Words of Spiritual Benefit | 141-150
141-Yours or Others Mistakes
People's view of wrong and right , its direction and judgement, differ from person to another according to the contrition or pride of heart.
A humble person concentrates his search on his personal mistakes, and if he blames anyone, he will only blame himself.
But the unlowly will be only preoccupied with the wrongs of others occupies all his thoughts, enthusiasm and all his attention and it might also occupy all his time and energy.
He makes himself a judge over people, to control and judge, and becomes fond of the judicial position, so installs himself judge and pronounce his sentences.
If he finds no wrongs in the others, he imagines it but his suspicion, doubt, mistrust in people, his heart's readiness to listen to what hurts others, no matter how it is untruthful!
He might think that his condemnation of the others on what he sees wrong in them, puts him is a higher level over them, as if he understands what they do not understand, and therefore he is more in thinking, understanding, handling and disposing!
And in all this, he forgets himself. He always censures and cannot accept the blame.
He reproves and cannot accept reproach, criticises and cannot accept criticism.
His own self is without sin, perfect in his eyes. Therefore it is difficult for the unlowly to repent! Why he repents and he sees no wrong in himself?!
It is difficult for the unlowly to accept advice. What people understand more than him so that they can give him advice.
The trial which happened to the faithful Job, because " ... he was righteous in his own eyes." (Job 32:1).
That is why our teacher the Apostle St. Paul says, "Do not be wise in your own opinion." (Rom 12:16).
Solomon the Wise says, " ... and lean not on your own understanding. Do not be wise in your own eyes." (Prov 3: 5 & 7).
Happy is the person who condemns himself in everything, who concerns himself in his eternity not by judging people.
142 - How?
It is not important in your life to pray, but what is really important: how to pray?
Is your prayer a mere repetition of words or it is a real, deep relation with God, which makes you feel the joy of His presence with you, and that you talk to a tangible being, confident that you are standing before Him.
Therefore, it is not the words of the prayer, but as much as what you realise from its understanding and depth, and as much as the mixed spiritual feelings which prove that you mean what you say.
Ask yourself, especially during this holy period of fasting, How to pray? Do you feel that your prayer has ascended to above, and went in the presence of God, and that you heard, in your heart, a special response to it??
Is your prayer filled with love, in such a manner that you are urged by this love to pray, not because of any obligation.
Is your heart - with all its feelings, desires and affections - tied with God during prayer? And not like those about whom the Lord said, " These people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." (Matt 15:8).
Is your prayer filled with reverence and penance too?.
During which you realise to whom you are talking. He is the unlimited in all His perfections, the Almighty, the Creator, to whom all the knees bow, what in heaven and what on earth. Before Him you are only dust, but because of His extreme humility, He called you son.
Does your prayer have the spirit of faith?
Do you say your prayer with all concentration?
Is your prayer far from the self and is concentrated on God?
As much as possible you try to concentrate on God; His good attributes which capture your heart; His Kingdom, heaven, angels, promises, companionship, love.
And if you pray, you wish not to stop but to continue praying forever and your life becomes a prayer.
143 - Hope (2)
Since the first sin and before the eviction of our fore parents from paradise, God granted them the hope of salvation and told them that the woman's seed will crush the serpent's head. This was the beginning of hope.
The story of Mary Magdalene gives us an example of hope. This woman, out of whom the Lord cast seven demons, became a great saint and He entrusted her with the announcement of His Resurrection to His disciples. She was also with the Virgin Mary at the cross.
Also the example of Jonah the Prophet gives us the same hope.
Who ever thought that a person who was swallowed by a great fish, kneels to God in the belly of the fish and says, “I will look again towards your holy temple." (Jon 2:4).
The above two examples remind us of the three men who were cast in the burning fiery furnace, and Daniel in the lion's den. all are examples of hope.
There is no impossible in the life with God. There is hope whatever the sin is, whatever the troubles are and whatever difficult the case is.
