A real story where the disciple thought he knew better than his spiritual father …
‘It was a day in Great Lent that the Elder saw from afar a burglar breaking into his cell.
This burglar was the same one like last year …
The Elder hid in the barn until the burglar completed his task.
When the Elder’s disciple later found out, he was furious and scolded his Elder:
– “Why did you not call me to catch him? This is the same burglar who broke into us last year and remains unrepentant!”
– “Who knows, my child”, answered the Elder. “Maybe he will repent this year …”
-“And if he repeats this again?”, the disciple burst out.
-“Then, my child, I must run, open the door and give him everything, so that he will not fall into temptation for a third time …”
The disciple knelt, kissed his spiritual father’s hand, and left in tears…’
Flee swiftly from my heart, all-crafty one.
Flee from my members and from my life.
Deceiver, serpent, and fire, Belial, sin,
death, abyss, dragon, night, snare, and frenzy,
chaos, manslayer, and ferocious beast!
Thou didst entice into perdition those
first-formed folk, my foreparents, offering them
at the same time the taste of sin and death.
Christ, the Ruler of all commandeth thee to
flee into the billows, to fall upon the rocks,
or to enter the herd of swine, O baleful one,
as once He bade that presumptuous Legion.
Nay, yield forthwith, lest I smite thee with the Cross,
whereat all things tremble;
I bear the Cross upon me, in all my members.
I bear the Cross whene’er I journey, whene’er I sleep.
I hold the Cross in my heart. The Cross is my glory.
O mischievous one, wilt thou never cease from
dogging me with traps and laying snares for me?
Wilt thou not dash thyself upon the precipices?
Seest thou not Sodom? Oh, wilt thou not speedily
assail the shameless herds of ungodly heretics,
who, having so recklessly sundered the Almighty
Godhead, have witlessly destroyed and abolished It?
But comest thou against my hoariness? Comest thou
against my lowly heart? Thou ever blackenest me,
O foe, with darksome thoughts, pernicious thoughts.
Thou hast no fear of God, nor of His Priests.
This mind of mine, most evil one, was verily
a mighty and loud-voiced herald of the Trinity.
And now it beholdeth its end, whither it goeth in haste.
Confuse me not, O slimy one, that I might, as pristine,
meet the pure lights of Heaven, that they might
shine like lightning flashes upon my life.
Lo, receive me; lo, I stretch forth my hands.
Farewell, O world! Farewell, thou who bringest woes upon me!
Pity be shown to all that shall live after me.
Reflections on the sin of pride by St John Cassian
By the following indications, then, that carnal pride of which we have spoken is made manifest.
First of all, a person’s talking will be loud and his silence bitter;
his joy will be marked by noisy and excessive laughter, his seriousness by irrational sadness;
his replies by rancor, his speech by glibness,
and his words will burst out helter- skelter for a heed-less heart.
He will be devoid of patience, without love,
quick to inflict abuse, slow to accept it,
reluctant to obey except when his desire and will anticipate the matter,
implacable in receiving exhortations, weak in restraining his own will,
very unyielding when submitting to others,
constantly fighting on behalf of his own opinions
but never acquiescing or giving in to those of others.
And so, having become unreceptive to salutary advice,
he relies on his own judgement in every respect
rather than on that of the elders.” (The Institutes, pp. 271-272)
February 17, 1980
I experienced amazement and divine wonder tonight in my poor prayer. My nous tasted God. “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)
All this is a fruit of the labor of my Holy Elder, who truly toiled inside the caves of Athos with fasts, vigils, weeping, and tears. I, on the other hand, am a miserable, hideous monstrosity; an unmonastic monk; a sluggard eating the labor of my father, Saint Joseph. If God did not have mercy on me through his intercessions, I would be spiritually lost.
The festival in heaven entices me—there in the eternal and immutable blessings, where only silence reigns, since it is the only thing one is able to do. But when shall I behold the face of my lovely Father!!! When shall I be satisfied with His glory? Oh, what beauty! But I am a filthy stench and the demons’ joy.
My God, forgive me, the nothing of nothingness. Only Your mercy saves me from my evil self…
February 18, 1980
The communication of my sinful soul with the supremely radiant God was very wonderful tonight. The heavenly world is a different realm; a different mode of life; a different atmosphere.
My God, what can I, the miserable pauper, say about what You are! You are a stupendous and immense delight. You are impalpable, and yet how are You touched? For when this contact happens, the soul is electrified with divine electricity, and sweet and beautiful tears run and run from my eyes. But in the heart, what happens!
My incomprehensible, inexpressible, and lovely God, what can I, the miserable one say about You! There are no words, there is no man capable or competent to do so. One can only feel reverence, worship, sacredness, and divine love in silent amazement.
Oh, how much I would like to be no longer on earth with the uncertainty of my salvation! Oh, if only I were already in the world of my God, my Father, my worship. There is eternity, certainty, and security.
I weep because I am the greatest sinner in the whole world. I mourn the uncertainty of my salvation. I do not know if I shall be saved. Here is the crux of the matter. Alas! I wonder, shall I reach the calm haven of eternal bliss? I wonder, shall I see the glory of my God?
Have pity on me, O only-begotten Logos of God,
My Jesus Christ
Excerpt from Blessed Seraphim’s Rose correspondence:
“First Sunday of Great Lent, 1980
Glory be to God, we passed the first week of Lent well, although the devil seems to attack stronger than ever. Last night at the Vigil we had a fire in church, which, if Br. G had not noticed it when he did, might have destroyed the whole church. Just a few minutes before the fire there had been a strong (and I think beneficial) human confrontation almost on that very spot, and it was obvious to me that the fire was caused by the devil’s envy that I secretly rejoiced, seeing that he attacked our property out of frustration at losing his human prey. The same day a piece on our main printing press broke, but I think I can fix it from a part on the other press. But how well God preserves us in the midst of such trials!”