Silouan the Athonite: The sweetness of the Holy Spirit regenerates the entire man Thursday, Jul 30 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteThis is true freedom – to be in God.

And I did not know this before.

Until I was seven and twenty I simply believed that God was, but I did not know Him;

but when my soul knew Him by the Holy Spirit I was consumed with longing for Him, and now day and night I seek Him with burning heart.

The Lord wants us to love one another: in this – in love towards God and our fellow-man – lies freedom.

In this lie both freedom and equality.  With society as it is graduated on this earth, there can be no equality; but that is of no importance to the soul.

Not everyone can be an emperor or a prince; not everyone can be a patriarch or an abbot, or a leader; but in every walk of life we can love God and be pleasing to Him, and only this is important.

And the man who loves God most in this world will have the most glory in the Kingdom.

He who loves most will the most strongly yearn and reach for God, and be closest to Him.

Each will be glorified according to the measure of his life. And I have discovered that love varies in strength.

When a man fears God lest he grieve Him in some way – that is the first degree of love.

He who keeps his mind pure of intrusive thoughts knows the second degree of love, which is greater than the first.

The third and still greater kind of love is when a man is sensible of grace in his soul.

The fourth and perfect kind of love for God exists when a man possesses the grace of the Holy Spirit both in soul and body.

The body is then hallowed, and after death the earthly remains become relics.  This is what happened in the case of the holy Martyrs and Prophets and venerable Fathers.

[…] The sweetness of the Holy Spirit regenerates the entire man and teaches him to love God to the utmost.

In the fulness of her love for God, the soul has no contact with the world; though a man live on earth among other men, in his love for God he forgets everything that is of this world.

But our trouble is that through the pride of our mind we do not continue in this grace, and so grace forsakes us, and the soul seeks it, weeping and sobbing and saying, “My soul longs for the Lord.’

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

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Silouan the Athonite: The Lord does not desire the death of a sinner, and on him who repents He bestows the grace of the Holy Spirit Wednesday, Jul 1 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteO all ye peoples of the earth, I fall on my knees to you, beseeching you with tears to come to Christ.

I know His love for you.  I know and therefore I cry to the whole world.

If one does not know a thing, how could one speak of it?

‘But how may I know God?’ you will ask.

And I say that we have seen the Lord by the Holy Spirit.

If you humble yourself, the Holy Spirit will show our Lord to you too; and you too will want to proclaim Him to all the world.

I am an old man awaiting death. I write the truth for love of God’s people over whom my soul grieves.

If I should help but a single soul to salvation, I will give thanks to God;

but my heart aches for the whole world, and I pray and shed tears for the whole world, that all may repent and know God and live in love, and delight in freedom in God.

O all ye peoples of the earth, pray and weep for your sins, that the Lord may forgive them.

Where there is forgiveness of sins there is freedom of conscience and love, even if but a little.

The Lord does not desire the death of a sinner, and on him who repents He bestows the grace of the Holy Spirit, which gives peace to the soul and freedom for the mind and heart to dwell in God.

When the Holy Spirit forgives us our sins we receive freedom to pray to God with an undistracted mind, and we can freely think on God and live serene and joyous in Him.

And this is true freedom. But without God there can be no freedom, for the enemy agitates the soul with evil thoughts.

O my brethren the world over, repent while there is still time. God mercifully awaits our repentance.

And all heaven and all the Saints look for our repentance.  As God is love, so the Holy Spirit in the Saints is love.

Ask, and the Lord will forgive. And when you receive forgiveness of sins there will be joy and gladness in your souls, and the grace of the Holy Spirit will enter into your souls, and you will cry:

‘This is true freedom. True freedom is in God and of God.’

The grace of God does not take away freedom, but merely helps man to fulfil God’s commandments.

Adam knew grace but he could still exercise his will. Thus too the angels abide in the Holy Spirit and yet are not deprived of free will.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

Silouan the Athonite: The man in whom the Holy Spirit lives feels that he has paradise within him Tuesday, Jun 16 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteWhen the Mother of God stood at the foot of the Cross, the depth of her grief was inconceivable, for she loved her Son more than any one can realize.

And we know that the greater the love the greater the suffering.

By the laws of human nature, the Mother of God could not possibly have borne her affliction;

but she had submitted herself to the will of God, and the Holy Spirit sustained her and gave her the strength to bear this affliction.

And later, after the Ascension of the Lord, she became a great comfort to all God’s people in their distress.

The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit, and the man in whom the Holy Spirit lives feels that he has paradise within him.

Perhaps you will say, ‘Why is it I have not grace like that?’  It is because you have not surrendered yourself to the will of God but live in your own way.

Look at the man who likes to have his own way.  His soul is never at peace and he is always discontented: this is not right and that is not as it should be.

