From the Elder Porphyrios and the book Wounded by Love.
There is one thing, O Christ, that I want, one thing I desire, one thing I ask for, and that is to be with You.
Let us Love Christ and let our only hope and care be for Him. Let us love Christ for His own sake only. Never for our sake. Let Him put us wherever He likes. Let Him give us whatever He wishes. Don’t let’s love Him for His gifts. It’s egotistical for us to say: “Christ will place me in a fine mansion which He has prepared, just as the Gospel says: In my Father’s house there are many mansions…so that where I am you may be also.” What we should say rather is: ‘My Christ, whatever Your love dictates; it is sufficient for me to live within Your love.’
As for myself, poor soul…what can I say… I’m very weak. I haven’t managed to love Christ so very fervently and for my soul to long for Him. I feel that I have a very long way to go. I haven’t arrived at where I want to be; I don’t experience this love. But I’m not discouraged. I trust in the love of god. I say to Christ: ‘I know I’m not worthy. Send me wherever Your love wishes. That’s what I desire, that’s what I want. During my life I always worshipped You.’
When I was seriously ill and on the point of leaving this life, I didn’t want to think about my sins. I wanted to think about the love of my Lord, my Christ, and about eternal life. I didn’t want to feel fear. I wanted to go to the Lord and to think about His goodness, His love. And now that my life is nearing its end, I don’t feel anxiety or apprehension, but I think that when I appear at the Second Coming and Christ says to me: Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? I will bow my head and I will say to Him: ‘Whatever you want, my Lord, whatever your love desires. I know I am not worthy. Send me wherever your love wishes. I am fit for hell. And place me in hell, as long as I am with You. There is one thing I want, one thing I desire, one thing I ask for, and that is to be with You, wherever and however You wish.’
I try to give myself over entirely to the love and worship of God. I have consciousness of my sinfulness, but I live with hope. It is bad to despair, because someone who despairs becomes embittered and loses his willingness and strength. Someone who has hope, on the contrary, advances forward. Because he feels that he is poor, he tries to enrich himself. What does a poor man do? If he is smart, he tries to find a way to become rich.
And so inspite of the fact that I feel weak and that I haven’t achieved what I desire, I nevertheless do not fall into despair. It is a consolation to me, as I’ve told you, that I don’t cease to try continually. Yet I don’t do what I want to. Pray for me. The point is that I cannot love Christ absolutely without His grace. Christ does not allow His love to show itself if my soul does not have something which will attract Him.
I do not know about others – but the older I get the more I understand about love – about desire. Most of it has to do with my children who now live elsewhere. How my heart desires to see them and spend time with them. I think that they cannot know the extent to which this is present to me. Nor do I realize the extent to which God desires to spend time with me. I cannot fathom His love for me, yet it must be so, since He sent His only begotten Son to die for me and to win me back to Him. Such love. Such desire.
Wow… that really struck me. Thank you, Father, for posting this.
Especially: “…I think that when I appear at the Second Coming and Christ says to me: Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? I will bow my head and I will say to Him: ‘Whatever you want, my Lord, whatever your love desires. I know I am not worthy. Send me wherever your love wishes. I am fit for hell. And place me in hell, as long as I am with You. There is one thing I want, one thing I desire, one thing I ask for, and that is to be with You, wherever and however You wish.’””
I do not understand how you would feel you would not have a wedding garment at the second coming. It is the garment of righteousness. When we turn our hearts over to Jesus, our own righteousness is discarded as rags, and He puts his own righteousness upon us. We do not deserve it, but he already knows that. That is why he came to earth to give us of Himself. If we give Him our hearts, He gives us His garment of righteousness Your life now is covered with the peace, blood and grace of Jesus 🙂
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Phl 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
2Ti 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
God bless you
This quote comes from the writings of a very great and holy Christian. His humility is an expression that very much part of the Orthodox Christian Tradition. Whereas we recognize that Christ alone can save us, and that He clothes us with His wedding garment, His righteousness as we accept Him, Orthodox hymnography and piety, continue, like St. Paul, to say, “Of sinners, of whom I am first,” and to focus on our unworthiness that we might glorify the mercy of God, not to doubt His promise in Scripture. It is a language of piety, perhaps different than found in some Protestant contexts, though there you can say, “Just as I am, without one plea.”
In the statement by the Elder Porphyrios, a modern saint, he imagines Himself before Christ, without one plea, and casts all of His trust upon the love of God.
You shouldn’t be too literal when reading such devotional language. Orthodoxy would never deny the Scriptures. It is the Orthodox Church that first declared the Holy Scriptures as the Canonical Word of God.
If it sounds different than what you are used to hearing, that’s not surprising. Much of Orthodox Christianity has been unknown in the Western World through many centuries. It has suffered persecution by Islam and Communists and produced more martyrs than all of the rest of Christianity combined – even in the modern era.
Christ alone is our clothing in righteousness. If I were to begin to cite how many times in the course of a liturgy, much less in the course of the liturgical year, we confess Christ as our clothing of righteousness, time would not permit.
Read with patience, ask questions, but don’t race to judge what you have had little contact with.
The language of pious humility is a hallmark of Orthodox prayer. It is strange to some ears in the West.
Thank you Father Stephen.
May God bless you.