Counsels from the Holy Mountain

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 4/3/2010, 03:08

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

17 .
In this world, my child, people are divided into good and bad, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, noble and lowborn, smart and not so smart. All, however, have one thing in common: suffering. For without exception all people will suffer in their life. As the maxim says: “It is a wonder if anyone has been happy throughout his life”. So then, all people live in the kingdom of suffering. We know that suffering is something personal, which one must face alone. It is his cross, which he must carry, just as the Savior of the world, Jesus, carried His cross for our sake. So be at ease, my child, in the paternal hand, which at this time performs surgery on you by means of suffering, and be calm. Accept that God sends it to you, reconcile yourself with suffering, so that you will be able to face it. I know how difficult this is, but also how beneficial for your salvation. The saints rejoiced in their afflictions; let us at least accept ours with patience, and God will not forget even this miniscule, voluntary patient acceptance of His will, which is represented by suffering. My child, muster the powers of your soul when you suffer, and try to understand the purpose of suffering, through which God opens heaven for you. Do you think that He Who numbers the hairs of your head does not know the measure of your suffering? Yes, He knows it. Therefore be at rest, trusting in our heavenly Father. Do not grow weary; with our Christ’s help you will pass through everything, and will also become His heir in the boundless fortune of our common Father. Amen.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 5/3/2010, 05:34

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

18 .
Are you able to enumerate the mercies of God? The sins of the worst person, before the compassion of God, are like a handful of sand in the ocean. There is no sin which overcomes the compassion of God. God may be portrayed as our mother: is it possible for the sin of a child to overcome his mother’s love? If a mother loves her child so much, how infinitely does God love us, Who clearly proved this by being crucified on the Cross? The Apostle Peter denied the Lord three times, yet through repentance he was restored. The great persecutor of Christians, the Apostle Paul, through repentance became the chief of the Apostles. Prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors, and innumerable other guilty people were sanctified by repentance. For this reason, cast away your distress and excessive remorse; be hopeful; take courage, and drive away every thought of despair.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 6/3/2010, 03:30

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

19 .
No matter how much we may suffer, the time will come when all will end and each one of us will be given repose in accordance with his labors. Are you afflicted? Are you in pain? Do you weep from the pressure of sorrowfull events? Are you weary? Take courage, for through such things the kingdom of God is acquired. But if you have it easy in everything and do not remember God, then grieve, for you are not walking the path that leads to God. Afflictions, sicknesses, and torments weary us continually so that we abhor this world and desire the world there, where Cherubim and Seraphim hymn God, where there is the real and true repose, the day without evening, the blessed light; while things here, in comparison with the eternal things, are dark and abominable. May our holy God grant us spiritual understanding, so that we always prefer the everlasting things, the highest good, our sweet God.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 7/3/2010, 02:06

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

20 .
Οh, how beneficently our God and Father intervenes by means of pain in the life of man, His child! If man knew the spiritual benefit that pain brings, he would pray to bear all kinds of pain throughout his life in order to deposit spiritual “money”, the money of pain, in the bank of God, in the city above, and to receive the money of blessedness at the time when all souls will receive the wages for labors, pain, and afflictions.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 8/3/2010, 01:32

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

21 .
Have patience, my child, in the trial which the goodness of God is sending you for the greater benefit of your soul. You should rejoice, because this shows God’s concern for your greater spiritual progress, primarily in humility. Many times, man’s pride becomes a cause for God to give us a fatherly “slap” so that we walk more securely in humility. This is the best sign of how greatly God is concerned for our souls. So be patient, my child. This is also a cross; take it up for the love of the Lord. Resemble Him, so that He may give you His love; for He says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me”. (Jn. 14:21 ). One of His commandments is obedience until Golgotha, with the cross on our shoulder. Blessed is he who endures trials, for as one tried he will receive the crown of eternal life. (cf. Jas 1:12 ).