But the man who is entirely given over to the will of God can pray with a pure mind, his soul loves the Lord, and he finds everything pleasant and agreeable.

Thus did the Most Holy Virgin submit herself to God: ‘Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.’

And were we to say likewise — ‘Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word’ — then the Lord’s words written in the Gospels by the Holy Spirit would live in our souls, and the whole world would be filled with the love of God, and how beautiful would life be on earth!

And although the words of God have been heard the length and breadth of the universe for so many centuries, people do not understand and will not accept them.

But the man who lives according to the will of God will be glorified in heaven and on earth.

We all suffer here on earth and seek freedom, but few there are who know the meaning of freedom and where it is to be found.

I too want freedom and seek it day and night.  I learnt that freedom is with God and is given of God to humble hearts who have repented and sacrificed their wills before Him.

To those who repent the Lord gives His peace and freedom to love Him.  There is nothing better in the world than to love God and one’s fellow man.  In this does the soul find rest and joy.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

Silouan the Athonite: The Lord enlightens every soul that has surrendered to the will of God Wednesday, May 27 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteNothing troubles the man who is given over to the will of God, be it illness, poverty or persecution.

He knows that the Lord in His mercy is solicitous for us. The Holy Spirit, whom the soul knows, is witness therefore.

But the proud and the self-willed do not want to surrender to God’s will because they like their own way, and that is harmful for the soul.

Abba Pimen said: ‘Our own will is like a wall of brass between us and God, preventing us from coming near to Him or contemplating His mercy.’

We must always pray the Lord for peace of soul that we may the more easily fulfil the Lord’s commandments; for the Lord loves those who strive to do His will, and thus they attain profound peace in God.

He who does the Lord’s will is content with all things, though he be poor or sick and suffering, because the grace of God gladdens his heart.

But the man who is discontent with his lot and murmurs against his fate, or against those who cause him offence, should realize that his spirit is in a state of pride, which has taken from him his sense of gratitude towards God.

But if it be so with you, do not lose heart but try to trust firmly in the Lord and ask Him for a humble spirit; and, when the lowly spirit of God comes to you, you will then love Him and be at rest in spite of all tribulations.

The soul that has acquired humility is always mindful of God, and thinks to herself: ‘God has created me. He suffered for me. He forgives me my sins and comforts me. He feeds me and cares for me. Why then should I take thought for myself, and what is there to fear, even if death threaten me?’

The Lord enlightens every soul that has surrendered to the will of God, for He said: Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great, men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God.

But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God’s will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

Silouan the Athonite: The Lord loves us much, quickening all things by his Grace Monday, May 4 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteIt is a great good to give oneself up to the will of God.  Then the Lord alone is in the soul.

No other thought can enter in, and the soul feels God’s love, even though the body be suffering.

When the soul is entirely given over to the will of God, the Lord Himself takes her in hand and the soul learns directly from God.

Whereas, before, she turned to teachers and to the Scriptures for instruction.

But it rarely happens that the soul’s teacher is the Lord Himself through the grace of the Holy Spirit, and few there are that know of this, save only those who live according to God’s will.

[…] O God of Mercy, Thou knowest our infirmity. I beseech Thee, grant me a humble spirit, for in Thy mercy Thou dost enable the humble soul to live according to Thy will.

[…] How are you to know if you are living according to the will of God?

Here is a sign:  if you are distressed over anything it means that you have not fully surrendered to God’s will, although it may seem to you that you live according to His will.

He who lives according to God’s will has no cares.  If he has need of something, he offers himself and the thing he wants to God, and if he does not receive it, he remains as tranquil as if he had got what he wanted.

The soul that is given over to the will of God fears nothing….  Whatever may come, ‘Such is God’s pleasure,’ she says.

If she falls sick she thinks, ‘This means that I need sickness, or God would not have sent it.’  And in this wise is peace preserved in soul and body.

The man who takes thought for his own welfare is unable to give himself up to God’s will, that his soul may have peace in God.

But the humble soul is devoted to God’s will, and lives before Him in awe and love; in awe, lest she grieve God in any way; in love, because the soul has come to know how the Lord loves us.

The best thing of all is to surrender to God’s will and bear affliction, having confidence in God. The Lord, seeing our affliction, will never give us too much to bear.

If we seem to ourselves to be greatly afflicted, it means that we have not surrendered to the will of God.

The soul that is in all things devoted to the will of God rests quiet in Him, for she knows of experience and from the Holy Scriptures that the Lord loves us much and watches over our souls, quickening all things by His grace in peace and love.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

Silouan the Athonite: Lord will give you His Grace, and you will know Him through the Holy Spirit Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 

Silouan the AthoniteThe Lord is love; and He commanded us to love one another and to love our enemies.

