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In the grateful heart descends grace. (Part two)

26 May 2018
Tags:Religion, Christianity

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Do you know how to change one person? I remember one day an elderly couple, a very elderly couple, came to me for confession, they were for 85 years. I said to my grandfather:

"Do you sometimes say any bad words to your wife?"

- No, my father! We never quarreled!

"How is this possible for so many years?" She did not do anything to you, did she not grumble? Nothing! How? How is this possible?

And he answered me:

- I was often nervous and wanted to be angry with her. But when I came home, she was waiting for me with a tray in her hand, which had sweets, water, coffee ... She knew when I got home from work, went out and waited for me. She opened the door to me and said: "Come in, I waited for you, sit down and drink coffee!" I led the children out of the room so that they would not make noise and said: "Rest!" Bringing me clean clothes, shoes, and whatever irritated me was, I could not say anything to her. I wanted to say something to her, but I could not.

Then the grandmother came to confession, whose face shone so that it revealed her spiritual disposition. I told her:

"Grandma, you lived with your husband for so many years, did he ever argue with you?"

- No, my father! How can he swear at me. Do you know how kind he is! He never shouted at me, and I did a lot of bad things, grumbled at him and so on ... While he was working all day in the field, and I was sitting at home. Am I tired at home?

You see, this is art. Some people have learned it, and even if you want to quarrel with such a person, you can not do it. They are such positive people, with such good feelings that even if you want, you can not get mad at them. We had a monk who constantly made mistakes. He was a simple-minded person and was constantly mistaken. I often said to myself:

"As soon as I see him, I'll immediately impose penance on him." I will not regret it!

Then I met him and was ready to fulfill my promise. I asked him:

- What have you done?!

- Did you see what I did, saw?

"But did not you think it was a sin?"

- No, I did not think. If I were cleverer, would I do it ?!

And if I told him:

"What you did is a big sin!"

- Yes, it's a big sin! Yes, it's a big sin! He answered.

This concludes our conversation. No matter how I wanted to, I could not quarrel with him. Paterik tells how the devil appeared to one hegumen and said:

"Do you know how many times I tried to quarrel monks?" I tried to do this in many ways. I created a misunderstanding between them, and a little bit more, and I would manage to do it. But, unfortunately, all my attempts were unsuccessful.

The abbot asked him:

"Why did not you do it?"

"Oh, they knew one word!"

"What word?"

"Bless me, forgive me!"

The monks learned to ask for forgiveness. If something happened between the two monks, one of them said:

"Bless you, father!" Forgive me!

And yet!

But we begin to object and argue:

"What did I do wrong?" Does this concern you? Does not that bother you?

When you see that someone praises another, know that this person is a saint

And so on. Then an explosion occurs. If the fire lights, you can not put it out. It's so simple, it's only necessary for a person to realize this. Even marriage is an art. Learning to live with another person is an art. There are virtuous people who have not very well mastered this art, and although they live a spiritual life, they have something repulsive in themselves. The same thing happens in marriage - you see a woman who develops spiritually, constantly goes to church, confesses. But, unfortunately, at home, instead of attracting her household members, she pushes them away. Why? Because she is so accustomed to - always sullen, constantly dissatisfied with something, does not say what she wants. Well, tell my child that you do not like. To teach this to speak is not hypocrisy. St. Isaac the Syrian says: "When a guest comes to your house, take care of him, show him attention, as if you see God, the Angel of God." Kiss his hand and say that it is a great honor for you that he came to your house, invite him to sit down, give him freedom in your home and tell him pleasant words. Show your respect above your strength and praise it. But not to be a man-pleaser, but to learn how to communicate with your brother. In Paterik it is said: when you see that someone praises another, then know that this person is a saint. Several monks came to one avve and said to him:

"Abba, we came from Abba Pimen, who told us a lot of good things about you."

He replied:

"Yes, but did you know that Abba Pimen is better than me, because he praised another man."

It is very difficult for us to say a kind word about another person:

"Well ... a good man."

And add the word "but" at the end of the sentence:

"A good man, but ..."

If a stranger who does not interest us at all, we can still say something good, then how does the wife say that her husband's sister is good?

- Well, she's good, good ...

"Is your mother-in-law good?"

"I forgive her, Father!" Whatever she did, I forgive her!

"Do you love her?"

"Well ... I love her."

