About the quality of the spiritual thoughts and dispositions (III)

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The elders from the Holy Mountain say:
Salvation is not given by the place but by the way you live.

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An elder said :

We should rather be happy than sad when the people treat us badly, unjustly. We must not try to be believed by people even if we are right. Since God is right and we force ourselves only for the life to come, it has no meaning to try to make ourselves be understood by the others or treated well or be recognized for our value and not to be mistreated and so on. If we follow this path in life we will realize that the path we are crossing now doesn’t lead us to heaven.

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A simple and uneducated hermit told me :

Those who are too smart are quickly caught in Satan’s net because they are full of selfishness, my blessed father. They are like the crabs caught in fishing net.

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Some time ago I met a monk from a monastery who spoke in a very expressive way. He spoke about the fear of God, about piety and about human logic. I had never met in my life someone to express himself so vividly. His words were like a spring of sprinkling water. His speaking was accurate, pure, ardent and accompanied by wonderful spontaneous gestures. He said things like the following ones:

Who is full of respect has fear of God. Who has fear of God is humble. God protects the humble. Only the humble one has a logical thinking. The arrogant one cannot think logically. And who doesn’t take care of his soul becomes either brutal or a beast or filled of self deceit.

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What is monachism ?

`It’s  hard work.` answered an experienced monk.

`Indeed` answered a hermit from our days to a new follower of Christ. If you want to succeed in your monachal call I tell you only one thing, brother: To be sure that you love physical work.`

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The great hermit and confessor Hariton (I wrote a biography of this wonderful hermit from the Holy Mountain) every time he received a visitor thing which he did with great love and kindness, used to say:

`In that time Christ began to work and speak.`

The father avoided the useless talk and gossip considering them as causes of many diseases.

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A pious monk from the New Skete said :

On every Easter when we say `Christ is Resurrected` we remember the cry of the angel before the empty tomb of Christ. Those who leave the church right after they sing `Christ is resurrected` are not Christians. Only those who remain at the Holy Liturgy are Christians.

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Father Gregory from Xenophontos Monastery, a monk who is over 100 years old told us:

`When we were novices we asked our father confessor to read us a prayer in the church for our habit to prattle.

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He also said

A monk without a rule of obedience is not a real monk.

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The monks who live an idiorrhythmic life (in this kind of living every monk lives on his own, having his own rules of work, fasting and prayer and usually he is not under the guidance of any Elder; unlike this in the cenobitic monasticism the monks follow a common rule of living and are all guided by the same spiritual father ) cannot be corrected, used to say pious father Teophilos Lavriotis wanting to show us all the deficiencies of such monasteries.

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The wonderful monk Theophilactus of Kavsokalyvia said to a young novice :

`If you want to become a good monk, remember all your life this thing: Be thankful to God because you were deprived of all your personal belongings you could have expected. Use a wooden bed where to sleep and on Easter eat a sardine with some greens and a spoon of oil. A monk has no right in this life to be free. How many were destroyed by the devil because of the desire to have personal belongings!

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An elder said :

The more spiritualized a  person is the less belongings he wants in this life.

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I asked a father how many years he had stayed in the Holy Mountain and he said:

`I’ve been here for many years but I haven’t evolved at all. The jackals who live in the desert remain jackals forever.

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An old hermit said :

A man with fear of God respects everyone. My spiritual father bowed with respect even before the most insignificant and unworthy man.

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An elder said :

The men estranged themselves of their spiritual fathers and they lost themselves in all kinds of thoughts and irrational passions and they end by making confessions to a psychiatrist who gives them pastilles to make them forget about their problems. Shortly after that the same kind of problems reappear on surface and everything repeats itself. If a person takes care of his inner state he can sleep like a baby and has no need of pastilles or anything else.

Living in the desert doesn’t solve anything unless I annihilated all my irrational passions. Or in other words that place is not a desert when I adapt it according to myself instead of adapting myself to living in a desert place.

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An elder said :

God doesn’t predestine but He knows beforehand.

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An elder said:

`When you tell your opinion to the others do it in such a way that they may benefit of it. If gossip is what results from it, then do it only with God. Nobody tires when speaking to Him, because the prayer is restful. Many times we pray for someone who is sick. And others pray for him as well but despite it that person dies. Those who prayed for him wonder why God didn’t listen to their prayers. They don’t realize that God listened to their prayers but He knows what’s better. We don’t know which would have been the end of that person if he had lived. We must be thankful to God for everything.

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An old monk said :

For the monks the precipices become palaces and the sky above them is their roof. The earth is their mattress and the nuts and greens their food. The wild beasts are their neighbors and the caves become royal rooms.

`Father is it difficult to become a monk?` we asked a wise elder.

`It’s not difficult. When you have forgotten yourself completely then you realize this is the lightest burden to carry.

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An elder said :

If someone wants to get help he must have his ears wide open to be able to receive the signals from another person. When someone’s heart is not receptive then he should first pray to God to open it so that the word of God can be received.

Bring near these people who are estranged of God in a simple way with true humbleness and love. Pretend not to notice many of their flaws and correct what is absolutely necessary because the people are bored and burdened by life and they don’t like to be corrected by somebody else, no matter how well-meaning that one would be.

From the Athonite Patericon