And the Holy Spirit teaches us this love.

The soul that has not come to know the Holy Spirit does not understand how it is possible to love one’s enemies, and will not receive this commandment.

But in the Lord is pity for all men, and he who would be with the Lord must love his enemies.

How may we know whether the Lord loves us or no?

Here are tokens: If you battle firmly against sin the Lord loves you.

If you love your enemies you are even more beloved of God.

And if you lay down your life for others you are greatly beloved of the Lord, who Himself laid down His life for us.

The man who has known the Lord through the Holy Spirit becomes like unto the Lord, as St John the Divine said: ‘We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.’ And we shall behold his glory.

Many numbers of people, you say, are suffering every kind of adversity and from evil men.

But I entreat you: Humble yourself beneath the strong hand of God, and grace will be your teacher and you yourself will long to suffer for the sake of the love of the Lord.

That is what the Holy Spirit, whom we have come to know in the Church, will teach you.

But the man who cries out against evil men, who does not pray for them will never know the grace of God.

If you would know of the Lord’s love for us, hate sin and wrong thoughts, and day and night pray fervently.

The Lord will then give you His grace, and you will know Him through the Holy Spirit, and after death, when you enter into paradise, there too you will know the Lord through the Holy Spirit, as you knew Him on earth.

We do not need riches or learning in order to know the Lord: we must simply be obedient and sober, have a humble spirit and love our fellow-men.

The Lord will love a soul that does this, and of His own accord make Himself manifest to her and instruct her In love and humility, and give her all things necessary for her to find rest in God.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Sofronii (Archimandrite), trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) pp. 19-23 @ Kandylaki.

Silouan the Athonite: In the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering Wednesday, Jan 15 2014 

Silouan the AthoniteThe Father so loved us that He gave us His Son; but such was the will of the Son too, and He became incarnate and lived with us on earth.

And the holy Apostles and a multitude of people beheld the Lord in the flesh, but not all knew Him as the Lord;

yet it has been given to me, a poor sinner, through the Holy Spirit to know that Jesus Christ is God.

The Lord loves man and reveals Himself to man.

And when the soul beholds the Lord she humbly rejoices in the Master’s compassion, and from that hour her love for her Creator is greater than her any other love:

though she may see all things and love all men, yet will she love the Lord above all.

The soul suddenly sees the Lord and knows that it is He. Who shall describe this joy, this gladness?

The Lord is made known in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit pervades the entire man – soul, mind and body. After this wise is God known in heaven and on earth.

The Lord in His boundless mercy granted this grace to me, a sinner, that others might come to know God and turn to Him. I write out of the grace of God. Yea, this is truth. The Lord Himself is my Witness.

The Merciful Lord gave the Holy Spirit on earth, and by the Holy Spirit was the Holy Church established.

The Holy Spirit unfolded to us not only the things of the earth but those too which are of heaven.

The Prophets, the beloved of the Lord, rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, wherefore the words that they spake were mighty and pleasant, for every soul would hear the word of the Lord.

Filled with love the holy Apostles went into all the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength.

When St Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.’

In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering.

For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Sofronii (Archimandrite), trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) pp. 19-23 @ Kandylaki.

Elder Sophrony: Sacred tradition is the eternal and immutable dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church Tuesday, Nov 26 2013 

SophronyFor the Staretz [St Silouan] the life of the Church meant life in the Holy Spirit, and Sacred Tradition the unceasing action of the Holy Spirit in her.

Sacred Tradition, as the eternal and immutable dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church, lies at the very root of her being, and so encompasses her life that even the very Scriptures come to be but one of its forms.

Thus, were the Church to be deprived of Tradition she would cease to be what she is, for the ministry of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit ‘written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stones, but in the fleshly tables of the heart’.

Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books—what would happen?

Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps—the verbal form might be different—but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’.

They would be the expression of the one and only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance.

The Scriptures are not more profound, not more important than Holy Tradition but, as said above, they are one of its forms—the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of.

But removed from the stream of Sacred Tradition, the Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through any scientific research.

If the Apostle Paul had the ‘mind of Christ’, how much more does this apply to the whole body of the Church of which St Paul is one member!

And if the writings of St Paul and the other Apostles are Holy Scripture, then new Scriptures of the Church, written supposedly after the loss of the old books, would in their turn become Holy Scripture, for according to the Lord’s promise God, the Holy Trinity, will be in the Church even unto the end of the world.

Men go wrong when they set aside Sacred Tradition and go, as they think, to its source—to the Holy Scriptures. The Church has her origins, not in the Scriptures but in Sacred Tradition.

The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. She lived then by Tradition only—the Tradition St. Paul calls upon the faithful to hold.

