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 (Part II)
By Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)
Our spirit is saddened, everything is sorrow and suffering. You have seen for yourself: when you are in a state of peace, all is well, but here in this life, such peace does not last for long. It is disturbed very easily. For this reason we must always be in contact with the Source of Life, with God--always without ceasing. As soon as our inner peace is troubled, we must immediately ask for His help--just like a little child who, when separated from his mother, immediately cries and calls out to her. He is afraid to be alone. So it is with our soul: when it finds itself alone (separated from the Lord) it suffers a great deal, but when it is united with the Lord, no matter what misfortunes come upon it, all is well. The soul surmounts all difficulties because it is joyful to be with the Lord; it feels Divine joy and peace. The soul knows that it must pass through the fire and water of this world in order to rise above the little things of this world that torment us. What torments us most are our thoughts. Thoughts make us do all kinds of things, then we lose our peace and are tormented by our conscience. These pangs of conscience are nothing but the judgment of God within us. And so, we must make peace with our Heavenly Father and turn to Him from our heart, asking Him to forgive us and give us of His Grace and His Divine strength in order that we may always remain in peace and joy, like the Angels and the Saints. Amen.
We have been endowed with many gifts from God, but we do not know how to live as we should, and we create Hades in us and around us. Bishop Nikolai [Velimirovich] once told the story of a priest who kept asking to be transferred to another parish. After a while Bishop Nikolai answered his pleas, saying, "Father, I would be glad to grant your wish for a transfer if only you were not going to take yourself there!" (St. Nikolai (Velimirovich) was implying that the priest would be just as unhappy in a different parish, as it was not the place but rather his inner state which was disturbing him).
When a person is in the power of the evil spirits, a false sense of peace reigns in him all the time. The devil does not tempt him with anything. We all have our periods of peace and quiet but also periods of war. The Lord permits this so that we may become well-versed in spiritual warfare and may learn to conquer evil. Much time must pass before we attain the ability to conquer a bad trait that has been part of our personality for years, since our childhood. For this we need a spiritually experienced advisor who has himself passed through all of these phases of the spiritual life. A spiritual father or guide can teach us how to overcome such traits and how to win and preserve inner peace.
Saint Isaac the Syrian says, "Preserve your inner peace at any cost. Do not trade your inner peace for anything in the world. Make peace with yourself, and heaven and earth will make peace with you."
We must always be vigilant. Vigilance and discernment are the things we need. The Lord said to Joshua, son of Nun, "Whatever you do, think it over well" (cf. Joshua 1:8).
If we at first believe that what we are about to say will be to someone's benefit, but then, after we use our discernment, we decide that our words will only hurt the other person, then it is better to remain silent. Everything should be done with discernment. When one uses one's discernment, the one is also vigilant. Vigilance is also needed in prayer. Our attention must precede our prayer. We must know what we are asking for in prayer. You see, when we ask a favor of someone, we say, "I know you can help me if you apply yourself to it." That means our attention is on the words we are saying when asking for help.
If this is the case when we are turning to a person for help, how much more should out attention be focused when we are praying to the Lord. Who is our life! But we have found ways to shorten our prayer rule: we recite our prayers by rote or read them from a book. Our hearts and our feelings have no part in such prayer, and in the end we often do not even know what we have read.
We can go wherever we want and do whatever we want, but that is not freedom. Freedom belongs to God. When a person is free from the tyranny of thoughts, that is freedom. When he lives in peace, that is freedom. He is always in prayer, he is always expecting help from the Lord--he listens to his conscience and does his best. We must pray with our whole being, work with our whole being, do everything with our whole being. We must also not be at war with anyone and never take any offense to heart. Let it be. Today we are offended by one person--who knows who will offend us tomorrow? We are constantly thinking about these insults, but we should just let them be in peace. We should never take them to heart. When we do, the Adversary (Satan) will try to do it again, but if we just let the insult bounce off us, and remain peaceful, then people will give up trying to offend us. And people will ask you, "How come you are always at peace? Everyone else is nervous and easily offended, while you don't seem to be interested in this life at all. How did you become like that? How can you stay so calm? Well, that is how the Lord keeps us from harm.
ON THE SPIRITUAL REALM
When I was in the Vlashki Dol parish church, a certain man came to see me and to tell me his story. Here is what he related:
He was sitting on the steps of his home, tired after a long day's work in the fields, when out of nowhere a stranger appeared. He thought that it was an unexpected guest arriving at his home, but the stranger invited him to take a walk with him. He led him away. The man had no notion where the stranger was taking him. And as they walked, suddenly a woman appeared before them. She was full of Light. As soon as she asked, "Where are you taking him?" the stranger disappeared. Then she asked the bewildered man, "Do you know where you are?" He answered that he did not. Then she struck him and repeated the question. He still did not know where he was. After she had struck him a second time, he recognized his home and the surrounding fields. She told him to go home. The man wanted to thank her, but she had vanished. Then he went home, and the first thing his wife asked him was, "What's that thing around your neck?" He looked, and it was a noose. The stranger clearly a demon, was taking him away to make him hang himself. The man asked me to give him a little paper icon of the Most Holy Theotokos because he believed that it had been she who had save him/
So, we can see that sometimes God permits the Most Holy Mother of God to even appear to us and deliver us.
(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