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 9/3/2010, 02:08

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

22 .
We are disciplined that we may become worthy of the heavens. The heavenly Father disciplines us in every way in order to form a spiritual character within us, so that we may resemble our heavenly Father as His children. We must nurture in ourselves characteristics with clearly reflect that we are legitimate sons of God. Let us be distinguished in patience, in meeckness, in love, in brotherly affection, and so forth—characteristics of God’s children, who are about to inherit, along with Christ, the boundless spiritual riches of the heavenly Father. Be courageous, my child, in the struggle; through many tribulations we shall ascend to heaven. The path of our salvation is strewn with thorns, and we shall have pain and shed blood; but be patient. The blessed hour will come when all the pain and blood will inscribe our names in the book of life! Then we shall bless God, Who with unfathomable wisdom devised pain and affliction as a means of great salvation. Do not grow tired of crying out to Christ, if you want your mouth to be sanctified. As for the temptations which you see in your sleep, do not think about them, but disregard them, for they themselves do not have any substance. When you disregard them, they will not bother you.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 10/3/2010, 03:06

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

23 .
My blessed child, may joy and peace be upon your dear little soul. Trials are always beneficial when we bear them patiently. When the trials have passed, they leave behind experience for the one tried by them, and fruit in proportion to the patience and skill which he showed in the struggle. Since there is no road which saves other than trials, what should we do? Have patience to the point of shedding blood. This is also how our fathers struggled, and they became holy. Trials befit us also in order that we be humbled—even though we are humble by nature—that is, we are made of earth and even our works are like rubbish and chaff. Do not forget, my child, what the sweet-scented mouth of Jesus said: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33 ). Therefore, whoever has Christ with him will also overcome the world of his passions. Do not let the magnitude of the trials terrify you, but be attentive lest the enemy craftily robs you with thoughts without your realizing it, lest you continue yielding to the point that evel thoughts coerce you. Anyway, the truth is one: most holy humility is the most salvific medicine. Be humble in everything, and without the least doubt you will by all means obtain perfect—or at least satisfactory—freedom from the passions.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 11/3/2010, 02:44

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

24 .
I pray, my child, that you have peace in both soul and body, for what is more beautiful than peace of soul and health of body! Both make man’s life pleasant; in their absence, however, a harsh tempest rises and the little boat of one’s soul is tossed about in the midst of raging waves. How many prayers are offered then! But the Lord, when He was on earth, met a similar storm: “and He rebuked the wind and the sea and there was a great calm.” (cf. Mk. 4:39 ). Let us call on this peacemaking Lord and Master whenever spiritual storms overcome us, my child, and I believe that when we call on Him with faith, He will hasten to our aid and say, “Behold, I am here”.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 12/3/2010, 03:49

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

25 .
Blessed daughter…, the Lord be with you. I received your little letter; do not grieve so much, my child. Moderation is necessary in all things, for by weeping excessively you will get worse, because the nervous system does not endure great grief and distress. See to it that you be humble and careful, and that you not grieve the Eldress, but do whatever she tells you with faith, and you will miraculously see the hand of God caressing you! Do not stray off the straight path, so that you are not tormented by remorse. Make an effort, my good child, to correct yourself a little, cutting off your own will entirely, and be careful not to do things without a blessing,* but ask the Eldress for whatever you want. And if she does not allow some of the things you want, be patient, for it is then that your genuine love for Christ is demonstrated. For if our elders fulfill our every wish, then where is that virtue which is called cutting off of the will? Yes, my child, compel yourself. I know what you are suffering from and how much you suffer, but it takes patience. For even our Christ was patient, when we were sinning in front of Him and He was waiting for us to repent. I pray that our Panagia** may always console you and refresh your dear little soul. Amen.

*Blessing (ευλογία )
Βesides its usual meanings, a “blessing” can also mean the permission given by one’s spiritual father for a particular action.

