The following small quotation is from the book Wisdom from Mount Athos: the Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938
We must always pray the Lord for peace of soul that we may the more easily fulfil the Lord’s commandments; for the Lord loves those who strive to do His will, and thus they attain profound peace in God.
He who does the Lord’s will is content with all things, though he be poor or sick and suffering, because the grace of God gladdens his heart. But the man who is discontented with his lot and murmurs against his fate, or against those who cause him offense, should realize that his spirit is in a state of pride, which has taken from him his sense of gratitude towards God.
But if it be so with you, do not lose heart but try to trust firmly in the Lord and ask Him for a humble spirit; and when the lowly spirit of God comes to you you will then love Him and be at rest in spite of all tribulations.
The soul that has acquired humility is always mindful of God, and thinks to herself: ‘God has created me. He suffered for me. He forgives me my sins and comforts me. He feeds me and cares for me. Why, then should I take thought for myself, and that is there to fear, even if death threaten me?
I will add the observation that it is within ourselves that we should look to find the peace of God – never outward circumstances.
Fr, this is truly a beautiful post!
i think rightfully St. Siloun is called Staretz!
In my current turmoil i find myself crying “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy,” yet forgetting all the while to be thankful for what i do have.
Neglecting the peace of God that accompanies a grateful heart, i’ve cast off all thankfulness and chose rather to focus solely on a minor bump in the road.
i hadn’t even realized that this is what i had been doing until i read this post.
Glory to God for ALL things!
I have a question for you Fr Stephen, that is not about this posting, but more about doctrine…..where can I ask the question privately? Perhaps I can find my answer online but I would still like your input.
It’s my email for the podcast. It’ll get to me.
I don’t have the book from which this excerpt is taken, but I do have Elder Sophrony’s biography of St. Silouan, which of course has a large number of St. Silouan’s own writings. I was wondering if you know if either of these two books contains the complete works of St. Silouan, or do both of them contain different (even if overlapping) works? Is there a single volume available in English that contains all the saint’s writings?
The peace of God is a blessing. We cannot begin to taste it until we realize our powerlessness and helplessness before God. Sometimes the biggest tempest of life contains within it the seeds of a new understanding and relationship with God.
I do not presume to have attained the Peace of God. But in the middle of the worst time of my life he finally gave me a small taste of it.
All things do work together for good.
“He who does the Lord’s will is content with all things, though he be poor or sick and suffering, because the grace of God gladdens his heart. But the man who is discontented with his lot and murmurs against his fate, or against those who cause him offense, should realize that his spirit is in a state of pride, which has taken from him his sense of gratitude towards God.”
Content with all things vs. discontent with one’s lot. I have been trying to understand this one better. Does this mean that one does not aim for better? How far does one take this? I assume the former [contentment] is apathia… when does apathia become apathy?
Fr. Stephen, I want to understand and appreciate the church’s teaching that the answer is within us. It’s troublesome, however, because everything around seems to encourage every kind of selfism. Our culture clearly doesn’t prepare us, at least not in my case, to receive this teaching.
Thank you Father for this post.
Father Stephen, thank you for this post–just what I need this morning.
Our culture does a terrible job with this for several reasons. Part of the lure of modernity is to teach that life is external, thus problems are external, thus we can fix everything without having to change anything about ourselves. The sins of pride, greed, envy, gluttony, etc., are virtually all aimed at pleasing ourselves and yet they only make us miserable. Thus we must recognize the culture for what it is, renounce its lies, and get on with the slow, patient work of repentance. Romans 12:1 offers us much hope.
V & E,
To be content with one’s lot in life does not mean to forego school, or turn down a raise, etc. But it means that having done all I know to do, to place the outcome of things in God’s hands, and to accept them with peace. It doesn’t mean to quit trying. If you are in the world, work hard. If you are a monk, work hard. Apatheia is not apathy in the modern sense at all. It is freedom from false cares not freedom from all cares.
I have always assumed that the large, British volume, Saint Silouan the Athonite, contained the most complete collection of his writings (as well as Staretz Sophrony’s account of his life and teachings.)