1st Friday of Great Lent
Step 4: On blessed and ever-memorable obedience (day 3 of 5 on this topic)
35. I must not fail to adorn the crown of this step with this emerald. Once I started a discussion on silence with some of the most experienced elders in the community. With a smile on their faces and in jovial mood they said to me in a friendly way: ‘We, Father John, being material, live a material life, preferring to wage war according to the measure of our weakness, and considering it better to struggle with men, who are sometimes fierce and some times penitent, than with demons who are continually raging and up in arms against us!’
40. Once one of the brothers was expelled by him for slandering his neighbour to him and calling him a windbag and gossip. The expelled man did not leave the gates of the monastery for a whole week, begging to be granted entry and forgiveness. When that lover of souls learnt of this, and heard that this brother had had nothing to eat for six days, he told him: ‘If you have a resolute desire to live in the monastery, I will degrade you to the rank of a penitent.’ And when the penitent gladly accepted this, the pastor ordered him to be taken to the separate monastery for those who were mourning over their falls. And that was done. But since we have mentioned that monastery, I shall now speak about it briefly. [I will not paste here anything from this section of the other monastery, called The Prison.]
42. To admire the labours of the saints is good; to emulate them wins salvation; but to wish suddenly to imitate their life in every point is unreasonable and impossible.
49. He who is not submissive in speech, clearly will not be so in act either. For he who is unfaithful in little is also unfaithful in much, and is intractable. He labours in vain, and he will get nothing from holy obedience but his own doom.
53. By resolving to make one’s confession, the soul is thereby held from sinning as by a bridle. For what we do not confess, that we do fearlessly as though in the dark.
64. If everything depends on habit, and follows upon it, then still more do the virtues depend on habit, for they have God as their great collaborator.
[Quotations from: The Ladder of Divine Ascent, published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (ISBN 0943405033), which is based on Archimandrite Lazarus Moore’s translation]