Our endeavor should be to take heed at our mind, heart and mouth

If we can`t practice a physical ascesis because we are weak we should at least practice a mental and verbal ascesis. Our mind should not have any sly thoughts and our tongue should not utter any sinful words in order to find our salvation. We should tame our tongue not to utter any shameful things only what is useful and beneficial. We should not say anything which might harm us or our neighbor.

`From your mouth should not come out any rotten word`[2].

We should also guard our heart for not being possessed by any irrational passion and for not being reached by any sinful thought. When our heart is not soiled our body is not sick either. All the good and the bad ones come out from our heart, all the holiness and the impurity.

Vigilance is the one which gives the man spiritual sight and he sees and searches everything and he doesn`t allow any bad thought to reach the depths. If someone sees that he is possessed by irrational passions this comes from God`s enlightenment and will help at his improvement. Because if he doesn`t see that and is not beware, he won`t be saved. Therefore when someone sees well, when he has healthy eyes, this is the very first thing needed to make the right steps.

We are alone, everyone of us is in his cell, deepened in his own self. The devil cheats us that there is nobody near us and in this way we do wrong against the Law of God, committing certain mistakes. The sin is completely alive within us. The passions are rooted in our hearts. Our imagination works without cease. An image brings another and a passion brings another one. And if we are not careful and we don`t meditate that God knows what we think, what we imagine, then we will incline towards sin. It is not that serious if someone commits physical sins but I`d rather say that we sin more spiritually because we imagine that nobody sees us. Within ourselves if we don`t take heed, it`s created a true hell. The sleepless eye of God sees everything and He behaves with us accordingly. That`s why we should say at any thing: `Does God want this? No? Then I shouldn`t do it.`

Many times we are deluded by a passion – and I am the first one in this situation – and we surrender. But afterwards we have the rebuke of our conscience. At least this rebuke should help us repent and give us the power to correct our mistakes. If we can`t fulfill the first will of God that one of not sinning at all, we should at least fulfill the second one, the will of God from His oikonomia, to repent and return to Him.

The first will of God was that Adam shouldn`t have sinned in heaven. But as long as he had sinned the second step was to repent and return. When we arrange all these well in our soul our life will surely be a more careful one.

Therefore our endeavor should be to take heed at our mind, heart and mouth because when these are clean, our physical deeds are clean too.

The Holy Fathers reached great achievements in all their ascetical strives. But we should at least try to keep these three pure, chasing away the sly imaginings brought by passions and demons and to hope with the grace of God to find mercy in the Day of Judgment.

We have so many bright weapons from Christ. We have especially the prayer which is our most powerful weapon. When the monk has vigilance and prayer permanently with the grace of God, he passes through difficulties easily. Vigilance guides him to take heed here or there, here is a demon, there a trap, a pit, so he is careful. And when he comes in conflict with the demon, he takes the weapon of prayer and in this way it is open a free path in front of him.

But when there is no vigilance we fall like the blind over the enemy, in the trap, in the pit. When someone doesn`t have vigilance, he has no prayer either. I think that when these two exist, one helps the other.

Many times we must meditate, we must focus on ourselves and control ourselves. `Am I going right? Am I not dominated by any passions? Is my heart freed of passions or is it enslaved by them? And if this thing helps me and I see myself defeated I should try my best to correct myself. Assiduity is a step towards freedom. Each monk must find his mental peace and he should not receive any sinful feelings. He should have the remembrance of death and of the answer at Judgment. `What will Christ say about my deed? How will I justify it before Him?`

Vigilance on the path of this life will help us find ourselves in the moment of our death, which is the most difficult moment of the human life, in a satisfactory condition, with a peaceful conscience. This will be our comforting angel in that grief and sorrow of death because that moment is difficult for all of us. `Alas, how frightened is the soul when it separates from the body! Alas, what a struggle the soul has when it separates from the body! Alas, how much it cries then and there is nobody to help him!` He raises his eyes to the angels, he looks at the people, but nobody can help him. Nobody can help him in that moment only his good deeds and a clear conscience. No angels can help him, since they look for good deeds to present them as a credit to help the soul which gets out of the body

When the angels were taking the soul of Theodora to heaven they felt burdened. And if saint Basil, her spiritual father, had not helped her with his intercessions, she would not have passed through the customs.

