From St. Silouan the Athonite.
Enlightened by baptism, people believe in God. But there are some who even know Him. To believe in God is good but it is more blessed to know God. Nevertheless, those who believe are bless, too, as the Lord said to Thomas, one of the twelve: ‘Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’
If we were humble the Lord in His love would show us all things, would reveal to us all mysteries, but our trouble is that we are not humble. We puff ourselves up and boast over trifles, and so make both ourselves and others unhappy.
The Lord, though He is merciful, oppresses the soul with hunger on account of her pride, and withholds grace from her until she has learned humility. I was perishing from my sins, and would long ago have been in hell, had not the Lord and His most holy and blessed Mother taken pity on me. O, her quiet, gentle voice! A voice from heaven the like of which we shall never hear on earth! And so now in tears I write of the Lord of Mercy, as He were my own Father. It is sweet for the soul to be with the Lord: Adam tasted the sweetness of this bliss in paradise when he saw the Lord with open eyes, and we feel in our souls that He is with us according to His promise: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’
The Lord is with us. What more cou8ld we desire? The Lord created man that we might live and bask in Him for ever – that we might be with Him and in Him. And the Lord desires to be with us Himself, and in us. The Lord is our joy and gladness, and when pride causes us to withdraw from Him, it means that of our own accord we deliver ourselves up to suffering. Anguish of heart, dejection and evil thoughts lacerate us….
The proud man fears obloquy, while the humble man cares nothing. He who has acquired Christ-like humility will ever upbraid himself, and it rejoices him to be abused, and grieves him to be acclaimed. but this humility is still only elementary – when the soul comes to know the Lord in the Holy Spirit, how humble and meek He is, she sees herself as the worst of all sinners, and is happy to sit in shabby raiment in the ashes like Job, while she beholds other men in the Holy Spirit shining in the likeness of Christ.
May the Merciful Lord give all men to savor Christ’s humility which passes description. The soul will then know no further desire but will live for ever in humility, love and lowliness.
Some added thoughts of my own…
I am constantly aware of the many dangers that assault us. Dangers from within (for the Orthodox) and dangers from without (for us all). And yet I know of no danger that is not defeated in the humility of Christ. There is something about danger that speaks to us and calls us to battle – and yet, such battle does not yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. That which speaks to us in such cases is fear – the same that would call us to run away. Humility alone knows no fear and never runs away. It does not fear the battle for in the humility of Christ the battle is already won, the victory complete. Humility does not run away but embraces the Cross with joy, for it knows that humility is indeed the very similitude of God. If we run away or fight the battle on the brave terms of man, we lose, for we do not fight in the humility of Christ. Christ alone is victorious and humility alone can save us in the manner of God’s gracious salvation.
How hard and yet how simple!