Saturday, August 29, 2015

God always provides for our goods

   God is kind by nature and always provides for our good and, when we ask Him for something, He will pro­vide it, as long as it is for our good. Whatever is necessary for the salvation of our soul and for the maintenance of our physical existence, God will provide it in abundance, and we'll have His blessing. Whatever He deprives us of, either to test us or to protect us, we accept with joy as well as with thoughtfulness, as it is for our benefit. God knows when and how to provide for His creation. He helps in His own way at the right time. However, often His weak creation is anxiously impatient because the moment we ask for something, we want to receive it, like a little child who wants the cookie from its mother even before it is baked. We shall ask, we shall be patient and when it is ready, our Good Mother, Panaghia, will give it to us.
   - Geronda, when do the Saints help?
   - Whenever it is necessary to help and not when we think it is time to help. In other words, they help when it will be beneficial for us. Do you understand? A child, for example, asks his father for a motorcycle, but the father doesn't buy it. The child then says, "I want the motorcycle because I get tired walking to school, to work." Still the father doesn't buy it because he is afraid of the dangers involved. "I will buy you a car later when you grow up," he tells his son. So they put the money in the bank and when enough money has been saved and the boy is more mature, they'll buy him a car. In the same way, the Saints know when they should help us.

   - Geronda, how do we feel God's mercy?        
   - God's mercy is the divine consolation that we feel in us. God arranges it so that we cannot be content and at ease in human consolation, and we take refuge in divine consolation. You see, for example, the Greeks in Australia, who found themselves entirely alone there, came closer to God than other emigrants, such as those in Germany, who were closer to their country and found many other Greeks there. The difficulties of life they encountered helped them to anchor themselves to God. They all left with a few belongings, they found themselves far away from their country, far from relatives; they needed to find work, to find a teacher for their children, and so on, without receiving any help from anywhere. This is why they turned to God and held on to their faith. Whereas in Europe, the Greeks didn't have these difficulties and so don't have this closer relationship with God.

   "Ask and It Shall Be Given You"

   -Geronda, since God knows our needs, why must we ask for His help?
   -Because there is freedom. And especially have compassion for our neighbour and ask God to help him, God is deeply moved and will then intervene without infringing upon man's free will. God has every good in­tention to help people who are suffering. But to help them, someone must ask Him. For if God helps someone, with­out anyone having made the request, then the devil will complain and say, "Why do you help him and infringe upon his free will? He is a sinner, he belongs to me." Here one can see the great and spiritual nobility of God, Who does not allow even the devil the right to complain. For God wants us to ask Him to intervene - and He wants to intervene directly if it is for our good - and to help His creatures according to their needs. God acts separately and specifically for each person, as is best for each.
   For God and the Saints to help someone, he himself must want it and ask for it, otherwise they do not intervene. Christ asked the paralytic, Would thou be made whole? If man does not want it, God respects that. If someone doesn't want to go to Paradise, God doesn't take him, un­less he was wronged out of ignorance, in which case he is entitled to divine assistance. Otherwise, God does not want to interfere. Someone asks for help and God and the Saints offer it. In the blink of an eye, they have already offered their help. Sometimes you don't even have the chance to blink; so quick is God to stand beside you.
   Ask, and it shall be given you, the Sacred Scripture says. If we do not ask for help from God, we will fall flat on our face. Whereas, when we do ask for divine help, Christ will bind us with a rope to His Grace and will uphold us. The wind may blow fiercely from all directions, but, because we are bound fast, we are not in danger. But when man does not realize that it is Christ who upholds him, he may unbind himself, in which case he will be buffeted left and right and tormented.
   You must know that only passions and sins are ours.
   Whatever good we do is from God, whatever foolish things we do come from us. When God's Grace aban­dons us for just a little while, we become unable to do anything. As in natural life, when God removes oxygen from us we die immediately. The same is true for spiritual life; if God removes His Grace, we are lost.
   Once I felt a certain gladness during prayer. For hours I stood in prayer, and did not feel at all tired. The more I prayed, the more I felt a sweet ease, a delight that I cannot express. Later, a human thought came to me: Because I am missing two ribs and can easily catch colds, I thought of wrapping myself with a shawl to avoid getting cold later; I didn't want to lose the state I was in, but wanted to prolong it as much as possible. As soon as I accepted this thought, I collapsed to the floor. I remained on the floor for half an hour, before I could get up and go into the cell to lie down. Before that, while I was in prayer, I felt like a feather, very light, with a delight that cannot be expressed. But as soon as I accepted that human thought, I collapsed. If I had then a proud thought and said, for example, "I doubt if there are more than two or three people who are in the spiritual state I am in now," surely I would have suffered serious harm. My thought was a human one, just like that of a lame man who thinks to take his crutches; it was not a demonic thought. It was only a thought of natural reasoning, and you saw what happened to me.
    The only thing man has is his will, and God helps him according to this will. This is why I say that all the good things we may have are gifts from God. Our works are zero, and our virtues are a long series of zeros. We must try to constantly add zeros and beseech Christ to put a digit at the beginning so that we may become rich. If Christ doesn't put the digit at the beginning, our efforts will be in vain.

Chamberas P. (2008), Spiritual Counsels II: Spiritual Awakening by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Monastery of St John the Theologian, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.