First of all, Elder Paisios tells us that, for love to blossom in the heart,
we must pray with pain of heart. Once he was asked, "We pray, Elder, and
our thoughts go here and there. Why?"
"Because it is prayer without pain!" replied the Elder. "To
pray with the heart, we must hurt. Just as when we hit our hand or some other
part of our body, our mind (nous) ("Nous:
the highest faculty or power of the human soul, called by the Holy Fathers
"the eye of the soul," St. John Damascene, and "the spiritual
nature of man," St. Isaac the Syrian) is gathered to the point we
are hurting, so also for the mind to gather in the heart, the heart must
The Elder was then asked, "How can we preserve ourselves in this state
when we don’t have some problem, some pain?"
He replied, "We should make the other’s pain our own!! We must love the
other, must hurt for him, so that we can pray for him. We must come out little
by little from our own self and begin to love, to hurt for other people as
well, for our family first then for the large family of Adam, of God" (Athanasios Rakovalis, Talks with Father Paisios
(Thessalonica, Greece: Orthodox Kypseli, 2000), pp. 123-24).
At another time the Elder said, "The more one hurts, the more divine
consolation one receives, because otherwise it is not possible to stand the
pain... God especially consoles those who hurt for others" (Ibid.,p. 124).
To his spiritual children the Elder wrote: "To some people your love
will be expressed with joy and to others it will be expressed with your pain.
You will consider everyone your brother or your sister, for we are all children
of Eve (of the large family of Adam, of God). Then, in your prayer you will
say: ‘My God, help those first who are in greater need, whether they are alive
or reposed brothers in the Lord.’ At that point, you will share your heart with
the whole world and you will have nothing but immense love, which is Christ"
(Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Epistles, p.
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