryness will replace the above graces. Love the brethren. Your love will show when, despite all your brother’s weaknesses, you count them as nothing and love him. Love will keep you from all sins. Think of nothing but your own sinfulness. Reproach yourself constantly—this is the best path.


silver

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Επισκόπηση του προφίλ των χρηστών

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 1/4/2011, 01:50

Chapter Eleven

On Love and Forgiveness towards the Brethren.



11. I pray your soul is in good health, for when it is healthy, it has patience in afflictions, it has self-denial with the body and in its thoughts; and it fears neither illnesses nor selfish thoughts. When the soul is healthy, it has love within itself; it does not scandalize others; it endures a brother’s harsh words; it does not expose his faults in public; it always has something good to say about his brother; it gives way in quarrels and escapes having bitter thoughts and distress. When the soul is healthy, it does not get angry, complain, talk back, murmur, disobey; it does not follow its own whims, and it does so many other things indicative of spiritual health. This health is what I seek from you; this is what I advise; for this do I pray.

12. (To a struggling Christian )
First Letter.
Put up with that person who grieves you and creates temptations. Put up with him joyfully. Pray for him every day. Always try to do good to him, to commend him, to speak to him with love, and God will work His miracle and he will reform. Then our Christ will be glorified, and the devil, who sets up all the stumbling-blocks, will be foiled. Force yourself especially to stop criticizing and lying. Your penance is to do one prayer-rope* every day for this person who hates you, so that God may enlighten him to repent, and do ten more metanoias daily for one month. If this person does something against you, overlook it, be patient. Let yourself be wronged, but do not wrong; let yourself be slapped, but do not slap; let yourself be criticized, but do not criticize. When you do all this, then the Son of God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, will dwell in your soul. Fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12 ); overlook the deeds of this person, just as our Christ has overlooked your sins.
Second Letter.
I rejoiced to find out that you are compelling yourself to defeat in this way that person who harasses you so much. Yes, my child, love always conquers. Pursue love, humility, purity. Keep doing a prayer-rope for this person. Christ shall enlighten him. The devil is behind it all. When Christ drives the devil away, your brother will become like a little lamb.

*Prayer-rope (κομποσχοίνι )
Α prayer-rope is a cord with many knots (usually thirty-three or one hundred ) which is used in prayer to help the nous concentrate. At each knot, one prayer (usually the Jesus prayer ) is said.

13. Give preference to your brother in everything. Let deference towards others characterize you. In the name of God, do not quarrel, do not criticize. These are not actions of a monk, but of a worldly person far from God. You are dedicated to God; whatever He wants is what you should do—this is what should govern your conduct towards others. When you see that you are quarreling, etc., you should realize that you are doing the devil’s will and that God is greatly distressed. The angels who see you say with sorrow, “What’s wrong with him that makes him fight? Doesn’t he take into consideration God’s commandment to love?” Whereas, when they see you sacrificing yourself for the love of Christ, they rejoice and glorify God, Who gives His grace so that man may conquer the devil.




14. I entreat you, my child, compel yourself to show brotherly love. A monk without love is spiritually dead. Do not judge anyone; do not say things that are unnecessary, useless, harmful, and unbecoming for monks. Why did you leave the world, my child? Wasn’t it to become holy? Wasn’t it to have genuine godly love? When you complain and judge your seniors, con you possibly be fulfilling the goal for which you have withdrawn from the world? How long will the devil laugh, and when will you start repenting and correcting yourself? Time is passing and the end draws near. We must compel ourselves now; now everything can be rectified—later we will bang our heads against the wall to no avail.

15. It is now the eve of holy Theophany. Oh, what condescension! Naked, He entered the waters of the Jordan! Who did? He Who is the Logos of the beginningless Father, Who said of old, “Let there be…,” and lo, everything came into being in front of Him! Naked, so that He would bestow sonship upon us, who were spiritually bare. When the Jordan saw the Invisible One visible, the Fleshless One incarnate, it was frightened and turned back its flow! St. John the Baptist trembled and said, “How can a servant baptize his Master, how can a lamp illuminate the light?” Which light? That blessed, triple-sun light, “which gives light to every man coming into the world” (Jn. 1:9 ). The beginningless Father bore witness to His co-beginningless Son, while the Comforter descended in the form of a dove and remained on the immaculate head of Jesus, confirming the certainty of the word. Every Christian soul rejoices and leaps for joy before the grandeur of the mystery of Theophany! Oh, what a God and Father we have! Ah, this heart of God which loves man so much has been ignored, forgotten. He cries out through the prophet: “Can a woman forget her child and have no compassion upon the offspring of her womb? Though she may forget her children, I will not forget you” (Is. 49:15 ). “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life!” (Rom. 5:10 ). Oh, how much comfort these words of the Apostle Paul give to a newly repenting soul! A soul that shows compassion and sympathizes with its neighbor in words and deeds has great boldness before God! Once, when St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was feigning foolishness in the middle of Constantinople, the spiritual eyes of a God-fearing woman were opened, and in a vision she saw blessed Andrew shining brighter than the sun. People were striking him, spitting at him, loathing him, while the demons were rejoicing because they would condemn them at their death, since they were beating and tormenting in every way this saint of God! But St. Andrew said to the demons, “No-I have entreated God that this not be counted as a sin for those who strike and torment me”! Then Barbara-that was her name-saw heaven open, and a huge dove descended with a flower in its mouth and sat upon the head of blessed Andrew and said, “Accept this flower, which the Father of lights has sent to you because you are merciful towards those who strike you, just as He is merciful”. Around the dove were countless little birds of every kind, chanting heavenly songs to the delight of his blessed soul which suffered so much for Christ! Shortly thereafter, the vision ended. When the blessed one approached Barbara, by the Holy Spirit he knew of her vision and said to her, “Keep this a secret, Barbara, until I leave this life, until I go to the place of the wondrous tabernacle” (cf. Ps. 41:4 ). A merciful soul resembles God and has great boldness towards Him! May God give us a compassionate, merciful heart, so that when we depart, we may find God’s heart open and full of mercy, compassion, and love! Amen. So be it!

16. Great is our honor—though unworthy—to have been called by God to serve in the work of saving souls as His tools, bearing in mind that if others (apostles, etc. ) had not sacrificed their lives for our sake, we would not be children of God and heirs of heavenly blessings. Therefore, let us do whatever we can; the work will be completed by Him Who has the power to perfect it. Think about how the first Christians struggled during the times of the catacombs; with what self-sacrifice, with what love they sacrificed things dear to them when Christian duty called. And in the end, their sacrifices brought them eternal glory. Oh, we are unworthy, and unfortunately we lose everything because of our lack of faith—and I am the first amongst those of little faith. But we hope that the Lord’s mercy will strengthen us, so that we, too, may humbly bear a small cross for our solace.

17. Blessed is he who endures the harsh words of his brother in silence and circumspection lest there be hatred or criticism or rancor in his heart. He resembles Christ, Whom, when He was casting out demons from people, the Jews criticized by saying, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons” (Mt.9:34 ), and “He has a demon. Why do you listen to him?” (cf. Jn. 10:20 ). Do you see, my child, that they said such things even to Christ? Therefore, do not be upset. If you are patient, if you humble yourself and say, “Indeed, I have many demons—since every passion is a demon—and I am just as my brother says, and even worse”, if you try to love and obey him, the day will come when you will be freed from the passions, and then Christ will reign in your heart and give you the priceless peace of God.

