Saturday, November 17, 2012

St. Paisios Velichkovsky: "Labor for virtue according to your strength..."



St. Seraphim of Sarov praying for 1000 days on a rock in asceticism (source)
   
St. Paisios Velichkovsky: "Labor for virtue according to your strength..."
“Virtue is acquired by every kind of forcing oneself.
   
Therefore, if you wish to conquer the passions, cut off the love of pleasure; but if you are pursuing food, you will spend a life in passions; the soul will not be humbled if the flesh is not deprived of bread. It is not possible to deliver the soul from perdition while protecting the body from unpleasantness. Therefore let us return to what is primary.
   
If you wish to be saved, O my soul, to go first on the most sorrowful path which has been indicated here, to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom and receive eternal life – then refine your flesh, taste voluntary bitterness, and endure difficult sorrows, as all the Saints tasted and endured. And when a man is preparing himself and gives himself the command to endure for the sake of God all sorrows and pain which come upon him, then light and painless seem for him all sorrows, unpleasantnesses and attacks of devils and men. He does not fear death, and nothing can separate such a one from the love of Christ.
   
Have you heard, my beloved soul, how the Holy Fathers spent their lives? O my soul! Imitate them at least a little.
   
Did they not have tears? O woe, my soul.
   
Were they not sorrowful, thin and worn out in body? O woe, my soul.
   
Did they not have bodily illnesses, great wounds and lamentation of soul with tears? O woe, my soul.
   
Were they not clothed in the same infirm body that we have? O woe, my soul!
   
Did they not have the desire for splendid, sweet and light repose in this world and every bodily repose?
Yes, they desired these things, and their bodies in truth were afflicted, but they exchanged their desires for patience and their grief for future joy. They cut off everything once and for all. They considered themselves as dead men, and tormented themselves mercilessly in spiritual labors. Do you see, my soul, how the Holy Fathers labored, having no repose and suffering every kind of evil? They subjected the flesh to the spirit and fulfilled all the other commandments of God, and were saved.
   
But you, O pitiful soul, do not at all wish to force yourself, and you grow faint from small labors, grow despondent and do not at all remember the hour of death and weep over your sins; but you have become accustomed, my wretched soul, to eat to the fill, to drink to the fill and to be slothful. Do you not know that you are called voluntarily to torment? And yet you endure nothing. How then do you wish to be saved?
   
At least from this time forth, then: Arise, my beloved soul, and do what I shall tell you.
   
If you cannot labor as the Holy Fathers did, then at least begin according to your strength.”
   
The Patriarch Jacob wrestling with God (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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