... Lord Jesus Christ,Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner-Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ,Υιέ Θεού, ελέησόν με τον αμαρτωλό...

Παρασκευή, 10 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Too Many Worries Will Distance Us From God. (By ELDER PAISIOS)


Too Many Worries Will Distance Us From God
We Must Not Create Too Many Fronts
People today do not live simply and for this reaison they suffer from too many distractions.

They open too many fronts of activity and lose themselves in endless solicitude. As for me, I just try to take care of one or two things, and then I start thinking about something else. I never try to do too many things at the same time. Let's say that I am thinking of doing this particular thing. Well, first I finish it, and then I start thinking about doing something else. For, if I do not finish what I have started, I cannot find peace. When someone has too many things to do at once, he loses his mind. Just thinking about all of them at once can cause someone to become schizophrenic.

Once, a young man with psychological problems came to my Kalyvi. He told me that he suffered from a hypersensitivity, which he inherited from his parents. I said to him, "What is this hereditary stuff you are talking about? First of all you need to get some rest. Then you must get back to school and earn your degree. After that, go and fulfil your military service, and when you are done look for a job." He followed my advice and found his way. That is how people can come to their senses.

- Geronda, I tire easily when I work. I do not know what is to blame for it.
- What you seem to be lacking is patience. And the rea¬son you cannot be patient is that you undertake too many things. You spread yourself too thin and you tire easily. This makes you nervous because you have philotimo, and when you cannot do something well, you get anxious.
When I was in the Coenobitic Monastery, there was a monk named Isidore, who served with me in the carpenter's shop. He had no patience at all. He would start working on a window, then he would get worried, and stop; next he would start on a door, he would get upset and quit; and then he started working on roofs. He would stop in the middle of something, and leave everything un¬finished. He ended up losing some of the wood or cutting it the wrong size. This is how one can break his back and achieve nothing in the end.

There are some people who have limited abilities and can do only one or two things well. When they get in-volved in too many activities, they end up doing nothing right and drag others along too. As much as possible, one should do one or two things only, complete them cor¬rectly, and then, with a clear mind and a rested body, get started on something else. For a scattered mind will not be able to do quality spiritual work. How will he be able to remember Christ?
Do Not Give Your Heart to Material Things
-        Geronda, what do you mean when you say, "Give your legs and your hands to work but not your heart"?
- I mean that you should not give your heart to material things. Some people give their whole self to material things. They spend the entire day trying to do a job well and don't think of God at all. We should not end up there. When you work, you should use your hands and your legs, but you should not let your mind stray away from God. You should not give all your being, all your energy and your heart to material things. This way one becomes a pagan, an idol worshipper. Do your best at work, but do not give your heart to the work you do; give only your hands, your mind. Do not give your heart to hopeless, useless things. If you do, then how will your heart leap for Christ? When the heart is with Christ, then even the work we do is sanctified, our soul is at rest and there is real joy in our heart. Make the most of your heart; do not waste it.
If the heart is squandered on many insignificant things, it will not have the endurance to feel pain for the one right thing that it should care about. I will give my heart to a cancer patient, to someone who is suffering. I agonize over the young people in danger. I pray that God will enlighten them. When I have people around me, all I care for is the pain the other person feels, and the love that we must have for each other. I am not even aware of my own pain. Thus, one comes to forget his own troubles; his life now takes a new direction.
-        Geronda, is it possible not to give your mind and heart to all types of work?
-        When the task is simple, it helps if the mind is not absorbed. But when the task is complex, then it makes sense to become somewhat absorbed mentally but not to let that take over the heart.
-        How does it take over the heart?
-        How? Well, temptation comes and puts it to sleep with "morphine"! It gets hold of the heart with egotism. But when the heart surrenders to God, then the intellect rests with God while the mind concentrates on the work.
-        When we speak of a "carefree" mind, what do we mean exactly?
-        We mean that when you work, you should not forget Christ. Do your work joyfully, but keep your mind and your heart focused on Christ. If you do this, not only you will not get tired, but you will also be able to do your spiritual work.
Work Done With Peace of Mind and Prayer Is Sanctified
-        Isn't it better, Geronda, to take your time and your job slowly in order to maintain your calm?
-        Yes, because when we work calmly, we" maintain our serenity and then our whole day is sanctified. Unfortu-nately, we do not realize that when we do our work in a hurry, we become nervous. And when work is done ner-vously, it is not sanctified. Our goal should not be to do many things and be in constant anxiety. This is a demonic condition.