18. Do not ruin salvific love for trifles; do not harbor suspicions against each other and create bad conditions within yourselves that corrupt your souls. Fear the judgment of God; woe to him from whom the offence comes (cf. Mt. 18:7 ). Do not justify yourselves; take the burden of any matter upon yourselves, and then you will experience much benefit in your soul. But if you justify your actions and judge your neighbor and your brother, you will always feel sorrow and distress as a punishment for your transgression. A monk without self-reproach isn’t worth a penny, nor will he ever make any progress. Consider whatever the elder tells you to be the will of God and that the Lord speaks through his mouth. Only when you think like this will you practice obedience the way our Christ wants you to.

19. The Lord will condemn to eternal fire those who create temptations. Sincerely love one another—not falsely and superficially, but with spiritual depth. Our Christ showed us so much love that His holy example should become a holy reason for us also to love one another similarly. If we do not show love through our deeds—not only in words—in vain do we labor in our struggle, for we are beating the air (cf. 1 Cor. 9:26 ) and are straying from the goal of our salvation. Let us not be deceived, thinking that we shall be saved while neglecting the basic virtue of love. If we are not characterized by the unadulterated love of Christ, in vain do we run, in which case all hope of salvation is lost.

20. Regarding your question, my brother in the Lord, if we should correct our fellow human being when he is ungrateful, unfair, etc., or if we should not in order to be rewarded for being patient, I shall answer: if you think that he will benefit through admonitions and advice, we should do so, choosing to benefit our brother rather than ourselves, thus performing the greatest virtue, love. If you think that no benefit will result from your admonitions, choose your own benefit by putting up with his ingratitude and injustice.


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Registration date : 12/01/2010

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 2/4/2011, 04:00

Chapter Twelve

On Trials and Temptations.


God allows temptations so that they might rouse us to remember Him. When we call upon Him, He acts as though He does not hear us so that we multiply our supplications and cry out His holy name, in fear of the various passions. Then, through the pain of the entreaties, our heart is sanctified, and through experience we learn the weakness of our lame nature. And thus we realize in practice that without God’s help we are not able to do anything. This deep experience is acquired with the blood of the heart and remains indelible; it becomes a foundation for the remainder of one’s life. The grace of God leaves and comes again, but experience never leaves, because it has been branded within the heart. And no matter how much Satan praises the heart, it points to what is indelibly written within its depths, that without God it is impossible to do anything. If there were no temptations, pride and other passions would have turned us into other lucifers. But our good Father, God, allows afflictions to come upon us so that we may be guarded by humility, which will lighten the burden of our sins. When we are still in our youth, we must be tempted, for youth is easily derailed. In time the war will cease and the desired peace will come. Just have courage and patience. Do not despair, no matter how much the passions may fight you. God loves one who is fought against and fights back. Be brave, and pray also for me, the indolent, the unclean, the unworthy, the abomination!


2. If a trial benefited the Apostle Paul—as he said: “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan to torment me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7 )—how much more will trials benefit us when we bear them patiently? The Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel, the mouth of Christ, dead to the world, one in whom the whole Holy Trinity dwelt. And even though the trial hindered his apostolic preaching, and even though he entreated God so much to take away the trial, God, looking after the benefit of his soul, did not fulfill his prayer—although he besought Him three times—but he received the answer, “My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 ). My grace, He said to him, is sufficient for your consolation; you will have this trial in order to benefit by acquiring more humility. Therefore, my children, bear with joy whatever trial God sends you, whether it be grief or ferocity of the passions, for God sends them to us for our benefit, in order that patience in all these things may be considered as ascesis which we are otherwise unable to do. So thank God; glorify Him with your mouth and heart, because the consolation of grace will come after the trial when we bear it with patience and thanksgiving. Is there anyone who has entered paradise by a different path, a path without temptations, whom we can imitate? No. all the saints passed through fire and water, through various temptations and afflictions, and they glorified God with their patience and received crowns of eternal glory! Do not lose courage in the struggle; our Christ is invisibly standing by, observing the struggle of each one of us. Therefore, struggle patiently; call out the name of our Jesus, so that it may be implanted within your hearts and so that you may become rich in the grace of God. Struggle to acquire a pure intellect, so that you may feel the grace of the Holy Resurrection.

3. Two kinds of grace are acquired when struggling according to God: one is the comfort of the Holy Spirit, Who fills the soul with joy, peace, delight, etc.; the other is called experience of temptations. This grace of experience is indelibly imprinted upon the soul, that is, it does not leave a person because it is united with the heart which experienced the temptations. Whereas the first, the grace of the Holy Spirit, sometimes comes and sometimes goes. In a time of temptations, the second grace, experience, is more beneficial because it enlightens the soul how to pass through them. Since experience comes from temptations, it knows how to free the soul from danger whenever it comes. So temptations, when we bear them with patience, bestow upon us the wisdom of temptations, and thus we become true philosophers. If we do not humble ourselves, instruction through temptations is not going to cease. Egotism creates temptations, but temptations in turn subdue the ego. Therefore be humble, my child, if you want the demons who oppress you to be humbled. Throw yourself beneath all and say, “I am the worst person in the world and everything is my fault”.



4. Struggle, my children, struggle. No matter how much the enemy fights against you, take courage and we shall overcome him. We have our Christ, the Commander-in-Chief Who said, “I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33 ). We, too, will overcome it; just do not lose hope. God will not overlook the supplication of anyone who has hope and calls upon Him, if he prays humbly. Humble yourselves. Do not think highly of yourselves, and you will attain lofty things. The more gold is tried in the fire, the purer it becomes. And the more a Christian is tried by temptations, the more his soul is purified. The more deeply we plow the earth and the more often we prune and look after the vine, the sweeter and more abundant will the fruit be. The more deeply and frequently afflictions and temptations plow the heart of a Christian, the more pure and fruitful he will become. Therefore, have courage, hope, and patience to receive the crown of glory! Temptations and afflictions will save us, whereas whoever flees from afflictions should not expect joyful things to come.

5.
Do not grieve for what has happened. May His will be done always, and let us say, “May it be blessed”. I pray that you acquire monastic forcefulness. All people suffer. We are blessed, because for the sake of Christ we show patience in temptations. For the monk who endures them patiently, temptations will cause an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (cf. 2 Cor. 4:17 ). We owe thousands of thanks to the sweetest Heavenly Father, Who providentially allows painful events to occur in our lives, so that we will not find ourselves in the other world incapable of showing that we endured something for the sake of His love. Courage, my children; do not fall to your knees on your way uphill. We shall ascend little by little because we are weak. All will pass and be forgotten on the never-ending day of the glorious common resurrection.


6. You wrote me about your temptations, my child, but it is clear that whoever wants to walk the road of God—the road of purification*, sanctification, and dispassion—must first consider the necessary commitment he will shoulder. That is, he must be prepared to encounter temptations regardless of their origin, and to be powerfully forged in the virtue of humility. We are full of egotism, my good child, and since we are ill with this great illness of irrational egotism, naturally it follows that we undergo a painful treatment—that is, temptations—for several years, until we learn humility in practice. The Lord of glory wore humility; it is a God-adorning virtue. However, my good child, it is acquired with the blood of the heart. “May it be blessed”. “Forgive me”. “I do not know”. “Whatever you want”. These are the words of a humble monk—a clear sign of progress. Concerning the matter of the brother who afflicts you, you must be patient. Be tolerant, overlook his faults, be philosophical about it, and reproach yourself for being more ill spiritually in other ways and not having been tested yet, and therefore, it is improper for you to speak.

