THERE is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19.
SOME words of Elder Porphyrios’s, as best as I can translate them.
WHAT is simple is also the most precious.
So struggle in the spiritual life simply, gently, without violence. The soul struggles and is cleansed with the study of the words of the Fathers, in getting psalms by heart, scriptural passages, with chanting, with the Prayer. Give yourself to these spiritual things, and leave all the rest.
We can attain to the worship of God easily, without shedding blood. There are two paths that lead us to God, the hard and the wearisome, with fierce assaults on evil, and the easy one with love.
There are many who have chosen the hard way and have “shed blood to gain the Spirit”, such that they attain to great virtue.
I find that the shorter road is that of love. You too should follow it.
So maybe you can have another go. Study to pray, and have it as your goal to progress in the love of God and the Church. Do not wage a war of chasing the darkness from the chamber of your soul. Make a little chink for the light, and the darkness will scatter.
The same holds true for the passions and weaknesses. Don’t engage in battle with them, but turn them into strengths which defy evil.
Busy yourself in troparia, canons, in the worship of God, in intense divine longing [θείο έρωτα]. All the holy books of our Church, the Paraklitiki, the Horologion, the Psalter, the Menaia, contain holy words, words of intense longing for our Christ.
When you give yourself to this attempt with longing, your soul will be sanctified in a simple fashion, secretly, without you noticing it.
The lives of the saints and more particularly the life of St John Kalyvites [link] have made an impression on me.
The saints are friends of God. All day long, you can delight in and relish their accomplishments, and imitate their lives. The saints have given themselves entirely to Christ.
Little by little, through this study you will acquire meekness*, humility, love, and your soul will be cheered.
Don’t opt for negative ways to correct yourself. You don’t need to be afraid of the devil, or of punishment, or anything. These things create a reaction.
I myself have a little experience of these things. The aim is not to sit bolt upright, to afflict yourself, to strain, but to improve. The aim is to live, to study, to pray, to make progress in love, the love of Christ, the love of the Church.
This is the holy and beautiful thing which gladdens the soul and liberates it from every kind of evil, this is the effort one makes to be united with Christ.
To love Christ, to long for Christ, to live in Christ, like the Apostle Paul who said: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” [Gal 2:20].
This is your goal.
Ω γλυκύ μου έαρ (Great Friday hymn),
absolutely heart-rendingly sung by Nektaria Karantzi.
LET us lift up our souls on wings to divine love, by unceasing prayer, and by self-control, and contemplation.
CHRIST rested in thee, the only blessed, and from thee he clothed himself in his own flesh.
* “Meekness” [πραΰτης] “is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).