Only today I received your letter, my daughter, after a long time. In this period I was a bit upset because you haven`t been quite well lately and I somehow rebuked you. For this I had sadness and pain in my poor heart.
Finally today I was a little bit glad finding out that you recovered a little and started to repair your boat, to float towards the peaceful waveless shore of passionlessness.
The struggle against the irrational passions is difficult indeed, but by the Grace of God everything is overcome as with His help everything is impossible becomes possible. My daughter we all pass through these changes but it is needed patience and perseverance in the ascetic struggle.
All these anomalies, the trouble, hate, despise, the wild movements of the passions belong all to Satan. And all of them must be despised with disgust, with pain and grief. And this immediately from the start before they enter and occupy the pastures, cut the waters from outside and kill the soul by the deprivation of the celestial comfort.
You see? When there is a consent in what regards the thoughts the cunning one sows, then you lose your courage in prayer. You see they cut the waters from outside, the nourishment of your soul and you will die of hunger in a few days. While from the start with a bit of resistance, you can reject them. But you are reckless and get dropped paying attention to what they tell you. When they enter, they drag us as if we were slaves.
Take heed and don`t believe they left. They are drawn away by your superiors but they come back again. The grace draws them away so that the soul may get strengthened but they come back again. In time of peace don`t be reckless, but pray, straighten out what you ruined and prepare yourself for war. Encourage yourself alone. Be patient. Show perfect obedience. In this way you will be able to get free one day, but with a great struggle and heed.
For every step the monk makes ahead he must shed many tears, drops of blood and a lot of time. But the devil, the old malice comes and brings him an obstacle which if the grace and the prayers of the others don`t protect him beforehand overturns everything for him. And then again he has to make the start from the very beginning. And then there is again bloodshed.
That is why patience is needed. Do not be idle. Do not get weak in your soul. Be patient to be covered by grace. You have many who sustain you. Every one of your steps towards merriment brings me merriment. Your own resurrection revives my soul as well.
From my own experience and my own torments I know well the temptations of the abbess that she suffers a lot because she bears the burdens of all of you and the responsibility which she has before God. She tastes a lot of bitterness and pain everyday. She rejoices only when you go on the right path.
Now you see the grace has come again. Beware that it will leave again. If it leaves it is needed bravery, patience, perfect obedience and it will come again. I told you that on Nativity it will come. It came but it didn`t stay because it didn`t find you with zeal. Now it came again but it will leave again so that you may be cleared of passions. This will happen until you will be as God wants, to find a place and a way to keep His Grace within you.
Therefore keep on your ascetic struggle. Do not get idle and do not less time pass away, because the time you waste for nothing everyday you won`t find it anymore. And you will answer for all the days, hours and moments of your life. The man must not only run but also measure the distances of the way. He should not remain behind and idle.
Beside this learn this thing as well : vigilance and contemplation. You gain more with the love for Christ and the Holy Mother of God than with any ascetic struggle. All the others are good when they are made well but love overcomes everything. Especially when you embrace the icon as if it were an alive being and with hot tears you kiss it crying:
`My most holy mother help me cause I am loosing myself if you leave me ! My God, have mercy on me for the sake of your most Pure Mother and for all your saints!
And when you say these you feel much love and you want to kiss the icon without cease. This is a sign it answers at your kissing. I can`t kiss the icon of the Holy Mother of God only once and leave. When I get near it attracts me like a magnet.
I must be alone because I want to kiss it for hours and hours. Something like a vivid breath fills my soul I get filled of grace and it doesn`t let me leave. Love, love for God, a burning fire, so immediately after you get in the church go ahead – if it is a miracle making icon – and it gives you such grace that you remain for long hours in ecstasy without being into your senses, but in God`s heaven. So much grace gives the Holy Mother of God to those who keep their body clean because as I understood, she loves purity.
For this reason I struggled with my body more than with any other passion. And it was given to me purity as a gift so I can`t make any difference anymore between man and woman. The passion doesn`t manifest at all. By the blessing of God I received the grace of purity.
I write all these to you, my daughter and to your sisters to endeavour and do the same. Otherwise there wouldn`t have been any other reason to reveal to you my spiritual state, by no means to receive praises from you
But as I keep you in my soul as a true brother of yours in Christ I want to help you according to my power. Everyone should try. If you force yourself you will see how much the Holy Mother of God loves us.
One evening kissing her icon I got tired. Sitting in the pew I fell asleep. Then the Holy Mother of God came in person, not in her icon and kissed me. And she filled me of an inexpressible fragrance and joy. And that divine child comforted my face while I was kissing his plumpy hand as if He were alive. And you wouldn`t believe it was a sleep but the feeling of another life, unknown and untasted by those who didn`t experience these things.
Excerpt from Testimonies of the monachal experience– Pious Joseph the Hesychast, Evanghelismos.