From hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi:
- Do not forget that you must die
When I was 2 y.o I fell from the sleigh drawn by a horse and my father continued his ride without noticing. My father was a forester and the accident took place at the gate of the canton from Oricova. When the horse left I fell on my back in the snow, mingling with the snowy white sky. That was the first time when I discovered loneliness and death. I did not cry and did not shout. I remember I was dressed in a blue hooded jumpsuit. I went back in the house to my mother walking slowly to give time to my father to reach me.
- Do not forget that you must love
The worst thing that can happen to someone is not to be loved by anyone. But what’s even worse in my opinion is not to love. For me it has always been easy to love the people, to be glad of seeing them. That’s why I found no impediment in understanding the Gospel. Whenever I did something wrong my mother used to tell me : Go away from me, I don’t love you anymore. This was for me the extreme punishment and I felt it as if I was expelled from heaven. Saint Isaac the Syrian said that the fire of hell is nothing else than the love you lost being condemned to look at it for ever.
- Do not evaluate in money what God gave you as a gift
I understood this when I was a teenager. Being student at the College of Arts (Octav Bancila) from Iasi, my mother took me to Petersburg to see the Hermitage. There we stayed at a family of Abkhazians, a divorced woman with two children, but very resourceful. Her name was Izolda and she bought me my first guitar. May God keep her healthy! She had a grill and earned a great deal of money. I hadn’t seen so much money before. She sold skewered meat all night long till the morning because the nights were white. Sometimes I went with them because it was interesting. They were selling skewered meat and I was drawing in a folder I was keeping on my knees. While people were eating I had time to make their portraits. A bold and merry man approached me and exclaimed: But that’s me. It’s right me there! How much do you want to sell me that?
I give it to you for free, I said. I don’t sell it. But the man gave me one dollar and it was in 1991. Then he left. I got that banknote, I put it in a notebook and never use it.
- Do not believe anything bad
Whenever I believed anything bad about someone I had something to lose. I felt dirty, as if I was taking part at a work of uglifying men. I slandered people myself but time showed me every time that I was wrong. I prefer to be wrong keeping a good impression about someone who is bad instead of believing a bad word about a kind man. Anu bad thing is a lie. Evil according to saint Augustine doesn’t exist. Evil is a great absence, the absence of good and of love. That’s why believing what’s bad means to plunge into absence, into deceit.
- Do not believe you are lost
I am naturally inclined to despair, knowing all the evils deriving from this spiritual fall. But one day I got the saving thought. I said to myself that God knew anyway all my past, present and future falls but despite these He created me and God never creates anything for destruction. If we were born it means that God put all His trust in us. It is a great encouragement to think that God trusts you. When is desperate the man can do any evil, he is fighting against his own being, finding a sort of demonic pleasure in breaching his principles, committing a spiritual suicide. I think that any real spiritual confessor starts his counsels after the confession with the words: Do not despair.
- Do not consider yourself a saint
Saint Silouan the Ahtonite said : There are two thoughts you should not receive or believe, the first one that you shall never find the salvation of your soul and the second that you are a saint. Do not consider yourself better than others. The work you do by the gift of God may be better than that done by your neighbor but this doesn’t mean that you are better than him, only your work is better. God never takes back the gifts He gives but whoever prides himself on his works begins to darkens himself and use the gift foolishly and then he loses his dignity.
- Do not put yourself in the posture of guarantor
Whenever I put myself in this position of guarantor for somebody I was wrong and created problems. All my life I’ve been interfering and trying to save everyone. The drug addicts, the alchoholics, the women who were abused by their husbands and so on. But I have never saved anyone, had only troubles, money stolen, things lost, problems with the neighbours. I came to the conclusion that whenever you want to help someone, help him as much as you can, but without implying other people. This means to put yourself in the posture of guarantor, to guarantee for him that he is going to improve. That’s a big mistake. Once I read in the parables of Solomon this advice: Do not put yourself in the posture of guarantor. When we read the Scriptures we understand and memorize only what we experienced, we don’t even notice the other words.
- Do not take revenge twice
Revenge is a sin, but it is human. The Scriptures say that you shoul not punish the same mistake twice, principle that was included in the Roman Law. I may understand an action of revenge, though it is better not to take any revenge, but I estrange myself from the man who takes his revenge twice, meaning without end, for a single mistake. When I took my revenge once, it went the way it did, God forgave me, but when I did that twice everything fell on my head and I came to understand that I fought with myself.
- Do not seek to win at all costs
The people who seek to be winners at all costs ultimately lose everything. I prefer to be considered defeated sometimes only for keeping my chance to win in the end
Once a Romanian bishop praised someone: You see that man had the best results in school, only A credits all the time, isn’t that extraordinary? But I answered: I don’t trust the people who had only A credits. Why? I was asked by the amazed bishop. Because they don’t know how to lose and the man who doesn’t know how to lose betrays you for a vain victory.
- Do not laugh about anyone’s shame
When I was a child I heard the bigger boys laughing about someone who was caught in a shameful sin. Then whenever I met that man it came into my mind involuntagrily the sin he had committed. But I have never revealed that sin to anyone and treated that man as if I hadn’t known anything. Even now when he is dead I cannot say what I heard because I don’t want to reopen his old sores.
Source: Hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi , Carte de despărțire, Cathisma Publishing, Bucharest, 2013, p.71-75.
Article took from: altarulcredintei.md