May 8th is the feast of St Arsenios the Great
Glorious Arsenius, whom the world glorified,
Fleeing from glory, to himself he said:
“To men and to the world, consider yourself dead.
Neither wise nor foolish words, do not speak.
For a word, at times, I have repented;
For silence I have never repented.
If my heart, to God I do not bind,
To shake off the passionate life, I am not able.
If my thoughts glorify God only,
External passions will leave me.
Your time, fill with prayer and labor;
Sleep even less and labor all the more.
Arsenius the sinful, why do you stop?
Why to the wilderness did you come, I ask?
Not for the sake of idleness, but for the salvation of the soul;
Not for the sake of sleep, but for the sake of repentance.
Heal yourself quickly, and enliven the soul:
Lord have mercy! Forgive and have mercy!”
* * * * * * *
A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he felt neither the power of the words he read nor gentleness in his heart.
To that the great saint replied to him: “My child, just read! I heard that when snake-charmers cast a spell upon the serpents, these sorcerers utter words which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents, hearing the words spoken, sense their power and become tamed.
An so it is with us, when the words of Holy Scripture are continually on our lips, although we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit.”
My child, just read! The Holy Spirit, Who, through inspired men, wrote these divine words, will hear, will understand and will hasten to your assistance.
Likewise, the demons will hear and understand, and will flee from you.
That is: He to Whom you are calling for help will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.
Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, May 8th.