In the spiritual life, how nice are the sayings about hope in the Bible:
" ... all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23).
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13).
If you are fought confronted with hopelessness about your personal abilities, you will not be fought about God's power.
If you are not able to , God can:
Even if you are not seeking Him, He seeks you as He sought the prodigal son and the lost coin. He stands and knocks at your door to open for Him. How great is this hope that God is seeking you.
Satan, in keen insistence, does not lose hope to destroy the most saintly and continues fighting him. How more becomes our hope in God's salvation of sinners.
God gave us hope in incidents mentioned in the Bible, the numerous miracles like the resurrection of the dead, even the one who has been dead for four days.
The greater war by which Satan fights us is hopelessness.
144 - The Holy Spirit in Your Life
What is your relationship with the Holy Spirit since you were anointed with the Holy Chrism (Myroun) after your baptism?
Do you feel your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit of God dwells and works in you?
Did you enter in communion with the Holy Spirit which the priest mentions in the blessing prayer?
Does the Spirit of God partake in every deed?
Or you work alone without the Spirit of God, independent with your opinion, will, disposal and personal desires?
Does the work of the Spirit give you special warmth, either in your prayers or contemplations, service, or your love to God, His church and kingdom?
Are you able to carry out the commandment of the Apostle which says, " ... be filled with the Spirit." (Eph. 5:18).
Does the Spirit of God speak with your tongue as it was said, "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you?" (Matt 10:20). If it is so, certainly your words will have power and effect on the hearts of your listeners.
Or do you talk by yourself and the Spirit does not open your mouth?
Do you have the fruits of the Spirit about which the Apostle St. Paul talked in (Gal 5:22) when he said, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control." Either your life bears no fruit or you wish for the gifts of the Holy Spirit without having the fruit of the Spirit?!
Do you sometimes feel that you "grieve the Holy Spirit of God." (Eph. 4:30) with certain disposals which do not agree with the Holy Spirit which dwells in you.
Do you "quench the Spirit" (1 Thess 5:19) with the life of lukewarmness and lack of response to the work of the Spirit in you?
Would you re-evaluate the extent of your relationship with the Holy Spirit and then ask:
Is your life a spiritual life? Are your words spiritual?
145 - The Firm Line
What troubles people most in their spiritualities is the lack of firmness.
Like a person who repents, or assumes he repented, confesses and receives communion, then he returns to his sin as before without firmness in his repentance, his feelings of regret are not firm, also his desire to live with God.
Those who lead that way, they have no constant relationship with His love or kingdom, but they falter between two opinions.
One day they worship God in the tabernacle of meeting and another day they worship the golden calf. They walk with God for months under the cloud, and at another time they murmur, cry and say, " Oh, we stayed in the land of Egypt, we sat by the pots of meat."
They eat the Passover with Christ and agree with the chief priests to betray him to them.
They say to the Lord, "Even if we have to die with you", and after hours they deny Him three times before a servant girl. The factor of instability troubles the spiritual life and weakens its strength if it continued like that.
There are many reasons for the lack of firmness in the spiritual life:
It might be because the spiritual life is not based on love or it is mere formalities from the outside which has no foundation in the depth of the soul.
The reason might be an unforeseen fear if the relationship with God - the time of which has already passed - or a temporary warmth faded after some time, or by a provisional effect the causes of which were eliminated.
It might be that the relationship with God has started without ending the relation with sin, or that its causes still remain.
It might be a shaken personality, or liable to inclination, easily affected to the right or left, attracted to the spiritualities sometimes or to the worldliness.
The instability does not help at all to grow spiritually.
How can a person grow if he sometimes goes backwards, falls and rises, rises and falls without firmness?!
Therefore, the Lord says, "Abide in me, and I in you." He seeks this firmness and says, "Abide in my love."
146 - Sacrifice
The love which does not sacrifice is a barren love, without fruit.