Especially now, when she died ... When my mother-in-law died, only then the daughter-in-law began to love her. And when she was alive, the daughter-in-law kept away from her. I did not hear her daughter-in-law praise her. To praise someone, you need courage.

The same applies to us, the confessors. If we ask a confessor about his brother:

- Is this cleric good?

"Yes, good," he answered.

And another cleric of the same spiritual father will say even more good words. Because he has risen above all others spiritually and looks at all as angels. You will object to me: are the confessors without shortcomings? Yes, they do, but what hinders you from saying a kind word about it? What prevents you from doing this? If you can not say a kind word about another person, it means that you are spiritually ill. So let's look inside ourselves and see if I can praise other monks like a monk, or I, like the hegumen, praise other abbots?

Is the woman praising other women? For example, does the daughter-in-law praise her mother-in-law or her mother-in-law - her daughter-in-law? Does she praise her? When you come to visit your daughter-in-law, do you say: "How delicious you prepared today!" How well you take care of my child! How glad I am that my son married you! Only you can make my child happy! "So do you act, or in another way? Or, as soon as you go into the house of the daughter-in-law, you begin to reprimand her:

"My son seems to have lost weight!" My son is worried about something!

Next time you see a smile ... But what a smile ... Through the teeth, a cold smile, like the sun in the winter. Then you have a big storm.

These are simple, everyday things, but it is very important to know them. Let us now return to gratitude. Why do we thank God? For what? For the sake of everyday life? It's very low. What do we say?

- Thank you, Lord, that my deeds are doing well, that we are healthy, that my children are alive and well, I thank You for all this.

Great, thank God for this. But this is not the reason to thank God. And what then?

We thank God, because He is God, and not something else

For God is something supreme that He has given us. And we have not the slightest idea about this. What does the Church say? "We thank you for your great glory!" We thank God, because He is Lord, because He is God, and not something else. Thank Him, because He loves us, He first loved us and commanded us to seek the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will follow. Therefore, we must thank Him - above all, for the Kingdom of God, which He gave us. What does it say in the one prayer that is read at the Divine Liturgy?

"It is worthy and righteous to sing for You, bless you, praise you, thank you, worship you in every place of your dominion, for you are an unutterable God, unknowable, invisible, incomprehensible, eternally existing, just the same, you and your only begotten Son and Spirit Your Holy One. You brought us out of nothingness into being, and raised up the fallen again, and you did everything steadfastly, until He raised us up and gave us the Kingdom Your future. For all this we thank Thee, and Thy only-begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit, for all that we know and do not know, the manifest and unknown benefactions that have been accomplished for us. We thank You and for this common service that You have accepted from our hands, although thousands of Archangels and myriads of Angels are coming to You, Cherubim and Seraphim are six-winged, many-eyed, floating, winged "[1].

We thank God, because He became a Man for us, because he honored us to stand beside Him, loved us, and we thank Him for everything else. Do you know what is most important - thanks to God for the tremendous trials that we went through? Do you know how important this is? Indeed, the time will come and it will be good if it comes, while we are alive, and not when we die, in order to thank God for all the sorrows in our life. Do you know when? When we show patience, we pray and we glorify God, and then the pain in our heart becomes dull and becomes pleasant. The poison becomes a medicine, the bitter becomes sweet, and then what David said also: It is good for me that I suffered (Ps. 118,71.). It is good for me that You allowed me to be hurt, that I was upset, defeated, broken, this is a precious blessing for me. But when do we say this? Only when we feel in our lives a beneficial hand of God. When a doctor makes an operation for us, we experience pain, and then we seldom say:

- Thank you!

Who then says to the doctor:

- Thank you for having operated on me!

Everything hurts everywhere, and you do not have to thank ... But when the operation is over, when we get better, and the danger is over, - only then we say:

- Thank you Doctor! You really helped us, and we recovered!

We thank, feeling healthy.

It would be very good if we would thank the doctor during our suffering, during the operation. Thank God. To thank, when we are on God's pedagogical operation, experiencing pain, sorrow, bleeding. You know how important it is that then a person utters the words: "Praise God!" The church always emphasizes the example of the righteous Job, and St. John Chrysostom said:

"Oh, blessed voice of Job!" When did the blessed Job become? When his children died, when he lost everything, when he was despicable, rejected, when his wife left him when he suffered, then he said:

"Blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1, 21) »

When everything is good, it's easy to say: "Thank God!"