*Purification (κάθαρσις )
Ιn Patristic Theology, purification refers to three states: (1 ) the rejection of the thoughts from the heart, (2 ) the ascetical effort by which the three powers of the soul are turned towards God, thereby moving in accordance with and above nature, and (3 ) the ascetical method by which man overcomes selfish love and achieves unselfish love.

7. The grief which you wrote about, my child, is clearly from the devil, because one who has confessed his sins must believe that they were entirely forgiven, and all grief must be banished without delay; so he must rejoice that God pitied him and enlightened him to wash his dirty garment by means of a frank confession, and should have good hope for the salvation of his soul. This untimely grief has destroyed many. Therefore, do not grieve at all; “Rejoice, and again I shall say rejoice” (cf. Phil. 4:4 ).

8. Every time a person falls, my child, he must arise, and he will be saved. When someone falls and voluntarily does not get up, this is from the demons. Despair is a demonic weapon which has broken down many; hope, however, has saved many from the filthy pit of mire.


silver

Αριθμός μηνυμάτων : 402
Registration date : 12/01/2010

Επισκόπηση του προφίλ των χρηστών

Επιστροφή στην κορυφή Πήγαινε κάτω

Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 3/4/2011, 00:37

Chapter Twelve

On Trials and Temptations.



9. Satan leads us astray—and me, first of all—because we do not show patience and thus we lose the profit of each temptation. There was a monk who entreated God to deliver him from the passions. So God took the passions away from him and gave him dispassion. Then he went to an experienced abba and said to him: “Geronta, I have found rest from the passions and am at peace” (he was still young ). “Listen, my child”, said the great Elder to him, “go and entreat God to bring the passions back to you, for man profits not in dispassion but in warfare, because dispassion is not labor but rest. In temptations a person is perfected and becomes spiritual, whereas without temptations, he remains unwise, uneducated, and useless”. Therefore be patient, no matter what fights you. In these end times that we are living in, let us not expect anything other than temptations, and they will save us!

10. The darkness which you have, my child, comes both from nature and from the tempter. Both are healed by the arrival of God’s grace. For this reason, entreat God to give you sobriety and the ability to remember good things and forget bad things, when you persist, little by little the grace of God will help you.

11. My blessed child, I pray that the Lord of glory will give you the finest spiritual gift for your soul, so that your heart leaps from the divine joy and peace. As for temptations, they are inevitable, and we must realize that they are not about to subside, so we must always be ready to show patience. In any case, the wages of the one who patiently bears the infirmities of the weak will be great, for he will have suffered much and it is very just that he be rewarded proportionately. I pray that you will become as strong as granite, on which all the billows of temptation will break, and that you will remain unshakeable in faith towards God.


12. Be patient, my child, be patient. It is for us to acquire humility that we are allowed to be tempted. These are medicines which cure our sick souls. Rejoice that God is caring for your wounds. Bless Him that He considers you His child and disciplines you in order to teach you wisdom from His Law. “Blessed is the one whom You will discipline and teach”, and “What son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (cf. Heb. 12:7-8 ). But our temptations testify that we are children of God, and this is cause for much joy and honor. So take courage, my child. “Wait patiently for the Lord and do good” (cf. Ps. 26:14 ).

13. My child, we must understand that we shall pass through this present life with many and various temptations. We shall often water every step of our life with bitter tears and sighs. It is in this way that the all-wise God wanted man to live. But even He Himself did not escape this law, since the whole life of our Christ was a life of afflictions and trials. Who among men can demand to escape fulfilling this common law? No one! Therefore let us be brave, fighting valiantly in each oppressive adversity of this life, until the divine command calls us to abandon the present things and depart to the eternal dwellings.

14. Sometimes a person seeks the will of God or to be delivered from some passion, and God allows some predicament to befall us which will bring the desired result. But at first sight the thing seems arduous, and he thinks that it is a temptation due to his carelessness. Yet when the benefit ensuing from the predicament or the temptation is revealed, it is seen clearly that hidden within it was God’s will or the deliverance from the passion for which he had begged God. Thus we learn that in each temptation we need patience and forbearance in order to ascertain what is hidden within it once it passes. Many times a temptation happens which, at first glance, does not seem to conceal anything salvific within it. Yet afterwards, we see that within it is eternal life!



15. Just as night succeeds day, winter eventually succeeds summer, spring succeeds winter, and so on, similarly one spiritual state succeeds another. Today, for example, I am in a good state in terms of purity of thoughts, and my soul glides like a dolphin in a tranquil sea. Everything is peaceful, and you think that it will continue like this forever. But the road which the wisdom of God has mapped out does not change its course. And behold, in a corner of the sky little clouds, simple unhealthy ideas, arise in the horizon and gather in the sky, in the mind. Soon afterwards, the wind begins; thunder follows; the sea becomes rough, and before long a tempest of thoughts is formed. Thus a state of bitter thoughts, etc., succeeds the purity, and various disturbances follow the calm. If those who fear God lacked the various trials and temptations, some of us would have ended up in satanic pride; others in debauchery worse than Sodom; others in the darkness of unbelief and impiety, and so forth. So then, it is to afflictions that we owe this little piety of ours, as well as our hope of salvation. One who is physically ill abhors the bitter medicines and painful operations. However, he endures patiently, knowing that the physician effects his health through these things. And when he gets well, he renders many thanks to the physician for the good which he did, and no longer remembers the pain because it has passed. We should also understand spiritual matters in the same way. All the various afflictions make the one afflicted abhor them, but they result in the cure of the soul’s spiritual members. And if those afflictions had not been sent by God, the great Physician, that sickly member of the soul would have constantly grown worse, and then the soul would have been poisoned and suffered spiritual death, which is separation from God. Therefore, we ought to thank God in every situation so that we do not fall away from piety. The Apostle James teaches us beautifully concerning this matter: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jas. 1:2-3 ). Temptations attest to the inner state of each person. When many kinds of storms appear, it is then that the nautical experience of the captain shows. And godly afflictions reveal who the Christian is. “Take away temptations and no one would be saved”. This does not mean, however, that we should lead ourselves into temptation on purpose, but as we struggle according to God and look out for ourselves, we shall encounter temptations coming from His fatherly endearment, from the demons’ envy, from our carelessness and inexperience, from the cunning of men, etc. But the goal is one: to struggle with patience and perseverance, reflecting that nothing happens without the will of God. Therefore, we need patience and gratitude.



silver

Αριθμός μηνυμάτων : 402
Registration date : 12/01/2010

Επισκόπηση του προφίλ των χρηστών

Επιστροφή στην κορυφή Πήγαινε κάτω

Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 4/4/2011, 00:43

Chapter Thirteen.

On Faith, Hope, and Patience.


Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid (Jn. 14:27 ). My children, trust that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength; along with the temptation will come the help of God. Our Christ tells us that if they hated Me they will also hate you (cf. Jn. 15:18 ); if they persecuted and blasphemed and cursed Me, they will also persecute and blaspheme and curse you. And they will do these things to you because they do not know God and “they know not what they do (Lk. 23:43 ). We, my children, know God, and because we love Him and are His, the world hates us, since it does not agree with Him. Therefore have courage, my children; we are followers of the One Who was crucified by them; so we too will be crucified by trials and temptations. Just as He was resurrected, we too will be resurrected and glorified together with Him unto the ages of ages. The devil has raised a storm, but it will die down because God is all-powerful, and nothing can happen without His divine will. God is with us. Christ reigns within us, within as many of us as were baptized into Christ, and we are not afraid. Perhaps we shall enter into temptations, but our Deliverer is near, for He said, “I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33 ). Therefore, we will also be victorious, even if the sea surges threateningly for the moment. Do not be afraid of anyone; fear only God Who is able to cast us into the fire of hell, if we are not careful. So, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:10 ). Do not forget what the Christians of the past suffered in order to keep their faith in our Christ: they hid within the catacombs; they were persecuted and afflicted. We also are blessed, who are persecuted because of our desire to worship God and to guard our chastity. We shall go through much. But in the end, the Crucified Jesus will be victorious; for the Cross is our glorious banner. So do not fear; God is with us.


2. Trust in God, Who has created them and keeps them under His care. For if a leaf does not fall from a tree without His divine will, how much more shall the affairs of a man, His son by grace, a Christian, be under His care? But the devil, who knows your weakness, troubles you with it in order to harass you. When we have laid our foundation on trust in God, the foundation is on the rock, and even if the winds blow and thunderstorms come, they will not overcome us. But when we have laid our foundation on trust in our own efforts, the foundation is on the sand and we shall easily fall. Do not grieve; everything will pass. This is how the path of those who are being saved is marked out: in torments and afflictions.

3. Why are you gloomy and devoured by grief? The spirit of grief requires self-consolation for you to overcome the thoughts of despair from the evil one. When you listen to any suggestion of the evil spirit of grief, you will never be able to see the joy of hope. Everything written in the divine Scriptures was written for our admonition, so that with them we may fight back against the one who deceive us, the pernicious dragon. When the greatly compassionate father saw the prodigal son coming, he hastened to embrace him, kissed him tenderly, and abhorred neither his filthiness nor his whole inward and outward wretched condition. Who can describe his paternal feelings when he embraced his beloved child, whom he had considered dead and lost but then saw alive and returning in repentance? His actions showed his feelings: immediately he raised him to his original position as son and heir. To whom did the revered mouth of the Lord say these things? Was it not to us for our consolation, so that when the tempest of despair tosses us about, we may tie our boat to the saving anchor of hope in the love and compassion of our Heavenly Father? The Lord founded His Church on earth as His Bride, to intercede for His children. He left us the great mystery of the divine Eucharist so that we may be purified, sanctified, and united with God. If the blood of bulls and goats purified sinners in the Old Testament, how much more will the blood of Christ purify us from all sin! “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies them for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works? (Heb. 9:13-14 ). The devil, who out of hatred and envy does not like to see a person spiritually happy, stirs up everything in order to cause bitterness and poison. This is his joy and gain. But as for us, let us keep striving to produce self-consolation through spiritual means, opposing his various machinations. Who has ever hoped in God and was put to shame? And who has despaired and was ever saved? The devil fears a person who hopes, because he knows from experience what a greatly compassionate God we have. If the child who hopes in his own father will never go wrong, how much more will he who hopes in the Father of fathers, Whose love cannot be compared with any other love and is as far from any other love as the heaven is from the abyss! If someone sins fatally ten thousand times but exerts himself in repentance with all his strength, as long as he hopes, he will never be put to shame. For whom did our Christ suffer? Was it not for our souls that are wounded by the dragon? “And whoever looked upon the bronze serpent was saved” (Num. 21:9 ). You too, humble soul, should hope in the sweetest compassion of our Heavenly Father, Who never loathed or rejected anyone. He receives everyone; the boundless space of His compassion is never filled. He has mercy on the first and likewise does not exclude the last, but receives all equally out of His great goodness. The more sinful the penitent, the greater the honor given to the compassion of God. “Glory to Thy compassion, glory to Thy dispensation, O only Lover of mankind”.

4. Why do you worry and grieve more than necessary for the various incidents? We are not outside of Divine Providence, so as to be directed by mere chance. Therefore, whatever happens to us happens with God’s knowledge, and so nothing will happen to us beyond our strength! Let those who do not believe in Divine Providence drown in worry; they are certainly justified. But we, who believe that God is present everywhere and that there is no creature outside His providence, are not justified when we worry more than necessary, for through this action we show a lack of faith and illumination. “Blessed is the man who hopes in God, for as a lion he will trust in Him” (cf. Prov. 28:1 ). If God is the One Who permits it, Thy will be done, Lord. “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? (Rom. 11:34 ). Who is able to search out the will of the Lord! “If you do not become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3 ), that is, through faith and innocence.


5. A dreadful storm was raised on the sea of Tiberias. A threatening wind was trying to sink the tiny little boat of Jesus and His disciples. The disciples were terrified. No one was resting, except the Lord of life and death. “Arise, Master”, they cried out in despair, “we are perishing!” (cf. Mt. 8:25 ). Then He Who holds all in His hand arose and rebuked the sea and the wind, and there was a great calm. Let us also believe in the power of our Jesus, and the tempter will surrender his weapons and there will be a great calm. For whose love do you bear afflictions? For whose sake did you jeopardize your very lives for the sisters? Out of love, whose command are you carrying out? You will answer, “For the love of our Christ, in Whom we hope that all things, through His power, will have a good ending”. Good, very good—for He is the One Who numbers all the hairs of our head. How could we think that anything will happen without His willing it? And if we are protected by Divine Providence, what are we to fear? Should we not rather fear Him Who is able to put us into the fire of hell on account of our sins? Instead of having courage and pride in our Christ unto His glory, Who counted you worthy to struggle in this way, you, on the contrary, are filled with grief and thoughts and murmuring. I repeat: you ought to be proud that God deemed you, the base and unworthy, worthy to become instruments of His Divine Providence for the salvation of select souls, for whom our Christ died. Do not grieve, for God’s sake! Do not seek to lose your reward, which will be great in Heaven. Preaching the divine word is the smallest virtue, but sacrificing ourselves for Him is PERFECT LOVE; that is, to lay down our lives out of love for our neighbor. Certainly this virtue is laborious and dangerous, but are any high offices attained without labor and toil? Let us not forget the meaning of the divine Crucifixion, that we also ought to become small saviors, when the time calls for it, by the divine will. Let us see God as our Father; let us rest in the warmth of His secure embrace, for He knows how to arrange everything for our benefit. As humans we—and first of all, I –lose courage in the beginning, so that our human weakness shows; but then the good Cyrenian, divine grace, comes and bears our cross and thus we ascend Golgotha more easily. Wasn’t our Christ afraid in Gethsemane? What were the great drops of holy sweat for? These and other things characterized the human weakness; but afterwards, as God, quiet and meek as an innocent lamb, He sacrificed His life for the sake of ungrateful man.

6. Let us bear everything patiently, that we may gain the God of all. When we patiently bear sufferings, immediately the future blessings are confirmed. When we are deprived of the joy of this world, then without a doubt, we store up the joy of God in our immortal soul. It is impossible not to enjoy with an everlasting recompense the good which we are deprived of here! Let us give a little here on earth so as to receive it with interest from the impregnable treasury of the gifts of God. Let us sow the seeds of virtue so that we may crown our heads with most fragrant flowers in a crown of eternal glory.




7. We should not find it strange if the passions and sicknesses war against us, but rather we should entreat God to give us patience, that great balm for the wounds of the soul as well as of the body. Patience is the one and only diamond which beautifies the Christians and makes straight the rough road of our salvation. Patience is the fortitude of the soul, the support, the deep root that holds the tree when the winds beat against it and the streams strike it. When you fall, rise, and when you sin, repent. Just never let the poison of despair penetrate into your heart, seeing the great sea of God’s compassion. No matter how many sins one commits, they go away and vanish in the sea of God’s goodness.



