With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man - By Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

This past week I was blessed to travel to Holy Protection Monastery in White Haven, Pennsylvania, not once, but twice.  While perusing the bookstore, I was interested in many of the books there, but I did not purchase any of them because many of them are already a part of the collection at home. 

I picked up the familiar blue bound book cover, this one entitled: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels. I have read a few other books like this one, where nuns from the Holy Monastery of the Evangelist John the Theologian in Sourti, Thesseloniki transcribed their elder’s teachings. This book, in particular, provides spiritual counsel in a question and answer format. The short answers often can be quickly read, but are jam-packed with thought provoking wisdom. As a result of the format, the book is easy to pick up quickly and start anywhere, but warrants re-reading and contemplation.

Part two of this book addresses modern civilization with chapters titled, God’s Wisdom and the Environment, The Era of Many Comforts, Avoid Anxiety by Simplifying Your Life, External Noise and Internal Tranquility, and Too May Worries Distance Us From God. This section criticizes the secular life we lead.

I share with you an excerpt, equally as interesting and thought provoking as the rest, but one that I have been reading and re-reading this week as it is an inspiration in combating my personal struggles.

Geronda, how should a person who is by nature a thinker and exerts pressure on himself, avoid becoming overwhelmed?

 -  If he remains simple, he will not get tired.  But if there is egoism, no matter how small, the one wants to do everything to perfection and tries to avoid mistakes at any cost.  This is why even the slightest mistake makes him tired.  A mistake here and there will not hurt, even if one gets a little reprimand for it. . .  

 In the spiritual life, a person who has many responsibilities gets a headache when she runs into an impasse. This happens when her decisions affect others and she must make sure that no one is wronged.  In other words, this kind of problem arises when our conscious is constantly being challenged.  You must be very careful, Sister, to live the spiritual life with your heart rather than your mind. And never do a job without first putting your trust in God, with great humility. Otherwise you will agonize over it and exhaust your mind and soul.  Usually it is a lack of faith that hides behind agony. But pride can cause agony too.[1]

Do we live our spiritual lives with our hearts or our minds?

May Saint Paisios intercede to Christ God on our behalf!

In Christ,

Pani Amy George