**Panagia (Παναγία )
This title of the Virgin Mary means “the all-holy one.”

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 13/3/2010, 02:03

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

26 .
My blessed child, may the God of love be with you. Be patient in everything, for it is in this way that you will reap benefit from everything. Our Christ loves you, and for this reason He continually visits you so much. If He did not love you, He would have abandoned you and you would have been lost, whereas now you are alive and are struggling. It is irrelevant if you suffer temporally; consider and meditate on what is eternal, and this will relieve and refresh you in the burning heat of harsh trials. You are passing through the furnace that trfines those souls which have dedicated their lives to God. So take courage and rejoice, for through this your soul will be purified to receive the most pure Lord. Be humble and love everyone for the love of Christ, and in this way you will be saved. I leave you with the peace and love of God.
With fatherly love, Geronda.*

*Geronda (Γέρων )
A geronda (pronounced “yeh-ron-da” ) is a hieromonk, priest, or monk who, ideally, has reached dispassion by the grace of God. Thus, because of his own experience, he is able to lead his spiritual children to dispassion as well. In a broader sense, though, it is used as a respectful title for any spiritual father and any elderly hieromonk, priest, or monk.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 14/3/2010, 04:58

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

27 .
My blessed child, I pray that the Heavenly Father grants you discernment so that you can discern the truth from the devil’s lie. Concerning the first thought that you wrote about, I reply: Didn’t God declare that Job was blameless? Then why did He permit trials so severe that he reached such a difficult situation that he cursed the day of his birth? Nevertheless, all this was permitted in order to teach him, of course; for this is what the Lord usually does: first He tests and then He shows His love. The love of God is manifested not only when He caresses, but also when He slaps. If the Heavenly Father slaps us, He reveals through this that He loves us. If God did not consider us His children, He would not have sent us trials but would have abandoned us as we are: spiritually uneducated, without any solicitude. In the order world, the ones nearest the Lord will be those who have been educated in soul and wise in spiritual struggles. And because He loves us wretched ones and wants to honor us, He educate us spiritually here, in the University of Monasticism. But since we are inexperienced as to how Divine Providence works, we blame God, asking why He should send us trials, and thus we jeopardize our eternal happiness through our ignorance. Spiritual education consists of deliverance from the passions and especially from egotism. So, my child, let us struggle not to condemn; let us say, “Bless”*, and, “May it be blessed”. Let us have genuine love. And when do we have genuine love? When we do not condemn the others, but justify them.

*Bless (ευλογείτε, ευλόγησον )
Ιn addition to its regular meaning, this word is used by monastics also to mean: (1 ) “Forgive me”; (2 ) “Hello”; or (3 ) “Good-bye”.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 15/3/2010, 02:49

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

28 .
Do not lose your courage, my child. The deprivations we bear are meant to prepare for us the eternal enjoyment of heaven! We knowingly deprive ourselves of the pleasurable things of this life for the love of our Christ. If we wanted to, we could enjoy them freely, but voluntarily we do not accept them so that we may be given the affectionate love of our exceedingly sweet Jesus. My daughter, we have an immortal and eternal Bridegroom, Who preserves the glory of virginity forever. We have been called to become angels, my beloved daughter, so shouldn’t we deprive ourselves of things pleasurable and sinful? Isn’t worth depriving ourselves of foul things for Jesus’ divine love? So struggle worthily of your calling with fortitude. The martyrs shed their blood for the love of our Christ, so can’t we resist one loathsome, counterfeit pleasure? Glorify God in your body and in your soul.
Struggle to the end.
Farewell, my daughter.
Your father.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 16/3/2010, 02:47

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

29 .
Here in this vain world, my child, we shall be afflicted, we shall be embittered, we shall feel pain. But all this is for a limited time; it is temporary—let us pray that God does not abandon us to an eternal degree and measure, for then we would not bear it. Whenever you are in pain and are afflicted, call to mind Him Who was Crucified and then you will find much relief. For who could gaze at the Crucified One and reflect on His Passion which He suffered for us, and not find balm for his wounds, whether spiritual or physical? Look up, my child, there on Golgotha, there where the holy Lamb triumphed victoriously in order to wash the wounds of our sins and passions with His Blood. His compassion is great; never lose your confidence in Him Who was crucified for you. I pray that you pass Great Lent with flourishing health of both soul and body. Amen.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 17/3/2010, 02:24

