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Steadfastness, abstinence verbosity, despondency

13. To people that have just begun to love piety, the path toward virtue appears tough and frightening ó and this is not because by its nature it is so, but because people from their childhood get accustomed to live expansively and pleasurably. However, for him that has led a definitive part of his life in piety, the path toward virtue is good and joyous. This is because as we crush wicked aspirations with good habits, our passionate attachment to carnal pleasures disappears. After this our soul goes willingly along the pious path. That is why in calling upon us to begin our salvation, the Lord states that the path toward life is narrow and difficult, and there are few that follow it (Mat. 7:14). To those who zealously wish to live according to His holy commandments, He says: " For My yoke is easy, and My burden ó light" (Mat. 11:30). It is desirable that at the beginning of our efforts of self-denial, we should compel ourselves to fulfill the holy commandments. In seeing our good intentions and our efforts, the Lord will give us the readiness and free will to gladly submit to His holy will for the rest of our lives.

13. Just as a stamp applied to cold and unsoftened wax will not imprint clearly, so will a person not be able to produce within himself the stamp of Godís benevolence, until he has been tested with labors and infirmities. One should bear with gratitude the various temptations that are sent to us through Godís will and providence ó then just like the ailments, the struggle with thoughts instilled into us by the demons will be taken as a second martyrdom. Because formerly, the enemy of mankind spoke through the mouths of his iniquitous commanders to the holy martyrs: " Renounce Christ and embrace the glory of this world," and today he speaks similarly to Godís servants. After all, in the past he tortured the righteous and through heretics, vilified the true teachers of the Church, and today, through vilification and humiliation inflicts various sufferings to the confessors of piety ó especially at a time when they, for the glory of God, assist with great endeavors the persecuted and the poor. For this reason, it is necessary for us to erect carefully and with patience the following witness of our conscience before the face of the Lord: "I trusted firmly in the Lord and He inclined His ear to me and heard my cry."

27. Just as our body becomes sluggish and clumsy from overeating, so does excessive abstinence make that part of the soul that contemplates depressed and incapable of reasoning. That is why it is essential to proportion the quantity of food with the condition of our physical strength. Therefore, when our body is healthy, through measured necessity it is essential to subdue it, and when it is weakened ó somewhat relax the abstinence. An ascetic should not succumb to debility but save his strength that is so essential to his deed, so that he may cleanse his soul through his physical labors.

27. Just as the often opening door of a steam-bath releases its internal warmth, so does a person lose his spiritual arrangement through the door of excessive talking, even though all he says is beneficial. This denies his powers of reasoning purity of thought and through an inflow of confused thoughts, begins to carry a confused conversation. In this condition, the person does not have the Holy Spirit that kept his thoughts arranged because the blessed Spirit, shunning every type of disorder and fantasy retreats from verbosity.

29. When the soul ceases to wish for deceitful earthly benefits, a certain spirit of despondency creeps into it and precludes it to willingly labor in the service of the spoken word and curbs her desire for future blessings. The evil spirit presents the soulís temporary life as being completely useless and devoid of worthy good works as is known to everyone, demeaning her achieved spiritual lifestyle as being ineffectual. We can avoid this tepid and debilitating passion if we keep our thoughts in the narrow confines of remembering God, because only in this manner will our spirit, having returned to its natural spiritual fervency, will be able to overcome this.

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