8. Wholeheartedly thank God, Who loves you—as I can see—very much. For if He did not love you, you would not be as you are. You think that you are lost, etc., but I see that spiritually you are very well off. Just do not despair; do not lose hope. He who has hope will by no means be put to shame. Even if someone is covered by an abyss of sins, if he repents and does not lose hope, the devil fears him, because the paternal heart of the Heavenly Father yields when His prodigal son says, “I have sinned”. He runs first, embraces him, kisses him, and kills the fatted calf in celebration, for His son was dead and is alive again (cf. Lk. 15:19-24 ). The despair of the sinner is completely unjustified. Is a handful of sand ever able to cover the ocean?

9. Blessed is a man who has a living hope in God; he shows faith, trust, glory, and honor to Him. God is then obliged to keep him in His providence, and the saying of the holy Gospel applies: “As you have believed, so let it be done for you” (Mt. 8:13 ). But unfortunately, temptations come to us, creating great spiritual confusion, and the bright sun of sweet hope is covered by deep darkness. Then we lose our orientation and end up thinking and doing something unbecoming to our calling as Christians. But the goodness of God, Who knows that the mind of man is inclined to evil from his youth (cf. Gen. 8:21 ), and that men are not able to remain in the height of Christian perfection, gave us glorious and endless repentance.



10. Have patience, my children; do not lose your courage in the struggle, and do not let your knees weaken under the pressure of temptations, for our good God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. Why do you give room to Satan to war against you with greater intensity? Have faith in God, and whatever He permits will be to our advantage. Do we perhaps know better than He? Cast your care upon the Lord, and He will take care of you. Do not put forth your will, for faith is the offspring of grace and divine visitation. Has not each one of us experienced personally miracles of God’s divine providence? Didn’t divine grace visit N.? If you had not sacrificed yourselves, would N. be in the army of Christ now? Didn’t Christ sacrifice Himself for us? Certainly! And had He not given Himself to death on the Cross, we would not be what we are by divine grace. This shows that things that are very good, those that are on a higher spiritual level, are bought with blood. But their reward is so great that it cannot be measured, and their glory is equal to the angels’! I feel for you, and this is why I also suffer. In times of temptation, man forgets everything and is brought to a state that he did not want in times of peace.





11. In general, your thoughts are human. Start trusting in the almighty God, and the four winds will take everything away: “Not a hair of our head will perish” (Lk. 21:18 ). “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8 ). Bear in mind the temptations of the saints and be calm. Do not grieve, for the demon of the passion fabricates misleading and provocative images in order to induce a bad and dangerous predisposition. Whereas by reflecting on the uncertainty of the time of our death, we become peaceful. Pray, my children, and do not fear. The Theotokos, our champion, will again give us the victory. Reflect on the precious soul of your sister and its incalculable worth—for Christ died also for her.

12. Be patient in everything; remember that Christ was reviled, slapped, whipped, and finally crucified on the Cross. Since He endured these things for us, we too must endure similar things for His love, but also for the salvation of us who have so many sins. Regard every evil word they say to you as a golden crown. When one is reviled or spoken to harshly, he feels pain, but this pain becomes a healing balm for his passions, for the wounds of his soul. No virtue purifies the passions of pride and unchastity as much as bearing insults and contempt with patience and silence.

silver

Αριθμός μηνυμάτων : 402
Registration date : 12/01/2010

Επισκόπηση του προφίλ των χρηστών

Επιστροφή στην κορυφή Πήγαινε κάτω

Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 4/4/2011, 21:40

Chapter Thirteen.

On Faith, Hope, and Patience.


13. I receive your sorrowful letter and read it attentively. My soul was filled with pain for you, and I wept and prayed in tears and mourning after reading your letter. Nevertheless, be patient, my child, because God made you like that because He loves you very much. Maybe if you were well, you would not have been attentive to yourself. Whereas now, in your sickness, God gives you so much humility and self-reproach and patience, and He is very please. You should always thank Him, for as our Father—which God is—He knows what is advantageous for each soul, and accordingly, as He knows best, gives us various means of salvation, regardless of whether or not we understand it due to our narrow-mindedness and human imperfection. Endure patiently, my child, and God, Who gave you this sickness, knows that hidden within it is much benefit. Every evil has a tinge of good; therefore, endure patiently and it will be counted to you as a martyrdom. Reflect that all who have entered paradise, the Kingdom of God, passed their lives like martyrs: some in sickness, others in labor, others in pain and persecution. Each one of us bears a cross in accordance with his strength, in order that we all may resemble Christ, Who in His life on earth also bore the Cross for our sake. So if we suffer together with our Christ, only then will we also be glorified together with Him.


14. Never lose hope of salvation. Constantly cry out to God and weep. God never overlooks a soul that wants to be saved and repents, no matter how much it may be wounded in the fight. God knows how weak our nature is. Where will the clay find the strength to support the pressure of the water, if God does not bake it with the grace of the Holy Spirit? He knows, as the all-seeing eye, that as soon as He leaves us, we fall down and are lost. For this reason, He does not allow us to be tempted as much as the devil wants. Were he to leave us, the devil would cast us all together into hell. But the good God prevents him and allows him to tempt us only as much as each soul is able to bear. No matter how much we are wounded in the fight, let us not lose courage, but let us take care of our wounds and continue the fight. When God sees our labor and our small desire for salvation, He will give us the victory. It is great evil for a combatant to lose courage in the fight, for immediately the adversary pounces ferociously to vanquish him. Therefore, my child, encourage your soul and be hopeful. Say to yourself: “I would rather die in the battle for the glory of God than grieve my God by abandoning my fight against the devil”.



15. My child, if only we would have patience and not get tired of seeking divine mercy until our last breath! Why was the Canaanite woman called blessed? She was called blessed for the faith and perseverance which she showed while crying out behind Jesus, “Have mercy on me, son of David! My daughter is severely possessed by a demon” (Mt. 15:22 ). Jesus dismissed her, overlooked her. She, however, showed no sign of keeping quiet, but kept crying out until our Christ grew weary of her—or rather until He had tested her—and granted her request. “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (Mt. 15:28 ).

16.
Endure all things, my child, as a slave sold for the sake of Christ. People scold, berate, scorn, and do many other things to a slave, yet he endures everything as a man without freedom. You too, my child, should think of yourself like this so that you can endure everything for the sake of glorious slavery to Jesus, and so that our Christ may give you eternal freedom in the heavenly Jerusalem.


17. My child, support the brothers. I know their weight; it does not escape my notice what you bear. But for whom do you endure these things? For Christ and Him alone. So is He not worthy of this? Oh, what good work, what virtue is able to measure up to the love of God and the forbearance which He shows to us? But is it we who are patient, or is it really Christ Who strengthens us invisibly? It is Christ Who helps us; otherwise, who would be able to support such a weight of souls, when we are not even able to support ourselves? The only thing which we must do is to pray that God will give us patience, and we shall try, as is our duty, to bear the weaknesses of those for whom we have assumed responsibility. Each of us has a burden in proportion to his power; but God perceive our weaknesses and helps us. Do not murmur; do not fall to your knees, my child. It is time to run the race; run in order to take hold of the prize of the heavenly calling. Do not lose courage; Christ is invisibly present. It is for His love that you undertook the struggle.