Chapter Two
On Afflictions, Pain, and Labors

30 .
A physician torments a sick person with operations, bitter medicines, amputation of body parts, etc., with the purpose, of course, of curing him and not of torturing him out of wickedness. Likewise God, as the Physician of our souls and bodies, heals us with all kinds of medicines, afflictions, and sufferings to give us our spiritual health, which is the greatest good that exists. But those who are indignant and do not bear it patiently—like me—lose the spiritual benefit and thus gain only pain. So since God saves us in such a miraculous way, we have the necessary obligation to thank Him unceasingly and to bless His All-holy Name. We should do so not only with our mouth, but primarily with our works, so that no deed of ours may offend God’s grandeur. For if we bless Him with our lips and revile Him with our works, then we are mocking Him. Let us make an effort not to grieve our Christ by any offense, so that the Holy Spirit may rest in our souls. Amen.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 18/3/2010, 01:16

On Illness

1
The truth is that the illnesses, afflictions, and tribulations of Christians bring about the cleansing of their soul and the forgiveness of their sins. Every Christian has the sacred obligation to accept with a guileless and simple heart whatever kind of cross God has placed upon him, and to carry it up to glorious Golgotha. Sometimes he may fall to his knees under the toil and burden, but God will send another good Simon of Cyrene (vid. Mt. 27:32 )—that is, the grace of patience—who will lift the cross to Golgotha. When we visit a cemetery, we see a cross on every grave—some wooden, others stone, others iron, etc. Likewise, God gives a cross to every Christian soul. To one He gives an iron cross, to another a wooden cross, to another a stone cross; each person is given one as the wisdom of God deems best. The main purpose of the Lord is to save our precious soul, regardless of whether or not it suffers in the process. He Himself provides us with the patience and enlightenment to be able to bear the cross to the end. The afflictions felt in illnesses are sent by the holy hand of our good God. The most effective medicine for spiritual health is bodily illness. Illnesses are the reveille for the soul that has become drowsy with the narcotic drink of ignorance, of forgetfulness of God. Illnesses force the soul that has become careless, because of its spiritually harmful physical health, to get back to the right way of life. “In affliction I remembered Thee” (Is. 26:16 ). “In my affliction Thou hast made me prosper” (Ps.4:1 ). “We must through many tribulations enter into life” (cf. Acts 14:22 ). “By your patience possess your souls” (Lk. 21:19 ). The slaps of pure love are absolutely never occasioned without a holy and saving purpose foreseen! The Lord tells us in the Holy Gospel that without the will of our heavenly Father, not even a sparrow falls dead, and that the very hairs of our head are numbered (cf.Mt.10:29-30 ). How assuring these words are that all our deeds, words, and thoughts are known to God, and that our afflictions occur with His knowledge, are from His providence, and aim at some salvific goal! What great corruption, both physical and spiritual, did mankind have before the coming of the Lord! Which medicine brought about spiritual rebirth to the souls of men? Was it not the gigantic Cross of our Lord Jesus? If the Lord had not died on the Cross, man could not have been saved in any other way. Jesus became a model for us by bearing His Cross. He showed thus that whoever wants to be saved must follow Him, endure the cross which the Lord will lay upon him according to his strength, ascend to Golgotha, be crucified together with Jesus, and then be glorified together with the Lord in the kingdom of God. When the soul sees that the glory and repose in the bliss of heaven are given in proportion to the cross it carried, it will regret that it did not carry a heavier cross in order to receive greater glory and repose. It will say, “The labor then lasted only a short time, whereas now I am deprived of eternal blessings! Even the Patriarch Abraham, when he sees blessings being distributed, will regret not having struggled more! One young girl was continuously sick with a nasty illness, which finally killed her. One night she appeared to her sister, who asked her, “How are you doing, my sister, in the place where you are”? And she answered, “What can I say, my sister? Christ gave me much glory and repose because of my illness. Oh, if only I could return to the earth to suffer a greater illness, so that I would receive more glory here!” If the Lord Himself—the omnipotent and sinless One—carried a cross for the sake of man, for his salvation, how much more so do we sinners, who sin every hour, need a cross for our salvation? “I made ready and was not troubled” (Ps.118:60 ), says the Prophet David. We must always be ready to endure without grumbling every trial that the holy hand of the Physician will send us. Since this trial comes from and is permitted by Him Who loves us boundlessly, the trial will absolutely never be for our harm, for after it is over we shall see its good result; we shall see God’s main purpose. The Lord Jesus, foreseeing the future trials of His followers, gave them support by saying, “By your patience possess your souls. He who endures to the end will be saved” (Lk. 21:19, Mt. 10:22 ). By enduring your illness with patience, you are also counted among the beloved children of God. Your burden will one day become your resurrection; your sorrows, joy; your patience, eternal life! Cry out with thankfulness to the Lord: “Blessed be the name of the Lord. As it seemed good to the Lord, so has it come to pass. Glory to God for everything” (cf. Job 1:21 ). As you cry out like this, your soul will be filled with joy and peace, and at the same time you will strengthen yourself in patience. What is a Christian? What must he have? Certainly, he must have much patience in everything. The road that takes wayfarers to the city of paradise is completely strewn with thorns; those who travel along it will bleed. But the hope of enjoying paradise overcomes everything and provides the wayfarers with patience—as the forty holy martyrs said when they were thrown into the frozen lake: “Winter is bitter, but paradise is sweet; the frost is painful, but the enjoyment will be sweet”. May the all-good God also count us the lowly along with those who labor and are heavy-laden in order to give us eternal repose. Amen.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 19/3/2010, 02:10

