johnkarpathosSometimes our soul grows despondent at the huge swarm of its sins and temptations, and says, ‘Our hope is gone and we are lost’ (Ezek. 37:11; LXX).

Yet God, who does not despair of our salvation, says to us: ‘You shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord’ (Ezek. 37:6).

To the soul that doubts how it can ever give birth to Christ through great acts of holiness, these words are said: ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon you’ (Luke 1:35).

Where the Holy Spirit is present, do not expect any more the sequence and laws of nature and habit.

The Holy Spirit whom we worship is all-powerful, and in an astonishing way He brings into existence what does not as yet exist within us.

The intellect (Greek: ὁ νοῦς)** [see footnote] that was previously defeated He now makes victorious: for the Paraclete who in compassion comes upon us from above ‘is higher than all’ (John 3:31), and He raises us above all natural impulses and demonic passions.

Struggle to preserve unimpaired the light that shines within your intellect.

If passion begins to dominate you when you look at things, this means that the Lord has left you in darkness; He has dropped the reins with which He was guiding you, and the light of your eyes is gone from you (cf. Ps. 38:10).

Yet even if this happens, do not despair or give up, but pray to God with the words of David: ‘O send out Thy light and Thy truth to me in my gloom, for Thou art the salvation of my countenance and my God’ (cf. Ps. 43:3, 5); ‘Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth’ (Ps. 104: 30; LXX).

Blessed is he who, with a hunger that is never satisfied, day and night throughout this present life makes prayer and the psalms his food and drink, and strengthens himself by reading of God’s glory in Scripture.

Such communion will lead the soul to ever-increasing joy in the age to come.

Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue the contest.

Even if you fall a thousand times because of the withdrawal of God’s grace, rise up again each time, and keep on doing so until the day of your death.

For it is written, ‘If a righteous man falls seven times’ – that is, repeatedly throughout his life – seven times ‘shall he rise again’ (Prov. 24: 16; LXX).

John of Karpathos (7th century): For the Encouragement of the Monks in India, 81-84, trans. G.E.H. Palmer, P. Sherrard, and K. Ware, The Philokalia, vol. 1 (Faber and Faber, London & Boston: 1979), @ J B Burnett.

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from John and by other Greek authors: INTELLECT (nous): the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or ‘simple cognition’ (the term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the ‘depths of the soul’; it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St Diadochos). The intellect is the organ of contemplation, the ‘eye of the heart’ (Macarian Homilies).

Advertisements