18. I pray for you that the Lord will give you patience, enlightenment, discernment, and health, so that you are able to navigate the ship of the synodia with wisdom and meekness. Scandals will never cease, inasmuch as the devil exists, who continually attacks us with his evil. Bear without murmuring the weaknesses of your brethren and humble your inner self. But as regards governing the synodia, you must keep your position as Elder. Have patience, my child. The harvest is in accordance to the labor. Let us labor for God. We should not worry and despair while awaiting our recompense from God.

19. We must do all things with faith and hope, for “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23 ). No matter how rough the sea of passions becomes, and even if the waves have the power to sink us, we must place our hope in the Lord. Then the waves will break like soap bubbles on the rock of our hope and love towards Jesus. Do not lose your spiritual courage when temptations surround you, but rouge your zeal with good thoughts, that is, with various sayings of the Lord which give us the enlightenment to deal with every temptation. Let us continuously compel ourselves in order to put oil in the lamps of our souls, so that when the Lord comes, He may find us vigilant, filled with the oil of good works. And then, we shall enter into the divine bridal chamber of eternal joy and delight. The struggle is not small; it does not last for only one day, but until our last breath. Therefore, let us arm ourselves with the sweetest name of our Jesus, so that the devil finds no room in our heart. But to acquire the memory of our Jesus, much diligence, forcefulness, faith, hope, perseverance, patience, and time are needed.


20. Place your hope in our Christ and do not fear the threats of the demons, but establish yourself beside Him and say, “By my God shall I leap over a wall” (Ps. 18:29 ); that is, I shall pass over the barriers of demonic temptations with the power of my God. Try to make a good start, for then you will have an excellent end. How you begin is how you will continue to walk. Do not disregard your small imperfections and say, “This is nothing”. No. Small things will become large and will give birth to other evils as well. He who does not pay attention to small vices will fall into great ones.

21. Do not grieve for anything other than your lack of patience in some matter. This is because when you are impatient, you lose eternal rewards and a great deal of boldness in prayer! Pray that the Lord adds to you a wealth of patience and forbearance, and through these riches you will also make others rich. Do not lose your spiritual courage, I entreat you, but draw this up from mighty faith in God, Who does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength.

22. My child, be patient with your children. What can we do? Of course they are rambunctious, but they cannot be otherwise. In any case, we must be patient. Do not let things pile up in your soul; do not demand details. For by constantly worrying, you will harm your health, and that will be worse. Just overlook their shortcomings and increase your prayer, for prayer works miracles. And then miraculously, without exertion, they will become calm and quiet children. Many children were very rambunctious when they were small; afterwards, however, they became wonderful in everything. The rambunctious children are usually smart, too, and someday they may achieve much. My child, do not lose your courage, and as long as I live in this vain world, with God’s help, I hope to help you in all of your difficulties. I realize that I am continually burdened with responsibilities, and consequently my free time is reduced. Nevertheless, I shall try to help you with whatever strength I have left over.


23. The road that leads man to the life of dispassion has been strewn with thorns and thistles, and those who desire to walk along it will often bleed and feel pain; many times they will even despair. But they strengthen their hearts in patience till the end, because their hope is in Him Who says to them, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6 ). Likewise, they bear in mind the words of the Apostle Paul: “What tribulation is able to separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35 ). When someone wants to cross a sea and reach the opposite shore where deliverance awaits him, he ponders it carefully, weighs his strength, and when he is certain that he is capable, he throws himself into the sea and swims. As he progresses, he begins to tire; the waves seem rougher than they did in the beginning; timidity begins to enter his heart. This timidity weakens the powers of his body and soul even more. If he shakes off the timidity and takes courage by pondering that there is but one solution: to strain every nerve of his to get across—for timidity will result in his drowning—by acting courageously, he will cross to the other shore and be saved. Furthermore, if there are two swimmers and one of them loses courage and starts sinking, the other one encourages him, boosts his low morale, points out to him the danger that cowardice leads to, helps him also with his hands, and in this way he is saved. “A brother helped by a brother is like a fortified city” (Prov. 13:19 ).


24. It is unbecoming for a monk to despair, as it is also for a soldier. For where will he find the strength to lift his rifle, make laborious night marches and attacks, and obtain victories! Likewise a monk, the spiritual soldier of Christ who fights against his spiritual enemy, will be able to accomplish his spiritual purpose only by having an invigorating hope and by sacrificing himself.

25. Do not worry at all; everything will pass and the storm will die down. Do not despair; have hope in God and in our Panagia. God will never ever abandon pained souls seeking salvation. The devil has become rabid because his plans were ruined—and what big plans! Glory to Thee, O God, for everything. Carry the cross, my children, and crucify yourselves with our Christ, and soon the bright Resurrection will come. The more afflicted you are now, the more you will feel the joy of freedom. This is how the life of the Christian is mapped out: in afflictions and troubles. All who desire to live according to God will suffer. Take courage and do not fear; have firm faith in our Christ. He is omnipotent. No matter how wild Satan becomes, before our Christ, before His power, all his machinations are destroyed. Just say the prayer and be at peace. Trust in Divine Providence. All your afflictions will turn out to be for your own good. During great trials, my Elder experienced theoria!


silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 6/4/2011, 01:04

Chapter Fourteen.

On Thoughts, Fantasies, and Distraction.


Fasting is not just abstention from food, but primarily strict abstinence of the senses. When the senses are fed by external things, they transmit a corresponding amount of poison to the nous and the heart, which kills the poor soul’s life in God. Our Watchful Fathers have so much to tell us about the holy fasting of the senses. Their entire teaching is mainly directed at the purification of the nous from sinful fantasies and thoughts, and the purification of the heart from feelings that defile it. Furthermore, they teach that we must eradicate every evil in its beginning to keep the soul clean. As soon as any evil thought whatsoever approaches even slightly, it is absolutely necessary that we drive it away and say the Jesus prayer right away. And when in this manner we confront the thoughts coming from the senses and the devil, very soon we will feel the joy and the profit derived from the fasting of the senses. If Eve had restrained her sense of vision, she would not have poisoned the offspring of her womb, that is, all the people who were born from her. In short, abstinence with the senses saves man from hell.

2. I pray, my child, that you resist egotistic and proud thoughts, for from them and from similar passions all the other evil passions originate, and by them a poor soul is pushed over the cliff of destruction. Pay no attention to passionate thoughts; disregard them completely, since the ugliness of evil is written all over their face. Disregarding the thoughts suggested by the devil brings salvation. Humility is the best stratagem, for not engaging in a battle of rebuttal* with them and fleeing for refuge in Christ through prayer is humility. Passionate thoughts may also be expelled by means of rebuttal, but the fight is difficult and the soldier of Christ must be very experienced to get by without damage, because Satan is also an expert in the Scriptures and he cites arguments to trip up the soldier. Therefore, whatever he suggests to you through your thoughts—whether it is pride, vainglory, criticism, etc.—let it go in one ear and out the other. Since they are passionate thoughts, it is unnecessary to hold a conversation with them. Lock them out! Tell them, “I do not tolerate associating and speaking with heretical thoughts”, and remain firm in your prayer.

*Rebuttal (αντιλογία )
Rebuttal is the repulsing of a demonic thought at the moment of assault. See also consent.