On Illness

2 .
From the time our sweet Jesus lifted the life-giving wood of the precious Cross on His immaculate shoulders and was hanged upon it, from that time and throughout the ages, lifting the cross is continued by His followers in the form of various afflictions and trials, through which the Christian triumphs over the many forms of destructive self-love. Through Luke the Evangelist, the Savior stresses that “whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Lk. 14:27 ). And again: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Lk. 9:23 ). Abba Isaac, the hesychast philosopher, says, “Man changes at every moment.” Indeed, the dispositions of both the soul and body do not stop changing at any moment, sometimes bringing about distress, at other times pain, sometimes expectation of sad news, at other times an undefined disorder and distress of soul and body. All of these are due to either bodily or spiritual causes, which confirm God’s curse that burdened the race of man due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve. But the good Jesus, the Tree of life, on the one hand by His holy example, and on the other by His divine teachings, pours out the balsam of consolation upon the cross of afflictions along with many life-giving assurances that it is through many tribulations that we shall be able to enter His kingdom(cf. Acts 14:22 ). In the Old Testament, in the Book of Numbers, among other things, the following distinctive event is narrated: “When the Israelites had disobeyed God in the wilderness, as a punishment for their disobedience He sent serpents to them which bit and killed them. But God heard the prayer of Moses, who was fervently praying for this wrath to abate, and ordered him to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on the pole. And all who were bitten by the serpents were immediately healed when they looked at the bronze serpent” (cf. Num. 21:6-9 ). And in the Holy Gospel, our Jesus likened the elevation of the bronze serpent to His own life-giving elevation on the Cross by saying: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” (Jn.3:14 ). So sin—which is the meaning of the poisonous serpent—bites man, poisoning the entire being of his poor soul through culpable and passionate pleasure, which brings about the soul’s death and separation from God. But our Christ, the noetic bronze serpent, who was hanged on the life-giving wood of the precious Cross, through the lofty truths of the gospel, heals the souls that have been bitten by various sins, giving them a living hope of a life beyond comprehension. “O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? (1 Cor. 15:55 ). The powers of your horrible tyranny were abolished, annihilated, enfeebled, and completely put to death by the death and resurrection of Jesus, our God, Who saves our souls. The heart is poisoned and darkened by pleasure and sensuality. Then, since it is darkened, it does the work of darkness, grieving the Holy Spirit Whom it had received through rebirth in the sacred baptismal font. Conversely, pain and affliction expel culpable sensuality from the heart. As it is cleansed by pain, it becomes capable of receiving the comforting Spirit. Once the good Comforter comes, He consoles, encourages, and enlightens the heart, and as a nurturer He gives it life with the divine teachings and the aids of joy and hope. So look upon the noetic bronze serpent, Jesus, Who heals through pain all souls that suffer from the bites of poisonous sin in its many forms. From the unshakeable truths derived from experience, it follows that pain and affliction are the most essential medicine for the soul which is ill with sin. At the same time, they are also excellent teachers for the spiritual uplifting of the soul which has sullied its beauty in sin and moral darkness and has thereby acquired morally evil habits. Pain, in the various meanings of the word, becomes the skillful cultivator that takes a sinful soul that is like a wild olive tree and grafts it onto o good olive tree. Sin hardens the heart of the sinner and renders him unfeeling; nothing moves him, because God, Who has feeling and sympathy for people, is missing. However, what does God do—He Who loves mankind, Who “came to seek and to save that which was lost”? (cf. Lk. 19:10 ). He draws up a plan of salvation through pain, and especially through illness, for the soul which has gone astray. You see, for example, a youth in his prime, puffed up because of his strength and behaving arrogantly, forgetting about God and his soul—then suddenly he lies prostrate on a bed of pain. Then, as a most experienced and skillful doctor, pain begins its surgery. First, it operates on the heart by removing its hardness little by little, and thus it softens the soul. He who was formerly hard of heart becomes soft and calm in his feelings. He commiserates with his fellow patients, and he who was formerly unsympathetic speaks with sympathy. And once his heart has been prepared through these and various