The laymen say: Happy are those who live in palaces and have all comforts. But happy are those who could simplify their life and get free from the chains of this worldly progress, of the too many facilities that are rather difficulties and who escaped from the terrible stress of our times. If the man does not simplify his life he torments himself while if he simplifies it he won’t have this stress.
Once in Sinai a German said to a Bedouin child who was very smart: `You are smart, you can learn in school.` `And after that?` the child asked him. `Then you will open a car service.“And after that?` `After that you will expand it.“And after that? `After that you hire some others to work for you and you will have more workers.`
Meaning that he would have got a headache then he would have given that headache to someone else and then to some more. But isn’t it better when I have no headache? The greatest headache comes from thoughts like these: `Let’s do this, let’s do the other one.` If the thought had been spiritual the one who had had them would have felt spiritual relief not headache.
Even at laymen I insist on simplicity because many of the things that are done are not absolutely necessary and they are affected by stress. I speak to them about temperance and struggle. I cry all the time: `Simplify your life and the stress will disappear. Most of the divorces begin from here. The people have many chores to do and they get dizzy. Both the mother and the father work and they leave their children unattended. Painstaking, nerves, small problems cause big scandals then there comes a divorce without a reason. There they go. If they had simplified their life a little they would feel tranquil and happy. This stress is a disaster.
Once I was in a very luxurious home. Talking with its owners they said:
`We live in heaven while others live in poverty.`
`You live in hell` I told them. `You, fool, tonight your soul will be taken` the Lord said to the rich man.
If Christ asked me: `Where do you want to live, in a jail or in a house like this, I would answer: `in a dark jail, because the jail would help me. It would remind me of Christ, of the holy martyrs, of the hermits who lived in the cracks of the earth, it would remind me of monasticism.
The jail would look a bit like my cell and I’d be glad about that. But what would your house remind me or how would it help me? That’s why the jails give me more comfort than a worldly parlour or a beautiful cell of a monk. I’d rather live in a jail than in a house like this.
Once being hosted in the house of a friend from Athens the host ase me to receive a Christian before daybreak because that man could not come at another hour.
That man came rejoicingly and praising God without cease. He was very humble and simple and he asked me to pray for his family. This man was about 38 yo and had 7 children. His parents stayed with hi family. They were eleven persons overall and they lived in a single room. He told me with his whole simplicity: `The room has enough space for us only when we stand but when we have to go to sleep it is overcrowded because it is a bit narrow. But glory to God I made a kitchen and I solved everything. Father, we have a roof over our heads while others live in the open air. He worked as a whetter. He lived in Athens and left before daybreak to arrive in time in Pireus where he worked. Because he stood up for so long and walked such a long way he had varicose veins and this hurt him but his love for his family made him forget the pains and suffering.
He humbled himself saying that he had no love because he didn’t do any good deeds as a good Christian and he praised his wife for doing such deeds because beside the children and his parents she took the laundry of the old neighbours and washed them, she tidied up their houses and cooked them some broth. On the face of this Christian was reflected the divine grace.
He had Christ inside himself and he was full of joy and his room was full of heavenly joy. While those who don’t have Christ inside themselves are full of anxiety. Even if there are only two persons like these they don’t have enough space not even in eleven rooms while those men who had Christ inside themselves had enough space in a single room.
You see that even some spiritual men do not find enough space for themselves no matter how much room they had because Christ did not enter completely inside them. If the women from Farasa had seen the luxury from nowadays found even in monasteries would have said: `God will burn us with fire, God will leave us.` Those women did their chores slowly. In the morning they had to take out the goats for grazing then they had to clean the houses. Afterwards they went to the churches from the neighbourhood or gathered in caves where one of them who knew the letters read the life of the saint from that day. Then they made bows and said the Jesus prayer. They toiled and toiled. The woman had to know how to sew all the clothes from the house. They sew them by hand. The sewing machines were very few and those only in towns, not in villages. In Farasa there was only one sewing machine. They sewed the clothes of their husbands that were more comfortable than those from today and they knitted their socks. They had taste, zeal and they still had some time left because they did everything simply.
The women from Farasa didn’t look at details. They lived the joy of monasticism. And if the blanket was not well stretched and you had told her straighten the blanket she would have answered: `does this impede you in your prayers?`
The people of nowadays don’t know this joy of monasticism. They think you should not live in poverty for not suffering. If the men had a more monastic way of thinking, if they lived in a simpler way they would be more peaceful. Now they torment themselves because they have in their souls anxiety and despair. `Someone succeeded in life because he built two blocks of flats for himself or learnt five foreign languages. And I have no flat of my own and don’t know any foreign language. Oh, I’m lost!` One has a car and he begins: `Someone else has a better car. I should buy one too.` He takes a better one but he is still not satisfied with that because there is another one who has a much better one. So he buys the much better one and afterwards he finds that some people have personal planes and he torments himself again. They never cease with that while one who has no car praises God and rejoices. `Glory to God` he says,`it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a car, I have two good feet instead and I can walk. How many people are there without legs who cannot walk but they need someone to serve them while I have my own!` Even a lame one is glad when he says: `There are others who don’t have any leg.` Discontent and insatiability are a great evil. The one who is fond of material goods is always controlled by sadness and anxiety because on one hand he is afraid not to lose those material things and on the other not to lose his soul.
One day a rich man from Athens came to me and said: `Father, I lost the connection with my sons. I lost my sons.` `How many children do you have?`I asked him. `Two` he answered. `I raised them with boules de neige. They had everything they wanted. I bought them even cars. From the discussion it came out that he had his own car, his wife her own and their sons their owns.
`Blessed man, you instead of reducing your problems, increased them. Now you need a large garage for these cars, a mechanic to pay him four times more to fix them and you put your life in danger all of you while if you had simplified your life your family would have been united, you would have understood each other and you wouldn’t have faced such problems. Your sons are not guilty, you are the guilty one because you didn’t care to give them another education.
A family, four cars, a garage, a mechanic, etc. What happens if one goes later? All these facilities cause difficulties.
Another time another family man came to my hut – there were five members in his family – and he said : `Father, we have a car and I intend to buy two more. They will be useful for us`
But have you thought how many problems they will cause? I asked him. You put one in a small place but where to put three? You will need a large garage and a storeroom for fuel. You will be three times in danger. It is better to have only one and limit your drives. Then you will have enough time to take care of your children. And you’ll have peace. Simplicity is everything.
`I didn’t think about that` he said.
`Father, someone said that two times he couldn’t stop the car alarm once because there was a fly and afterwards because he got in the car in a wrong way.`
Their life is real martyrdom because they don’t simplify their life. Most of the facilities cause difficulties. The laymen are drowned in a multitude of things. They got facilities over facilities and they made their life difficult. If the man doesn’t simplify his life then any new facility may case him a new series of difficulties.
When we were small we made from a reel a wonderful plaything and we were happy about it. The children are much happier with a toy car than any of their parents when they buy a Mercedes. If you as a girl: `what do you want, a doll or a block of flats?` you’ll see she is going to answer `a doll`. Thus the children know the vanity of this world.`
`Father what helps someone more in knowing this joy of temperance?`
`To seize the deep meaning of life. Seek first the kingdom of God. From there comes simplicity and any right approach of the matters.`