3. Pay no attention to whatever the enemy says to you. As soon as he is about to whisper something in your ear, immediately say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”, or “Save me”, rapidly and without stopping, and soon you will see that the thought—or rather the pressure to accept the thought—has weakened, and you will not remember what exactly he was trying to say. This method is simpler and more effective than rebuttal—that is, to contradict the thoughts suggested—because after the demon has left and finished everything he had to say, there is nothing left behind as a remnant or shadow. Whereas with rebuttal, when he is defeated and departs, he leaves behind remnants and shadows of whatever he suggested to the soul, that is, faint memories of what one fought against. The first method—i.e., to take refuge immediately in the prayer—is relaxing, and the soul is quickly calmed. On the other hand, the second method—rebuttal—is laborious, and if the soul does not succeed with rebuttal, one is likely to be wounded in proportion to the demon’s skill of persuasion.

4. Flee from sinful thoughts; cut off fantasies, the idol of provocativeness, because Satan—that “know-it-all”—wants to separate you from God your Creator. For when he makes a person guilty by means of sinful consent, the grace of the Holy Spirit leaves, just as a bee flies away from smoke, and then the soul is left without grace and joy, and full of despondency and sorrow. But when we oppose evil fantasies as soon as they first appear in the mind by destroying or repulsing them and immediately seize the sword of the spirit—the holy little prayer of our Jesus—with eagerness and zeal at once we shall see the knavish evil thought abandoning its post and conceding the victory to the governing mind, which the grace and mercy of God strengthened. The cunning devil cannot tolerate seeing the holy guardian angel of our soul stand near us. This abysmal dragon strives to distance him in order to catch us bereft of a bodyguard and swoop down on us like a fearful tempest and devour us. And since he knows that only unchaste thoughts distance this angel, we see him rouse a multitude of filthy thoughts and fantasies of vain idols in order to defile the mind, heart, and body. But when the soldier of God realizes his malice, he seizes the weapon of Christ immediately and disperses his machinations.

5. My child, be careful with your imagination. All sins originate from the imagination; it is the root of sin. So be careful. As soon as a fantasy of a person or deed comes, of something you saw or heard, immediately drive it away from your mind with anger and the prayer. Say it rapidly and intensely, and at once entreat our Panagia mentally with pain to help you, and I trust in God that you will obtain the victory. You were proud, and this is why the devil started fighting you. Humble yourself now; abase yourself; insult yourself mentally, and God, seeing your humility, will help you. Just as you avoid fire so that you do not get burned, and a snake so that you do not get bitten, likewise—and even more so—you should avoid the devil’s fantasies! Be careful, I repeat, with filthy fantasies; because this is how great spiritual men have fallen and perished.

6. Be careful that your mind does not wander here and there, but affix it tightly to the name of Christ. Entreat Him as if He were in front of you by invoking His name with pain of soul, and then you will see how much benefit you will derive. Drive evil thoughts away quickly—kick them out! Shout, “Get out of here, you tramps, out of the temple of God, out of my soul!” Do not leave them inside yourself, because you run the risk of being wounded, and then you will weep and sigh. Be patient, my child. Flee from thoughts as from a fire, for they ravage, chill, and deaden the soul! But if we drive them away with anger, with vigilance, and the prayer, they give rise to great benefit. So struggle; do not be afraid. Call upon our ready Physician. Not many entreaties are needed; He does not ask for money; He is not disgusted by wounds; He accepts tears like a good Samaritan; He nurses and attends to a person wounded by the noetic thieves. Therefore, let us hasten to Him.

7. As for obscene thoughts, they spring from the imaginative part of the soul. That is, within the mind appear people, things, and deeds that the five senses of the body have gathered and transported into the storehouse of the imagination. And in time, the devil will present to the imagination people or things or songs, etc., that the senses have stored up, and in order to create thoughts he incites the passion so that he may sack the city of God—the heart, that is—and defile it. Therefore, the whole trick is to drive away fantasies, people, and so on, as soon as they are depicted in our mind. And if we accomplish this, by the grace of God, the evil temptation is eradicated in its beginning and we win with little effort. But if the thoughts persist, we should resist by invoking the name of Christ and confronting those thoughts with anger. Furthermore, when we see people who scandalize us, we should try not to let the image of them be deposited within us, but we should drive them away at once, lest these images are taken into the imaginative part of our soul, and thus enable the devil to fight us by showing them to us again later.


8. Regarding your blasphemous thoughts, my child, which the devil is putting in your mind, do not fear. It is due to the jealousy of the evil sower. The devil tries to choke the Christian’s soul with the idea that he himself is blaspheming, and in this way to poison his heart! Such thoughts should go in one ear and out the other. That is how much you should disregard them, because these thoughts are not yours. I am telling you, my child, do not fear. I shall take the responsibility for them. When these thoughts come, say to Satan: “Bring whatever you want. From now on I couldn’t care less for anything you say, since all these things are contrivances of your malice!” Even though blasphemous thoughts are clearly from the devil, nevertheless we are also partly responsible for them. How? We are responsible because of the hidden pride of our mind that thinks that we are important: this is revealed by the blasphemous thoughts. They can also originate from our anger, wrath, hatred, etc. Therefore, along with disregarding them, we should take care to reproach ourselves inwardly and fight off every proud thought. Furthermore, we should be at peace with everyone, even if someone harms us.


9. Do not talk a lot. Stay away from back talk, quarreling, loquacity, and everything that issues from a careless tongue. Drive away evil thoughts and filthy fantasies from your mind as soon as they appear. For when they linger inside the mind and heart, they create a grave condition. Whereas when we are careful at the first appearance of the filthy fantasy and the filthy thought that follows, we remain in peace and enjoy the moral gratification of purity. Therefore, my children, let us pay attention to ourselves every time various bad thoughts enter, because the same approach applies for every bad thought. Whatever kind it may be, when it finds the nous careless, it enters and creates—corresponding to the passion—the aforementioned unhealthy condition. Therefore, since a monk is fought primarily by thoughts, the thing that saves him is watchfulness! Watchfulness (nepsis ) is derived from the verb “nefo”, that is, to be careful, vigilant, alert, and on the guard. When we are careful, vigilant, alert, and on our guard, the house of our soul will be well-kept and we shall save our souls for which we struggle our whole life.

10. When a person is young, it is impossible not to be fought by filthy thoughts and fantasies. One must drive them away immediately and say the Jesus prayer, and they will leave. But once again they will return; once more he needs to drive them away through the prayer and watchfulness, that is, through the attention and vigilance of the nous. One must be careful not to let the temptation from an image, because first a fantasy comes, then a thought, and then a filthy pleasure. So when through watchfulness we do not allow an evil fantasy to form and at the same time we say the prayer, we are delivered from the disturbance. In addition, we are crowned by God for our good intention and desire to please Him.

silver

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Registration date : 12/01/2010

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Επιστροφή στην κορυφή Πήγαινε κάτω

Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 7/4/2011, 02:35

Chapter Fourteen.

On Thoughts, Fantasies, and Distraction.