other feelings brought about by the instructive rod of pain, then the ears of his previously deaf soul open, and he accepts, retains, and attentively listens to the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. Then he who was formerly indifferent to God and to his soul becomes zealous in reading various religious books and periodicals. He begins to recall his sinfulness with genuine contrition and feeling. Thus he learns to pray with compunction and soon becomes an eloquent preacher of the benefactions of the excellent doctor, pain, proclaiming that it alone cures the illness of being far from God. Pain cures not only the person who is far from God; it also heals souls that are healthy, but partially ill with a “sickness not unto death,” (Jn. 11:4 ), such as occasional indifference, criticism, self-love, cowardice, doubts, and so on. Pain exercises its activity even in the saints so that through their patience their glory may be increased. However, the saints often suffer also to give an example to others, as happened with long-suffering Job, St. Syncletiki, and so many other saints. When we have a beautiful piece of furniture and leave it unattended to for a period of time, we see that a layer of fine dust settles upon it. True—it is not ruined, but it has lost some of its shine and beauty. This also happens to a healthy soul when it does not have afflictions now and then. For example, indifference, if one does not attend to it in time, little by little without anyone realizing it, settles in the soul like dust on the furniture, and the soul loses its original zeal towards God. It does pray; it does fulfill its duties, but not as it should. But if pain comes, if affliction visits, then the wind blows and the flame—that is, the zeal to fulfill its duties to God—is kindled again. Just as it happens with indifference, so it happens also with every other illness of the soul. Pain is the divine medicine which the infinite wisdom of God devised for the ailing soul, and He uses it with absolute authority and no reserve so that through such an effective medicine, we may come to our senses and be watchful and vigilant in executing His holy will. Thus at the time of repayment we may receive, as a reward for vigilantly cleaving to His will, entrance into the eternal delight of the Lord, rejoicing and exulting in it together with those who have been called from all ages. There, together with the Lady Theotokos, the angels, and all the saints, we shall praise with endless, joyful hymns the blessed name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom belong all glory, honor, and dominion unto the endless ages of ages.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 20/3/2010, 01:24

On Illness

3 .
God chastens and then heals; He raises up and casts down—who is able to withstand the will of the Lord? If God wills that we suffer, He has some salvific purpose in mind which we earthly ones are unable to foresee. Whereas patience, forbearance, and the humble acceptance of trials will always—yes, always—bring certain benefit later. My child, bear your cross, and know that all that we suffer is known to God, and as a true Father He tries in every way to form Jesus Christ within us (cf. Gal. 4:19 ). He wants us to suffer because He knows what He has prepared in the heavens for His suffering children. But if He did not send them afflictions, He would do them injustice, because they would be deprived of the ineffable blessings of heaven. The more we suffer, the more beautifully our crown of glory is woven! Never believe that you are possessed; never let any such thought deceive you. Such things happen to many monks when they become ill. This is how God has arranged things: when the body is ill, the soul follows accordingly, and when the soul suffers, the body also wastes away and sulks. The tempter was envious of you, my child, but let us be patient so that he may be foiled and God may be glorified. Who does not feel pain when he undergoes surgery, and who does not feel pain when he loses the grace of God and is swarmed by thousands of warped thoughts? This is how God’s wisdom has arranged things to bring about the soul’s correction. All things will pass, as well as the winter of our passions, and the sweet spring of health will blossom again, and you will rejoice and say, “It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 118:71 ). As nature’s seasons—winter, spring, summer, and autumn—follow one another, likewise the spiritual seasons follow each other. One goes, another comes—and thus the soul becomes accustomed to all spiritual changes and becomes wise and experienced. This experience is grace, which supports the soul in times of terrible changes, so that from past trials it will know well that only patience and forbearance can provide a peaceful state and beneficial thoughts. In this manner, we emerge from trials with benefit, and we become wiser and more experienced.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 21/3/2010, 00:31