Love is a productive mother that gives birth to numerous virtues such as compassion and affection, a word of encouragement and a word of consolation, attention and care, forgiveness and seeking the salvation of the soul. This is the spiritual love.
Perhaps the most distinguished quality in love is sacrifice.
This is the big difference between love and lust. Love always seeks to give and lust always seeks to take.
Lust seeks to take because it is concentrated around the self, but love, as the Apostle said," ... does not seek its own."
Love that does not sacrifice is not a true love.
Love sacrifices everything, does not keep anything from whom it likes, no matter how this thing is precious or essential to it.
The best a loving person can do is to sacrifice himself, and the Lord said, "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13). This was shown in depth on the cross.
The crucified Jesus is a sacrifice of love. The Bible said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).
During the Passion Week, many contemplate the passion of Christ. Christ's passion is merely a natural result of his love. Love here is the origin and passion is the outside appearance.
Would we contemplate His love which He has shown in His passion?
The candle melts to give light to others, it also sacrifices itself for the sake of others; we put candles before the icons of the saints it is a symbol.
Also the incense seed burns in fire to give sweet smell which ascends to God. It is a delightful burnt offering to God, and it is a symbol.
147 - Resurrection is a Spring of Hope
Man triumphed in hundreds of fields except death. Before death, man stood helpless and hopeless.
Then came the resurrection to give the first victory over death:
The Apostle says in a challenge, "O Death, where is your sting?"
Then, hope in the eternal life enters man's heart and fills it with joy, that he will not perish or come to an end.
Also, the church receives those who pass away with the beautiful chant "it is not death to your servants but it is a transition."
The chanter also says in the psalm, "The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; the right hand of the Lord is exalted ... I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." (Ps. 118:16/17).
Victory over death gave hope to triumph over all other things, because who overcomes the powerful certainly can handle those who are weaker than him.
Therefore, through victory over death, the morale of the children of God has risen, and our teacher St. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Also, before man there was no difficulty, no impossible, but "all things are possible to him who believes".
The spirit of the resurrection spread out its hope on everything.
Before any difficulty or problem stands the picture of the Lord who resurrected from the dead to give hope that after death there is life, and after darkness there is light, and there is a solution to every problem.
That is how the children of God lived "Rejoicing in hope"(Rom. 12;12). They see that everything around them "Even though he dies, he shall live" that is why they "should not sorrow as others who have no hope"
Here ends the grieves of Gethsemane and the passion of Golgotha, the suspicion and fear of the upper room. But the remains the picture of the bright angel before the empty tomb to announce the Resurrection.
148 - Envy Of The Devil
In the Holy Mass we say in the Prayer of Reconciliation "You destroyed death which was introduced into the world by the envy of the devil".
We see that Satan envies every good and successful deed, because goodness and success are against his satanic plan to resist the Kingdom of God on earth, either in relation to individuals or groups.
The devil always labours to fight the children of God and his labour is in vain.
When he finds out that he toiled in vain with no result, his hatred and envy to the children of God increases. His wars become more fierce, and after they are fought in secret, they turn out openly and without shame pressing on the children of God without mercy. But God will not let " … the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous." (Ps. 125:3).
Therefore, in every good deed you expect the envy of the devils but do not fear them. At the ordination of a new monk, a chapter from the Book of Joshua Bin Sirach is read to him, which says, "Son, if you engage in the service of your God, prepare yourself for all trials"
With the same meaning, we read in the sayings of St. Aughiris to the devoted monk "If you start the holy prayer, be prepared for whatever comes to you". He means be ready for the wars of the devil which he declared on you because of your holy worship.
How poor is the devil who spends his life in envy, hatred and war!
His envy does not harm the sons of God, but in fact it harms him and increases his eternal punishment. Also, such envy gives him more grief, sadness, distress and trouble. Any harm the devil tries to impose on the sons of God is an external harm, unreal and does not affect their eternity; how quick God saves them.
Satan might fight the sons of God directly as it happened with the righteous Job, and he might fight them through his human helpers.