11. You should always keep in mind, my child, that whatever your thoughts tell you is from the devil with the aim of making you despair, while he sits back and chortles. Therefore, you should also scoff at him and pay no attention to his silly words. You will never suffer harm when you disregard him. Take care to pay no attention to whatever he says, and you are saved. You will suffer no harm whatsoever if you adhere to this advice. Anyone who has believed his thoughts has suffered harm. This is why disregarding them and saying the prayer does wonders. Do not sorrow, my child, do not despair, do not lose your courage. No matter what the devil whispers in your mind, it is a lie, deceit. Do not believe him at all! He rejoices when he sees people believing him and becoming embittered. On the other hand, he is tremendously grieved when they do not believe him and remain in peace! As for me, when my Elder told me that these thoughts need to be disregarded, I believe him completely right away and immediately put his advice into practice—which is how I was cured. For the cure to be complete, you must disregard these thoughts. Believe me, this is the best medicine. See to it that you do not neglect it. All your effort should be how not to think of those thoughts that the devil puts in your mind. Pay no attention to them, and do not grieve at all. Show no mercy towards filthy fantasies; strike at them with anger, with divine fear, with the double-edged sword of the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. Shout it intensely, cry out; Jesus is invisibly present to help. “The Lord is near to all that call upon Him” (Ps. 144:18 ).

12. Youth does not forget its natural laws. For this reason it hurls rough waves of filthy thoughts against the citadels of the temple of God to render them dirty dens of bestial thoughts. Flee from filthy fantasies. Destroy them and kill the Babylonian thoughts (cf. Ps. 136:11-12 ) with the sword of the spirit, the prayer, in order to be blessed on the day when the secret deeds of men will be revealed.

13. Do not be dismayed, my child, by the thoughts of fornication; just learn how to drive them away. If you learn this you will reduce them by half, and your head will be crowned with victories. As soon as the person who causes filthy thoughts appears in your imagination, immediately, without the slightest delay, drive the image away—just as you shut your eyes when you do not want to see something—get angry with the devil, and say the prayer rapidly with pain and tears, and you will see immediately that the evil thought withdraws. But if the fantasy intensifies, cut the person depicted to pieces and make him ugly so that the repugnance will drive away the pleasure created. Be very careful not to grow bold and not to pay attention to the evil thought, because this small carelessness will give rise to an enormous battle. Be careful lest the sweetness of the filthy fantasy allures you, and your soul converses with the person imagined, because afterwards, you will extricate yourself only with difficulty, and after this experience, you will see how necessary it is to have vigilance with thoughts.

14. When we struggle against demonic thoughts, the struggle will be considered as a martyrdom. This is because one suffers a great deal when evil thoughts attack, and God, seeing the toil and pain of the soul, considers it to be a martyrdom. Thoughts of unbelief are caused by pride and egotism. Therefore, my child, drive away egotistical thoughts and think very humbly about yourself. Do not criticize others; look at only your own faults. Be careful with your words and do not embitter anyone. Disregard thoughts of unbelief totally since they are demonic and plan to rob you of your fighting spirit. If you don’t, they will hand you over to the carnal demon and thereafter to spiritual death. As soon as you begin the struggle, thoughts of pride will come to you—that you are a fighter, and so on—and the thoughts of unbelief will fall aside. Thus you will see how the demons deceive us. Pay no attention at all to thoughts; disregard them completely. Take hold of the prayer and the remembrance of death, and you will see how the devil changes his guise.

15. We should constantly occupy our mind with beneficial spiritual thoughts, so that the cunning devil will not find the opportunity to bring us a thousand and one filthy and sinful thoughts that defile our soul and render us guilty and unclean before God. So let us attend, my child, to every thought of ours as well as our every word and deed so that we will not grieve our sweetest Jesus Who suffered a cruel and painful death for us, the guilty ones. My child, attend to your thoughts. Have a fighting spirit and always be ready to confront thoughts. Do not yield, for we pay dearly and gravely for every concession.

16. I received your letter, in which you write about blasphemous thoughts in general. Thoughts of this kind originate from pride. You are deluded in saying that the temptations have ostracized pride from your soul. A tree is known by its fruit, and a cause by its effect. An elder has written that the amount of pride dwelling within us corresponds to the number of temptations we shall have. If we had true humble-mindedness, the peace of God would gloriously ripple in the seat of our heart, and everything would be quiet and peaceful. But since the peace of the city is being disturbed, it seems that there are revolts and espionage, and this is why there is trouble amongst the citizens, the thoughts. The remedy is: not reading heretical books; total disregard of blasphemous thoughts; regarding them as foreign and alien, as barking dogs, as products of the devil; humble prayer; reconciliation, if perchance as a human you are upset with someone; vigilance, if negligence has set in. These are the remedies that cure this illness—but it is cured above all by completely despising blasphemous thoughts as “hogwash” of the devil. When Abba Pambo was being fought by a spirit of blasphemy, he prayed saying: “Lord, how shall I be saved from these thoughts?” And an angel answered him: “Pambo, Pambo, stop worrying about foreign things—that is, blasphemous thoughts—and attend to your sins”. As far as the truth of Orthodoxy is concerned, there is no room for the slightest doubt. The Holy Spirit presided over the Ecumenical Councils. Whatever the saints of God said, they said with the Spirit of God, and as proof of this, we have the sanctity of their holy relics.

17. Do not be discouraged at all, my child. Every passion that springs up and disconcerts us is a salutary medicine. Drive away the image of every person or matter that disturbs you and leads you into temptation. Get rid of any person’s image in your imagination, and let your mouth say the prayer nonstop, and immediately you will see the benefit of this method. Strive not to let desire and the image of that person win your heart and mind. Usually in the beginning of one’s monastic life, the devil brings to mind dear friends in order to break our soul’s strength and crush our soul’s struggle, and thus bring about a defeat with uncertain consequences. Therefore, we must not take things lightly, but must bravely resist temptation from the beginning by driving away images of people from our imagination, by saying the prayer, and by abstaining somewhat from food. Then with sincere and perpetual confession and with God’s grace as our ally, we trust that the enemy will retreat.

18. I received your letter, my child, and saw the trick the devil played on you. Do not be distressed in such instances, but deal with this “expert” very simply: when he brings thoughts of unbelief, blasphemous thoughts, etc., have nothing to do with him, but pick up your prayer rope and start saying the prayer intensely—continuously, like o motor—and you will see in a little while that the distress and thoughts have left you. In such instances, do not dispute with him! Just say the prayer without any other thought or fantasy, and you will see everything fall apart like a spider’s web. Let no anxiety ruin your peacefulness.

19. To progress in the spiritual life, it is necessary to drive away the various evil thoughts as well as their evil fantasies that provoke us and defile our soul. We must not remain tepid in driving away evil thoughts and fantasies, because every sin originates from the imagination and thoughts. So if we uproot evil thoughts and fantasies by diligently driving them away, we should realize that we are undertaking a systematic struggle towards purity from passions, and thereafter one is freed from spiritual and mental disturbances. But when, on the contrary, we neglect to undertake this struggle to purify our nous from evil thoughts and fantasies, inevitably the vile passions will conquer us and henceforth the demons and sins will control us.

20. Be extremely careful with your imagination. Do not accept any image, because it will become an idol that you will worship. A wandering mind is a shameless bird and paints the most grotesque images: it enters into the depths of our neighbor’s conscience and depicts his secret and hidden things. Immediately destroy the image with the prayer as soon as it begins to form. The more you delay, the more you will toil and suffer later.

21. Each one of us needs to attend to himself, to his work, and primarily to his heart—to see if he has remembrance of God, death, hell, heaven, and every other beneficial divine recollection. The fact that we do not have spiritual consolation is due to our daydreaming and lack of introspection along with remembrance of God. Your thoughts should revolve upon yourselves; give spiritual work to your mind, and do not let it wander about here and there. Force yourselves a little to be silent; do not speak unnecessarily; pray constantly; criticize yourselves internally—do not justify yourselves. In conclusion, without compelling and constraining ourselves, nothing spiritual can be accomplished.


silver

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