On Illness

4 .
My child, although much of your illness is due to disobedience, the love of God is evident in you. God loves you very much, which is why He chastens you. God is working out your precious salvation through the trials you are undergoing. He wants to lighten your burden and fill the vessel of your soul with the gift of the great hope of obtaining heaven and dwelling eternally near Christ, Whom you have ardently loved in this life! So what remains for you to do? Maintain utmost patience, exercise courage in the trial you are undergoing, and give boundless thanks to the excellent Guide of our souls, coupled also with grace-filled humility. My child, walk up the path to Golgotha with the cross you have been given by the greatly beneficent hand of Him Who loves and chastens you so that you may partake of His holiness.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 22/3/2010, 01:01

On Illness

5 .
My child, I pray that the God of patience and consolation (Rom. 15:5 ) will strengthen you in your illness, which you have fallen into by the will of God. When I heard that you were seriously ill, I felt much pain for you and begged our Panagia to make you well, first in soul and then in body. My child, think of the holy martyrs—how much they endured for the love of our Christ! Therefore, you should also say to yourself, “Lowly one, patiently endure the torments of illness so that you may avoid the eternal torments of hell!” Those martyrs voluntarily submitted to the tortures of martyrdom, whereas you are in pain involuntarily. But even this is good; it will benefit you significantly—just bear the chastisement of the Lord with joy and thankfulness. Tell yourself these and other such things to strengthen yourself and to give yourself fortitude and consolation.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 23/3/2010, 02:02

On Illness

6 .
Entrust your health to God. If your illness or the doctor imposes something on you, accept it with the hope that through it God will accomplish what He wants. Of course, our self-denial should not lead us to death (which would be suicide ), nor should we have so much attentive care that it leads to self-love, but we should walk the middle road—that is, in faith we should do what is prescribed so that it is not considered to be suicide. But as to whether or not we shall get well through the means we use, in faith we leave this up to God. My child, have patience in all your sufferings. Illnesses provide great benefit to the soul when we endure them, as long as we blame ourselves for them, since we suffer from them primarily on account of our sins, and especially on account of our pride of heart.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 24/3/2010, 02:12

On Illness

7 .
I pray that you will always be healthy. But when you are ill, bear patiently the chastening of the Lord which is sent from His affectionate and immense heart. The chastening proceeding from such a heart will never be fruitless, harmful, or undiscerning. Rather, it chastens us for our own good, for the forgiveness of our sins, for our protection, and for eternal salvation! The heart that chastens us is the heart of God Himself, our heavenly Father. He sees all, especially the purpose of every act. He sees how you are suffering and are afflicted. Know that He will not try you beyond your strength. Through afflictions, He brings about the cleansing of your soul and its eternal salvation. “We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Rom. 5:3 ). As His children, God disciplines us so that His features may be formed in us. It is when children bear the features of their parents that their legitimacy shows. So this is the purpose of the Lord’s chastening. Your afflictions are salvific; always have hope and you will by no means be put to shame.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 25/3/2010, 00:05