In both ways his envy will end in vain because the grace of God intervenes and stops his evil deed. God stay and all his enemies disperse, all those hate his Holy Name will flee.
Even if Satan showed success at first he will surely fail at last.
When Satan envied Job the righteous, it seemed that he succeeded in his plan and triumphed over Job, he destroyed his house, killed all his children, struck him with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, made his friends reproach and disgrace him, but the whole matter ended to the contrary; the Lord restored Job's losses and gave him twice as much as he had before.
Satan is tormented by his own envy before the sons of God strike him.
149 - The Confession Father
=> He is the person when you see him you remember God, His rights and commandments. You also remember your promises before God.
=> He is the one who can change your life to better with his deep spiritual effect as well as his knowledge, relation with God and good example.
=> He is an oasis in the desert of your life where you rest and think of God, not the oasis or the rest.
=> He is not a bridge you cross to reach the other side, but he is a plane which flies you over all coasts and takes you to your target.
=> He is the one who can make you cry and so you rejoice in your weeping more than all the fun and laughs. Sometimes, he can be harsh on you, or it appears to you that he is harsh, however, such hardness could be more tender and gentle than the kindness which makes you lose your life.
=> He is not the father who considers you a child all your life, carries you on his shoulders, guides you in all matters, but he is the wise conductor who carries you for some time until you learn wisdom and distinction, until you can stand on your feet and carry others on your shoulders and teach them.
=> The true confession father does not toil to bind you to his heart, love and obedience, but he binds you to the heart, love and obedience of God. But, he tries to disappear so that God appears in you. He does not consider himself the owner of the vineyard, but only a steward sent by God to his vineyard to prune that it may bear more fruit.
=> The confession father is not a master who always ask for obedience, submission and respect, but as a father he is full of love and affection. He is not a tie around your will, but he is the person who trains your freedom in the love of God.
=> The confession father is a carrier of sins and takes them off your head and put them on the head of Christ who bore the sins of the whole world. He is a person who lays his hand on your head then you feel that a heavy burden has been removed. He is a source of peace, announcer of good news; the forgiveness of God. He explains God's love and makes an opening of hope to lighten the darkness of your life.
=> The confession father is the practical example of every virtue; you take from his life and his doctrine, and benefit from his manner of life not only from his guidance.He is the person whom whenever you see, your spiritual passion and love to God increases.
150 - A Pleasant Word
Your words often define your relations with people.
With a word you can please a person, and with another you can sadden, anger, agitate or convert him to an enemy!
You might say a word, unintentionally, quickly, then you spend many years to handle its consequences and perhaps you fail. So, let your word be pleasant to the ears of others.
How sweet was the saying of the Angel to the shepherds, "for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." (Luke 2:10). Also, the Bible said, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things." (Rom 10:15).
How beautiful is the word of blessing and the word of prayer. It is a pleasant word.
The weeping Hannah heard it through the mouth of Eli the priest, so she went her way and her face was no longer sad.
How pleasant is the saying of the Lord Jesus to the sinful woman, who was caught in the very act, “... neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:11). It is a resolution of forgiveness which pleased the woman's heart.
The word of "forgiveness" is pleasant to the ears, and the word of "love" is also desirable to hear.
The ear can entirely distinguish the word filled with emotion and hearty feelings and can point out its truth and actual expression.
The word of encouragement and praise is also a pleasant word. It is said in the Bible, "Comfort the faint-hearted" (1 Thess 5:14)..
Encouragement gives confidence to the soul, comforts and makes it feel that its speaker is involved and following its work and pleased with it. Also its efforts are not wasted but appreciated.
The word of appreciation pleases even the grown-ups; we make them feel our support, ideal inclination and thinkable concord.
How nice is a word of encouragement said by a doctor to his patient or a professor to his student, even how nice is a simple smile.
The cheerful sweet face is also loved by people.
People want features that give them relief and overspread quietness and peace in their hearts with a pleasant word out of lips which drip honey.