The angels said that themselves: `If we hadn`t have the help of saint Basil, we wouldn`t have been able to face the demons.`

Let us meditate all the time about the moment of death. We lie down to sleep. We should fall asleep with the remembrance of death, because sleep is a foreshadowing of death.

And as we fall in our bed we will fall in our coffin. And when we wake and get up to work, we should have again the remembrance of death. We should think about death all the time and thus our life will surely be full of vigilance. `Remember your last moments and you won`t ever sin.`

It`s very useful for someone to be near a dying person. Because in that moment he thinks that he can`t avoid that either and that he will be in the same state. Many times death is very painful and difficult.

Abba Agathon was asked:

`Abba, don`t you put your trust in your deeds that you will be saved?`

`No` he said.

`But why, abba, since your deeds are so many and so praiseworthy? If you are not saved then who will be?`

`I tried my very best with my human powers to please God but I don`t know if my deeds pleased Him. When I go there and I hear from His mouth that my deeds are good and salvatory, then I will believe this.

Great Anthony when he felt that the time had come to leave this world, cried and told his spiritual sons as an advice: `Remember death because this remembrance had never let me neglect my duties.`

Saint Irina of Chrisolovant cried too before her death. I can say that a few saint men passed through death joyful or without pain because death in its essence means pain.

And if the saints received and encountered death with such a fear, what about us, the sinners – and I am the first one with so many responsibilities, with such burdens I wear, what am I going to do in that moment?`

`I cry and I wail when I meditate about death.` But my brothers the only thing I believe is that first the grace of God and then a peaceful conscience will help us go over the trial of death.

If we take heed at our life, if we follow what our conscience tells us according to the Law we may receive enough help in that difficult moment. Let us not forget about our destination. Let us walk further with vigilance, with prayer and with the remembrance of death having the help of God and the invisible power of the guardian angel and of the saints. And let us hope that we will reach the end of the path without being caught by any demon.

We are sinful, we are helpless, we are people from the 8th age. And that is why God commiserates with us.

Let us ask in our prayer  all the time from God and from the Holy Mother of God to help us surpass all the traps and defeat the devil and reach victoriously our great destination where we will be rewarded. Amen.

Prayer

My sweetest Jesus, You sacrificed Yourself for us the sinners, You shed Your most Holy Blood, You washed our wounds and You whitened the robe of our souls with Your death!

Kill our passions! Kill the devil who follows us day and night without cease!

Most holy Son of God send us Your help from heaven and from Your throne of Glory where You rest after your victory against the devil.

We confess the Grace, we confess salvation. We believe firmly in Your holiness. We confess before any visible and invisible creature that You are the Son and the Word of God, the Incarnated One for our salvation. The Only Holy One Who rests among the holy. You are the God of Love. Our poor mind cannot comprehend Your boundless Mind. As a great general You smashed Amalec who belonged to a foreign people and You freed us as if we were a gazelle caught in a trap. We confess Your toil, Your pains, Your sweat, Your Cross which You endured for us all!

Jesus, Son and Word of the Alive God, Good Shepherd You led Your sheep to the stable of salvation. Receive our poor words, our small prayer, our humble confession and receive these as an incense brought before You!

Continue God with Your endless leniency and mercy the completion of Your beautiful work, the wondrous and salvatory one.

We thank You from our soul and please receive our poor thankfulness as the two coins of the poor widow who gave everything she had. And we offer everything we have. What can You take from the poor and the wretched one?

We thank You, Lord and please make us worthy when You will receive our souls when we will come to You at Your call on that shown day when the souls of the righteous will shine being enlightened by the always shining and endless light of Your Holy Face to worship You with adoration from the bottom of our soul! Receive the prayers of Your Most Holy Mother and of all Your saints! Amen.

Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation published byEvanghelismos.