Saturday, April 2, 2016

Will you not endure
everything for My love?.

   There is nothing else that can help appease anger and all the passions as much as love for God and for every fellow man. It is with love rather than with other struggles that you can win easily. In addition, when love reigns in your nous you feel no pain while struggling. For this reason, "Love never faileth" (1 Cor 13: 8)!. As long as you constantly steer the soul's rudder towards it. And no matter what happens, you shout your maxim: "For the sake of Thy love, Jesus, my sweet love, I will endure curses, disgraces, injustices, toils, and all afflictions that I might encounter!", and at once, while you are pondering these words, the burden of pain is lightened, and the demons' bitterness ceases.
   Let me tell you a true story. Once, because of my continual and frightful temptations, I was overcome with sadness and faintheartedness, and I presented my case to God as if I had been treated unjustly. I was complaining because He kept allowing so many temptations to befall me without curbing them even a little, that I couldn't even catch my breath. In this time of bitterness, I heard a very sweet and clear voice within me say with extreme compassion, "Will you not endure everything for My love?". As soon as I heard that voice, I broke out into many tears and repented for being overcome with faintheartedness. I shall never forget that voice, which was so sweet that the temptation and all my faintheartedness immediately disappeared.
   "Will you not endure everything for My love?".
   "O truly sweet Love! For Thy love, we are crucified and endure everything!".
   That same brother told me that once he was upset with another brother. He would give him advice, but the latter kept disobeying, and this saddened him greatly. Then while he was praying, he fell into ecstasy. He saw the Lord nailed to the Cross all bathed in light. Then Christ turned towards him and said, "Behold how much I have suffered for your love! What have you endured?". And with these words his sadness vanished. He was filled with peace and joy, and shedding fountains of tears he marveled and continues to marvel at the condescension of the Lord, Who permits afflictions but also consoles us when He sees us losing heart.
   So don't lose heart. Don't worry during times of affliction and temptation, but with the love of our Jesus, alleviate the anger and faintheartedness. Furthermore, give yourself courage, saying, "My soul, don't lose heart! A small affliction can cleanse you from a chronic illness." The truth is that it will soon go away anyway.
   When we lack patience, our temptations seem greater than they really are. The more a person grows accustomed to enduring them, the smaller they become, and he passes through them effortlessly. Thus he becomes as solid as a rock.
   So be patient!. After many years have passed, what seems difficult to achieve now will fall into your hands for you to possess as your own, without your realizing how it happened.
   Therefore, struggle now during your youth without asking "why" and losing heart. And when you grow old you will reap sheaves of dispassion. Then you will wonder how such beautiful crops grew, since you did not cultivate anything!. You will be astonished how you got rich - you who are worth nothing!. You will be amazed at how your grumbling, disobedience, and faintheartedness sprouted such beautiful fruits and fragrant-flowers!. Therefore, exert yourself.
   If a righteous person falls even thousand times, he does not lose his courage, but he rises up once more and gathers his strength, and the Lord registers victories for him. However, He does not show him his victories, so that he will not think highly of himself. Rather, He makes him fully aware of his falls, so that he sees them, suffers, and is hum­bled. But once he has passed the barracks of the enemy and has amassed unseen victories everywhere, the Lord begins to show him little by little that he is winning and is being rewarded; that his hands are touching something that he was previously seeking but had not been given. And in this manner one is exercised, tried, and perfected, as much as our nature, nous, intellect, and soul's vessel can hold.
   Therefore, be brave and strong in the Lord, and don't let your eagerness flag. Rather, keep seeking and crying out constantly, regardless of whether you receive anything or not.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Monastic Wisdoms the Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast (1998) - 8th letter, Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence, Arizona, U.S.A.