My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON INNER PEACE
By Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)
We must give ourselves over to the Lord. We must commit ourselves and all that we have to Him, for He is ever present. He wants us to be quiet and at peace, with no thoughts at all. This means that the heart must keep silence. The Holy Fathers tell us that our nous must descend into the heart. That is where our nous should be, without any thoughts or imaginings. The Holy Fathers further say that we must occupy the nous with the Jesus Prayer. Let our minds always be saying the Jesus Prayer, for He is always present, and let us always be in communion with Him.
We know that the Lord, while in the flesh, was kind to all people, even those who persecuted Him--Him, the Almighty God. He showed us how to avoid evil and not oppose it. He said to Himself (cf. St. Matthew 5:39). Not opposing evil means preserving one's inner peace. Opposing evil is evil; it involves a desire to return evil for evil, which is what the fallen spirits thrive on. However, when they attack us and find that we do not oppose them, then our peacefulness disarms them and they are defeated. Therefore we must try to always pray like this: "Lord, help me to preserve my inner peace, teach me how to be calm and peaceful and kind, just like Thine Angels."
In order to be able to do this, we must be with the Lord constantly in our thoughts. You see, we direct all our thoughts and all our attention to those whom we love. This is exactly how we should be toward God, for as our Parent, He rightfully asks that we give back to him what He has given us. This is for our own good, in order that we may participate in Divine joy, peace, and life. Let us, therefore, learn to return to God and seek Him ceaselessly through prayer.
The Holy Fathers tell us that we must preserve our inner peace at all costs and always be joyful, always in a good mood. But even Saint John of Kronstadt says, "We are like the weather: now the wind is blowing, a storm is raging, there is thunder and lightning and rain--but then the sun comes out and we feel well. Then another storm comes, and so on." He goes on to say that since we are in the body, the atmospheric conditions influence us a lot. When the conditions are good, when the atmospheric pressure is not too high or too low, and when the weather is fine, we also feel well. But when the skies are gray and cloudy, we become depressed. We must learn how to preserve our spiritual balance, and when the weather is cloudy and stormy we must be at peace and be joyful.
We must try to always be in good spirits, always joyful, because the spirits of evil want us to be sad all the time.
You must strive to have peace in your homes. Peace starts with each one of us. When we have peace in us, we spread it around to others. You can see for yourself that there are very few humble and meek souls on the earth--but also that they are truly blessed. They will not be offended if you insult them in any way. Whatever way you treat them, they are quiet and peaceful and they are truly sorrowed because you are in such spiritual torment.
We are always breaking God's law. We know that the worldly authorities punish transgressions of civil law and that breaking the civil law can have even lifelong consequences. Spiritual transgressions also have consequences, even great ones. There can be no peace in the world unless there is inner peace in each one of us.
As Saint Seraphim of Sarov says, in order for us to have inner peace and save our souls, we must look deep into ourselves and ask, "Where am I?" While doing so we must be careful to guard our senses, especially our eyes, so that they may be to our spiritual benefit. Gifts of Grace are given only to those who work for them by constantly guarding their souls.
How will we know whether we are living according to the will of God or not? If you are sad for whatever reason, this means that you have not given yourself over to God, although from the outside it may seem that you have. He who lives according to God's will has no worries. When he needs something, he simply prays for it. If he does not receive that which he asked for, he is joyful as though he had received it. A soul that has given itself over to God has no fear of anything, not even robbers, sickness or death. Whatever happens, such a soul always cries, "it was the will of God."
Here on earth we are given the chance to conquer all evil with peace and stillness. We can have peace when we live in surroundings that are peaceful and quiet, but that peace is not as stable and as permanent as the peace we acquire while living in chaotic conditions. When you move from quiet surroundings to chaotic ones, your mood changes instantly and you become irritable--all of a sudden evil thoughts assail you, and our mind is in hell. That is the end of peace. This is why the Lord guides us through sufferings and sorrows--so that we may, through them, acquire real peace. Without Him we would not have the strength to overcome these things.
There is the example of the holy martyr Catherine, who suffered for Christ when she was very young, only eighteen years old. Her tormentors threw her into a dungeon all tortured and broken, and the Lord appeared to her. When she asked Him, "Lord, where have You been all this time?" He answered, "I was here all the time, in your heart." "How can that be, O Lord, when my heart is impure, and full of evil and pride?" "Yes," said the Lord, "but you have left room in it for Me. Had I not been with you, you would not have been able to bear all these tortures. I will give you strength so that you can endure until the end."
The Holy Fathers say, "We know that God loves us when He takes us through many sufferings and misfortunes."
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (St. John 14:27) says the Lord, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (cf. St. John 14:6).
You should learn to love little things. Always try to be modest and simple in everything. When the soul is mature, God will give it peace. The Lord looks upon us and is pleased when we yearn after His peace. Until such time as the soul is mature enough to receive the Lord, He will only sometimes allow it to see and sense that He is present everywhere and fills all things. These are moments of indescribable joy. But after that, the Lord hides Himself from us once again in order that we might yearn for Him and seek Him with all our heart.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God