Clerical Articles

The measure of divine love

  • November 29, 2016

Who loves little, offers little. Who loves much, offers much. And the one who loves without limits has nothing else to offer but himself. (Pious Porphyrios the Kavsokalivite)

An elder said:

Sometimes we say that we have love, but what kind of love is this? I mean, what kind of spiritual love is this, cause I don’t speak about worldly love. How can a man consider all the other people as being his brothers and sisters? Maybe some of these are atheists or Jehova’s witnesses. However they are brothers after the flesh, but not after the spirit, as the Orthodox people are for one another. But they are still blood brothers. We should shed tears for them as well. On another hand, if an Orthodox would become a Jehova’s witness or a Catholic, how should I cry for him? Now there are millions like them. Have I cried enough? No, so I am far from having true love in my heart.

Some fathers used to pick vegetables from their gardens and they put them near the paths of the skete, which were frequently crossed by monks, pilgrims, workers, so that they would benefit from the alms offered by the fathers, taking anything they needed.

Even today, on the remote ways you may find a loaf of bread and olives for a tired traveler. It is a continuation of the Athonite hospitality from the Garden of Theotokos, where the monks see Christ in any visitor.

This is in accordance with His own words: I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in; and: whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.(Matthew, chapter 25)

In Karulia was living a Russian hermit, father Zosimas, a man of absolute love. He took care of the sick men and helped anyone in need.

During the war he fed many hermits making baskets and selling them.

Saint Gherontie, the founder of the skete of Saint Anne used to pray in this way: “God, make all the atheists, pagans, disbelievers and heretics repent, learn the truth and believe in You,  become one flock and one shepherd and glorify You, the True, Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so that none of them will be left out of heaven, my Lord.”

An old and poor hermit said to his neighbor:

“Brother come and see what kind of love the fathers have!” “I have found bread, fruits, cheese and fish.” “They left them here for me and it was exactly what I needed.” “God be praised!” “The Holy Mother of God takes care of everything!”

Father Habakkuk had a candid and deep love which is often found in the Holy Mountain. He worked as an orderly in the Holy Lavra. For many days and night, months and years, on summer and winter, father Habakkuk spent his time washing the clothes of the sick brothers and of the laymen who were in distress, without complaining. He went from the laundry to the kitchen and vice versa, preparing dishes and feeding the sick people. Then he brought them the washed clothes, so that they would be clean all the time.

I was happy to meet and to know father Modest, who lived in the monastic community from Konstamonitu, a tireless teacher of divine love. All his preaches were based on love, the centre of spiritual life. Many times he said:

“As long as we don’t feel that all people are our brothers and sisters and we are their brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit won’t dwell in our hearts. God loves all people alike, the greatest sinner and the holiest man. In the same way we should embrace anyone in our heart. Love endures, offers, suffers. God is love.”

An elder said:

“Anyone who loves God, doesn’t love only his neighbor, but the entire creation: the trees, the grass and flowers. He loves everything with the same love.”