Saturday, September 23, 2017

When I read the book of Elder Silouan...
Elder Iliy on St. Silouan the Athonite .

Schema-Archimandrite Iliy (Nozdrin), spiritual father of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, ascetically struggled on Mt. Athos for more than ten years in one of the sketes of St. Panteleimon Monastery—the Old Russikon. Namely there, at the mill just a few decades earlier Venerable Silouan the Athonite carried out his obedience. In 1967 the book of his life and teachings became a spiritual guide for the now-revered elder, then novice Alexei of the Pskov Caves Monastery.     

   When I read the book of Elder Silouan it opened up a bright expanse for me where I found what I needed—answers to my various questions. Generally speaking, the book gave a clear and concise presentation of the content of our faith.
    Elder Silouan is a modern ascetic. In him there was no hypocrisy, no delusion. He wrote and spoke by the grace of God. That which the Lord revealed to him by the Holy Spirit he heard and repeated. He was a man without higher education, although he did have some schooling of course. His book became acclaimed. He didn’t write it himself, but rather wrote it from his words. It was translated into I don’t know how many languages, but more than ten for sure. Believers who turn to this book seeking truth— the Truth, find it. I can’t speak about this book with high enough praise and gratefulness to Elder Silouan.
    He, it can be said, was not such an ascetic, but he sought for union with Christ. He sought how to come to the Lord, to serve Him, to be a true monk. Most importantly—he sought prayer and fullness in true union with God. The Lord heeded his desire and Himself appeared to him. “If it had continued,” said Elder Silouan, “then I, probably would have melted. My soul would have dissolved at the glory of God’s love and grace, unable to bear, had it continued longer, this vision of Christ.”
    The Lord left such a trace of His grace, the power of grace, that until his death he prayed unceasingly. We must read this book. It is a revelation, how he himself expresses his experience! How he wept and prayed! When grace left him, he cried out: "Lord!" And the Lord again imbued him with the strength of grace. His prayer was unceasing, continuing even in sleep.     
“keep your mind in hell and despair not”

It’s simple: if a man prays then he won’t be full of despair. This is said on the basis of humility. There is worldly, secular pride, and also spiritual pride: when a man receives a special closeness to God, is strengthened in prayer, becomes acquainted with spiritual experience, undoubtedly the thought will appear to him that he is a man of very high spiritual life, conscious that he is, so to speak, already a saint. This is the danger for ascetics.
    Therefore the Lord doesn’t give many such a high degree of grace, of such inspiration by the power of God even to the point of wonderworking, that he won’t be able to preserve it due to his spiritual pride. When a person embraces pride it is incompatible with the presence of a high measure of grace from the Lord.
    The devil presented himself in full human stature before Elder Silouan. The devil is a spirit and can materialize only by the allowance of God. The ascetic was perplexed: why is he praying, while the devil stands before him, not disappearing?. The Lord revealed to him that it was because of his spiritual pride; in order to not have it, he must consider himself the smallest and most sinful, and for his sins an heir to hell.
    If the Lord gives us something we should acknowledge that all of our gifts, both earthly and spiritual, are from God. We have nothing to be proud of—neither material goods, nor intellectual achievements, nor any kind of merits—none of our earthly riches. If the Lord grants, it is of His mercy, neither of our talents, nor strength, nor labors—nothing of ours, but only the compassion of God. Therefore everything spiritual that Elder Silouan received through the Savior’s appearance—it’s all the grace of God.

A letter to Archimandrite Sophrony.

In a miraculously preserved letter sent to Essex (England) from Optina, Pascha 1992, addressed to Archimandrite Sophronius (Sakharov),Starets Ilia said:
    "... I must admit that since 1967, when I held the book "Elder Silouan”, I felt like I stepped a new step in my spiritual life, as if I gained a new vision!. Since that time, this book is a true friend of mine. In Athos I had to receive a lot of pilgrims, to show them the churches of the monastery,and the relics of saints. I can say that even before the glorification of elder Silouan, many revered him as a saint. I am very grateful for you, dear Father Sophrony, who have done a lot not only for the honor of  elder Silouan, but mainly committed to strengthen the faith and the salvation of many. From everyone who has read your book, I have heard only positive feedback. I say this frankly not just as a positive comment, but out of my great love for the book [...] ".

"Orthodox Spirituality",Olga Orlova, Schema-Archimandrite Iliy (Nozdrin),