The Lord called on a sinful soul to repent, and it
turned to Him. Then He mercifully accepted it and revealed Himself to it
because He is merciful, humble and meek. In His infinite mercy He did not
mention the soulís sins, and the soul loved Him without end, and was drawn to
Him like a caged bird to a green wood.
Suddenly the soul loses the Lordís grace and
wonders how it insulted the Lord. "I will ask for forgiveness, and perhaps
He will once again give me His grace, for my soul wishes for nothing else in
this world except the Lord," thinks a person, for the love of the Lord is
so warming, that if a soul should taste it ó it would desire nothing else; and
if it should lose it, or if grace should dissipate, then what prayers would a
soul not utter in order to return the Lordís grace to it?
When a soul lives in the Holy Spirit, then it is
joyful and does not pine for the heavens, because it feels the Kingdom of God
within itself: the Lord has come and abides within it. But when it loses grace,
then it begins to pine for heaven and tearfully seeks out the Lord.
Whoever has not felt grace cannot know what it is
to desire it. Most people have become attached to the worldly, and they cannot
understand that nothing worldly could ever take the place of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord takes His grace from the soul and in this manner mercifully and wisely
teaches it to be humble, for it was for the soul that He spread His arms on the
Cross with such great suffering. He gives the soul the ability to struggle
against our enemies, but the soul by itself is powerless to achieve victory;
for this reason it is said, "Ask, and ye shall receive." And if we do
not ask, then we but torment and rob ourselves of the grace of the Holy Spirit,
without which the soul remains confused, because it cannot see the will of God.
Here is the shortest and easiest path to
salvation: Be obedient and temperate, do not judge and keep your mind and heart
free of evil thoughts; believe instead that all people are kind and that God
loves them. For these humble thoughts the grace of the Holy Spirit will live
within you, and you will say, "God is merciful."
It brings the Lord joy to see a humbly penitent
soul, and He brings the grace of the Holy Spirit to it. I know how one novice
received the Holy Spirit after only a half-year in a monastery; others received
the Holy Spirit after ten years; and yet others live for forty and more years
before they experience grace. But none of them could retain grace,
because we are not humble.
Saint Serafim was 27 years old, when he saw the
Lord, and his soul loved God so, that the sweetness of the Holy Spirit changed
him entirely. But when he later went to a deserted area and saw that he no
longer carried that grace, he stood for three years on a rock and cried,
"Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."
Blessed is he who does not lose the grace of God,
but rises from strength to strength. I have lost grace, but the Lord has felt
great pity for me and allowed me to taste an even greater one in His mercy.
Brothers, with all your strength, humble your souls, so that the Lord will love
them and bestow His mercy upon them. But we cannot hope for mercy if we do not
love our enemies.
Glory to the Lord, that He gave us repentance,
with which we can all ó without exception ó achieve salvation. Only those who
refuse to repent shall not achieve salvation, and in this I see their despair,
and I cry out of pity for them.
Any soul which has lost its peace must repent, and
the Lord will forgive its sins, and then peace and joy will visit the soul.
There need be no witnesses, for the Holy Spirit is the witness of the remission
of sins. Here is a sign of forgiveness: if you have come to hate sin, then the
Lord has forgiven your sin.
Whoever repents sincerely is prepared to withstand
any sorrow: hunger and homelessness, cold and heat, illness and poverty,
humiliation and banishment, lies and slander, for the soul seeks God and does
not concern itself with anything worldly, but instead prays with a clear mind.
And whoever is tied to lands and wealth can never have a clear mind in God,
because deep within his soul there is always a concern over worldly things. If
he should not repent completely and not sorrow over his insult to God, then he
will die impassioned, never having received the Lord.
Christ prayed for those that crucified Him:
"Father, count not this sin against them; they know not what they
do." Archdeacon Stefan prayed for those who stoned him so that the Lord
would not judge this sin against them. And so we, if we wish to retain grace,
must pray for our enemies. If you do not find pity on a sinner who will suffer
in flames, then you do not carry the grace of the Holy Spirit, but rather an
evil spirit; and while you yet live, you must free yourself from his clutches
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