On Illness

8 .
Ignorance, my child, is known as the soul’s death. Ignorance does not enlighten a sick person; it does not say to him: “Your illness is the will of God, and you ought to pass through it with patience and thankfulness, so that you will not become a transgressor before God with your impatience!” To the enlightened Christian, however, knowledge of God’s will not only makes him bear everything with thankfulness, but also helps him acquire a strong spiritual constitution and at the same time obtain the refreshment of consolation. He reflects: “By undergoing these pains and afflictions I am doing God’s will, and this will bring about the forgiveness of my previous offences. By paying here the debt of my sentence, I shall receive my freedom there in the life to come, where I shall live eternally—whereas here, no matter how much suffering I may undergo, it is temporary and short-lived”. So my child, we need patience so as not to be condemned with the unrepentant world. Regardless of what might happen to us, through patience everything is put aright, and the inner man will find peace, bearing patiently what God has allowed. Bear your cross, and I shall bear mine, as we follow the heavenly Bridegroom, Christ, Who for us ungrateful sinners bore a Cross of disgrace. What do we bear that is equal in worth to such good things that we enjoy from God? If I were to enumerate the blessings of God and the ingratitude of man, I think my mind would stop; for how can the finite mind comprehend the infinite benefactions of God towards man?

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 26/3/2010, 02:58

On Illness

9 .
May the God of patience and consolation (Rom. 15:5 ) grant you patience and His caress of consolation to strengthen you to continue the struggle. My child, do not look only at the present pains, but raise your eyes “as one weaned from his mother” (Ps. 130:3 ) and behold: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” (Rom. 8:18 ), who long for the manifestation of our Christ. Do not measure only the pains, but philosophically consider the reward, for isn’t God just? God deprived you of the comfort of having healthy feet in order to count you worthy to celebrate the great resurrection of your soul “with a joyful step” (Paschal Canon, Ode Five ) there in the Jerusalem on high. Yes, indeed, all of Scripture proclaims this. My child, walk in Christ bearing in mind the eternal joy to come. Do not grow weary of contending; do not imagine that you are beating the air, for truly there is a fight going on as there was with Job. He patiently bore a martyrdom of a variety of pains, and his wife pushed him towards eternal death through her evil advice; whereas you are being advised through these pains to obtain eternal life. He sat on a dung heap, was covered with sores, and was ridiculed as a sinner, but you rest at home upon a bed and are considered to be a virtuous Christian. Do you see how inferior we are? Therefore, endure patiently and thank God Who gave you such a gift, so that He might make you, as a grateful servant, a heir of His boundless kingdom! Amen; so be it.

silver

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 27/3/2010, 00:20

On Illness

10 .
You say that your brother was hungry, thirsty, and so on when he was sick, and he blasphemed. You also said that your brother was committing a mortal sin. God, though, Who is very compassionate, wanted to bring him to a realization of his guilt so that he would repent, so He gave him this illness out of paternal love as a spiritual medication to cure his soul of its illness. If you had looked after your brother and offered him every bodily comfort, what pains would he have suffered for God to see and have pity on him? You should realize that the more he was tormented, the more his penalty was lightened! God gave him the illness and allowed the brethren to neglect their duty towards him so that his conscience would make him feel remorse and repent. He is like a patient who is given medicine by a doctor, but lacks the necessary patience. Thus, he curses and grumbles at the doctor, which only leads to his own demise.

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Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 27/3/2010, 23:42

On Illness

11 .
When you are in pain, gather the powers of your soul and try to understand what heaven is trying to tell you in this trial of yours. If perhaps you cry from the pain, the tears will cleanse your vision, as it did to Job the much-suffering, and then you, too, will be able to say along with him, “now mine eye hath seen Thee” (Job 42:5 ).
Don’t forget that God sees you and watches you when you are in pain; He perceives even the beating of your heart. Consequently, He will not leave you without consolation and His fatherly protection. Naturally, the saints rejoiced in their afflictions; as for us, let us at least manage to accept affliction or pain patiently.
My child, pray within your heart, and the name of Jesus will become for you a comforting balm so that you can bear this trial of yours in a way which benefits you. You will greatly benefit from this trial if you submit yourself to it patiently. So again I say to you, with the almighty armor of prayer continually approach the omnipotent Lord more often, and you will come to know how He wondrously lifts the burden of pain and marvelously gives rest to sufferers.

silver

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