Indeed, then he was blissful, and not when he was all right, and he said the words: "Thank God!" Then these words had no value, and they were worth nothing. When everything is good, it's easy to say: "Thank God!" And woe to us if we do not say that!

Imagine, you are doing well, and you do not say: "Thank God!" - This speaks of your enormous ingratitude. But when in life everything is going wrong, you are in pain, but you find the strength to say: "Thank God!" - then you are really blessed. You found the key, and although it is small, this key opens the big door. It is this key that opens the door to the Kingdom of God, where everything is already blissful.

Abba Isaac the Syrian says: "The mouths that thank for everything take a blessing from God. The heart in which gratitude lives, grace comes. " He also said that no gift of God can not do without adding, besides, for which we do not thank.

Elder Ephraim Katunakiotis - this large pillar of the Church - says that once the elder Joseph Hesychast sighed and said:

"Oh, it took me so many years to uncover the mystery of grace!"

Do you want to succeed in spiritual life? Learn to thank God for everything

Elder Ephraim, being young, did not dare to ask him what this mystery is. Time passed, and years later he asked him, and the elder Joseph answered:

- Gratitude. This is the secret of grace.

Do you want to succeed in spiritual life? Learn to thank God for everything.

St. Isaac the Syrian says that the heart, which constantly thanks God, brings God's gifts to man. Conversely, what brings temptation into the soul of a person is a murmur of the heart. Why? The saint explains: "God tolerates all the infirmities of man, but does not tolerate a man who constantly murmurs, and punishes him, leaving to fall into temptation." As if he says to you: "Listen, do not torment yourself, but if you want to succeed in spiritual life and be blessed - learn to thank God for everything." And we do the opposite - immediately begin to grumble:

- Why do I constantly get tempted? Why does grief come to me? Why does it happen against my wishes?

Because we are constantly grumbling, and murmuring turns good into evil. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one returned and thanked God. Christ says:

"I've healed ten people!" Only one came back?

And who was he? A foreigner, not a Jew.

"Where are the other nine?" Where did they go?

They did not return to thank God.

We have been in the Church for so many years, but we are not like our Father

I do not want to bore you anymore, but I insist on thanking God. Because this is an important key to spiritual life. For all these years that I'm talking to you, you have not heard from me that I taught you when there is food with vegetable oil, and when there is no oil, when we need to eat seafood, and when fish. All this is an external frame. Yes, we will observe this, we must observe fasts - this is a form that preserves the essence. But I want to talk about things that are the key to spiritual life. Why? Because, unfortunately, we have only learned to keep fit, and it's unfortunate that we have been in the Church for so many years, but we have not acquired the features that characterize God's person, and we are not like our Father. If we are the children of Heavenly Father, how is it possible that we are unlike Him? God is light, and He says: "Behold, I create all things new" (Rev. 21, 5). God lives in an unapproachable light, He is light, love, peace, gives joy, gratitude. For all the thanks (1 Thessalonians 5, 18), - says the apostle.

The essence of the Church is the Holy Eucharist, and it invites us to thank the Lord, who gives us such grace and freedom; we are the free children of God. Today everyone talks about freedom, about joy. But where can all this be found, if not in the Church? Is it possible that God's man did not have joy, gratitude, peace? So, something is happening, then his spiritual life has been insufficient so far. As salted food can not be eaten, the same happens with us. All of us here are more or less ecclesiastical people, let everyone look at themselves, and not at others, to see how much we still do not have and what picture we are creating for other people. What picture? The picture of the Kingdom of God, coming to the world and showing that the Church of Christ is the hope of peace. People ask us:

"But where is this hope?" Who embodies this hope? When we are so difficult and ungrateful people, how can we give other people hope? Words?

No. We will answer before God not only because we have lost ourselves, but also because we have trampled this picture of God before people. Indeed, we must be such as Christ says:

- The city that stands on the mountain - that all of us saw and said: here they are! (compare Math 5, 14)

Let's let God act in us, and we will know the secret of thanksgiving, and we will thank Christ with dignity and righteousness. But for what reason and when? Then, when our heart starts to think first of all about heavenly, but not earthly. We must thank God for all the great spiritual gifts that He gave us, and then give thanks for the earthly blessings. Then gratitude will transform our character.


[1] The Russian text of this prayer is taken from the site - http://www.rulit.me/books/tekst-liturgii-svt-ioanna-zlatousta-na-russkom-yazyke-read-227855-9.html

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