He who puts them into practice will escape all punishment and will live in peace, whether he dwells in the desert or in the midst of brethren.
1. The monk must die to his neighbor and never judge him at all, in any way whatever.
2. The monk must die to everything before leaving the body, in order not to harm anyone.
3. If the monk does not think in his heart that he is a sinner, God will not hear him. The brother said, ‘What does that mean, to think in his heart that he is a sinner?’ Then the old man said, ‘When someone is occupied with his own faults, he does not see those of his neighbor.’
4. If a man’s deeds are not in harmony with his prayer, he labors in vain. The brother said, ‘What is this harmony between practice and prayer?’ The old man said, ‘We should no longer do those things against which we pray. For when a man gives up his own will, then God is reconciled with him and accepts his prayers.’
The brother asked, ‘In all the affliction which the monk gives himself, what helps him?’ The old man said, ‘It is written, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”‘ (Ps-46.i)
5. The old man was asked, ‘What is the good of the fasts and watchings which a man imposes on himself?’ and he replied, ‘They make the soulhumble. For it is written, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Ps.25.18) So if the soul gives itself all this hardship, God will have mercy on it.’
6. The old man was asked, ‘What should a man do in all the temptations and evil thoughts that come upon him?’ The old man said to him, ‘He should weep and implore the goodness of God to come to his aid, and he will obtain peace if he prays with discernment. For it is written, “With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?”‘ (Ps. i 18.6)
7. A brother asked the old man, ‘Here is a man who beats his servant because of a fault he has committed; what will the servant say?’ The old man said, ‘If the servant is good, he should say, “Forgive me, I have sinned.”‘ The brother said to him, ‘Nothing else?’ The old man said, ‘No, for from the moment he takes upon himself responsibility for the affair and says, “I have sinned,” immediately the Lord will have mercy on him.
The aim in all these things is not to judge one’s neighbor. For truly, when the hand of the Lord caused all the first-born in the land of Egypt to die, no house was without its dead.’
The brother said, ‘What does that mean?’ The old man said, ‘If we are on the watch to see our own faults, we shall not see those of our neighbor. It is folly for a man who has a dead person in his house to leave him there and go to weep over his neighbor’s dead.
To die to one’s neighbor is this: To bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad. Do no harm to anyone, do not think anything bad in your heart towards anyone, do not scorn the man who does evil, do not put confidence in him who does wrong to his neighbor, do not rejoice with him who injures his neighbor. This is what dying to one’s neighbor means. Do not rail against anyone, but rather say, “God knows each one.”
Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander and do not hate him who slanders his neighbor. This is what it means not to judge. Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbor. This is what peace is: Encourage yourself with this thought, “Affliction lasts but a short time, while peace is forever, by the grace of God the Word. Amen.” ‘
You are to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all things visible and invisible, nor to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its erection rises up high, but he who digs its foundation must first go down very low. So then, you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised only after humiliation.
O Jesus my Lord, Who became man and graced us with the beauty of Your life and with the example of faith, purity and love; help me, I pray, to love You with all my mind, heart and soul, and to live according to Your teachings. Strengthen me when temptations strike, that I may remain pure in thought and steadfast in virtue, doing only things that are pleasing to You. Guide me to live Your will and not my own as I look to the future. Grant me faith, courage and love, that I may serve You in holiness all the days of my life, through the prayers of the Theotokos and of all the Saints. Amen.
Join us this evening at 5:30 pm when we celebrate Great Vespers for the Feast of The Annunciation and Greek Independence Day!
You are invited to strengthen your soul tonight for your Lenten journey. Our second Pre-Sanctified Liturgy is scheduled for this evening at 5:30 PM followed by a Lenten meal sponsored by Keith Mallory and Peter Gianopoulos of Matanza Beer Kitchen. We will be discussing the first two chapters of our book Thirty Steps To Heaven.
If planning to receive Communion, please fast from all food from noon till the Eucharist tonight.
You should wish for your affairs to turn out, not as you think best, but according to God’s will. Then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer.
Saint Evagrios the Solitary