Why did the Holy Fathers place obedience above
fasting and prayer? Because asceticism without obedience leads to vanity; if a
novice merely does what he is told, he has no reason to be proud. Moreover, the
obedient has cut off his will in everything and listens to his spiritual
father, and for this reason his mind is clear of any concern and his prayer is
pure. The obedient has in mind only God and the word of his elder, while the
disobedientís mind is full of various business and condemnation for his elder,
and for that reason he cannot see God.
Obedience is necessary not only for monks, but for
all people. Even the Lord was obedient. Proud and self-assured do not let grace
reside within them, and therefore they never have internal peace, whereas the
soul of the obedient easily accepts the grace of the Holy Spirit, bringing with
it joy and serenity.
Whoever carries in him even a small amount of
grace will submit to leadership with great joy. He knows that the Lord controls
heaven and earth and the netherworld, and his own self, and his affairs and all
that exists in the world, and for this reason he is always at peace.
Obedience prevents pride. In return for obedience
you receive the ability to pray, along with the grace of the Holy Spirit. This
is why obedience is greater than fasting and prayer.
If the fallen angels had retained obedience, they
would have stayed in the heavens and would glorify the name of the Lord to this
day. And if Adam had retained obedience, then he and his issue would have
remained in Eden. But even now it is possible to return to Eden through
repentance. The Lord loves us greatly, despite our sins, as long as we seek
humility and love our enemies. Whoever does not love his enemies cannot achieve
peace, even if he were placed in Eden.
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