Elder Sophrony (1896-1993; Orthodox): from St. Silouan the Athonite, by Archimandrite Sophrony @ Eclectic Orthodoxy.

Silouan the Athonite: With the Holy Spirit the saints glorify God, and with the Holy Spirit the Lord glorifies the saints Thursday, Nov 14 2013 

Silouan the Athonite“I love them who love Me, and I will glorify them who glorify Me,” says the Lord (cf. Prov. 8:17 & 1 Kg. 2:30).

God is glorified by His Saints, and, in turn, the Saints are glorified by God.

The glory that God gives to the Saints is so great, that if people were to see a saint as he truly is, they would fall to the ground on account of reverence and fear, because physical man cannot endure the glory of such a heavenly appearance.

Do not marvel at this. The Lord loved man, whom He created, to such an extent that He poured the Holy Spirit abundantly upon man, and through this Holy Spirit man became like unto God.

The Lord gave His grace to the Saints, and they loved Him and completely devoted themselves to Him, because the sweetness of God’s love surpasses the love for the world and its beauty.

And if things are so here on the earth, then in Heaven the saints are even more closely united with the Lord through love.

God is love, and the Holy Spirit is love for the saints. With the Holy Spirit the Lord becomes known. With the Holy Spirit, the Lord is magnified in the heavens.

With the Holy Spirit the Saints glorify God, and with the Holy Spirit the Lord glorifies the Saints—and this glory has no end.

To many people it seems as though the Saints are far away from us. In reality, they are far from those people who have distanced themselves from the Saints;

whereas, they are very close to the people who keep Christ’s commandments and who have the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In Heaven, everything lives and moves in the Holy Spirit. But even on the earth, we have the same Holy Spirit.

This Holy Spirit lives in our Church. The Holy Spirit unites everyone, and for this reason the Saints are close to us.

And when we pray to them, they hear our prayers through the Holy Spirit, and our souls sense and feel their intercessions for us.

The Saints live in another world where they behold, through the Holy Spirit, the divine glory and beauty of the Lord’s face.

Through this same Holy Spirit they also see our lives and our deeds. They are familiar with our sorrows, and they hear our fervent prayers.

While on the earth, they were taught the love of God by the Holy Spirit. And whoever has acquired love on the earth proceeds with it to the eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven, where this love increases until it becomes perfect.

And if on the earth love cannot forget about its fellow man, then even more so the Saints in Heaven do not forget about us, and they pray for us.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox) @ Discerning Thoughts and St Nektarios Monastery.

Silouan the Athonite: The love and grief of the Mother of God are boundless and beyond our understanding Friday, Mar 29 2013 

Silouan the AthoniteWhen the soul abides in the love of God – how good and gracious and festive all things are!

But even with God’s love sorrows continue, and the greater the love the greater the sorrow. Never by a single thought did the Mother of God sin, nor did she ever lose grace, yet vast were her sorrows.

When she stood at the foot of the Cross her grief was as boundless as the ocean and her soul knew torment incomparably worse than Adam’s when he was driven from Paradise, in that the measure of her love was beyond compare greater than the love which Adam felt when he was in Paradise.

That she remained alive was only because the Lord’s might sustained her, for it was His desire that she should behold His Resurrection, and live on after His Ascension to be the comfort and joy of the Apostles and the new Christian peoples.

We cannot attain to the full the love of the Mother of God, so we cannot thoroughly comprehend the grief. Her love was complete. She had an illimitable love for God and her Son, but she loved the people too with great love.

What, then, must she have felt when those same people whom she loved so dearly, and whose salvation she desired with all her being, crucified her beloved Son?

We cannot fathom such things, since there is little love in us for God and man.

Just as the love of the Mother of God is boundless and passes our understanding, so is her grief boundless and beyond our understanding.

O holy Virgin Mary, tell us, thy children, of thy love on earth for thy Son and God. Tell us how thy spirit rejoiced in God thy Savior.

Tell us of how thou didst look upon His fair countenance, and reflect that this was He whom all the heavenly hosts wait upon in awe and love.

Tell us what thy soul felt when thou didst bear the wondrous Babe in thine arms.

Tell us of how thou didst rear Him, how, sick at heart, thou and Joseph sought Him three long days in Jerusalem.

Tell us of thine agony when the Lord was delivered up to be crucified, and lay dying on the Cross.

Tell us what joy was thine over the Resurrection.

Tell us how thy soul languished after the Lord’s Ascension.

We long to know of thy life on earth with the Lord, but thou wast not minded to commit all these things to writing, and didst veil thy secret heart in silence.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan the Athonite, by Archimandrite Sophrony, pp. 390-391 @ Mystagogy.

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