When monastic handicrafts are made with peace of mind and prayer, they are sanctified and they also sanctify the people who use them. Then, it makes sense for lay people to seek these handiworks from us as a blessing. By contrast, any work made with haste and nervousness transmits this demonic condition to others. Work done with haste and anxiety is the mark of a very secular person. Instead of giving people a blessing, what these troubled souls impart on others with their handiwork is their troubled state. A person's state affects not only the work that he does, but also the materials, the wood that he is using! The final product of a man's work reflects his spiritual state. If he is upset and angry and swears, his work will not bring a blessing to others. But if he chants, if he says the Jesus Prayer, his work is sanctified. The first condition is demonic, the other is divine.

If you act with piety and pray while you are working, you are always sanctified and everything around you be-comes sanctified. When one has God in mind, his works and his handicrafts are also sanctified. Let us say, for example, that I am making a box while saying the Jesus Prayer; I am praying and at the same time working for the glory of God. My goal is not to make boxes, and to do it quickly, to produce a lot of them and end up full of anxiety. That would be a demonic state. We did not come to the Monastery for this. We came to be sanctified and to sanctify whatever we do. This is the reason why sometimes you feel like a good employee performing your assigned tasks; you get so busy running around, doing your job that you forget to take Christ with you. But if you begin your work with the Jesus Prayer, you will feel like a servant of Christ. So, if you want to be sanctified and to sanctify

-        When the task is simple, it helps if the mind is not absorbed. But when the task is complex, then it makes sense to become somewhat absorbed mentally but not to let that take over the heart.
-        How does it take over the heart?
-        How? Well, temptation comes and puts it to sleep with "morphine"! It gets hold of the heart with egotism. But when the heart surrenders to God, then the intellect rests with God while the mind concentrates on the work.1
-        When we speak of a "carefree" mind, what do we mean exactly?
-        We mean that when you work, you should not forget Christ. Do your work joyfully, but keep your mind and your heart focused on Christ. If you do this, not only you will not get tired, but you will also be able to do your spiritual work.
Work Done With Peace of Mind and Prayer Is Sanctified
-        Isn't it better, Geronda, to take your time and your job slowly in order to maintain your calm?
-        Yes, because when we work calmly, w£ maintain our serenity and then our whole day is sanctified. Unfortunately, we do not realize that when we do our work in a hurry, we become nervous. And when work is done nervously, it is not sanctified. Our goal should not be to do many things and be in constant anxiety. This is a demonic condition.

The Elder implies a distinction between the rational, calculating mind and the mind that together with the heart seeks and rests with God.
When monastic handicrafts are made with peace of mind and prayer, they are sanctified and they also sanctify the people who use them. Then, it makes sense for lay people to seek these handiworks from us as a blessing. By contrast, any work made with haste and nervousness transmits this demonic condition to others. Work done with haste and anxiety is the mark of a very secular person. Instead of giving people a blessing, what these troubled souls impart on others with their handiwork is their troubled state. A person's state affects not only the work that he does, but also the materials, the wood that he is using! The final product of a man's work reflects his spiritual state. If he is upset and angry and swears, his work will not bring a blessing to others. But if he chants, if he says the Jesus Prayer, his work is sanctified. The first condition is demonic, the other is divine.
If you act with piety and pray while you are working, you are always sanctified and everything around you be-comes sanctified. When one has God in mind, his works and his handicrafts are also sanctified. Let us say, for example, that I am making a box while saying the Jesus Prayer; I am praying and at the same time working for the glory of God. My goal is not to make boxes, and to do it quickly, to produce a lot of them and end up full of anxiety. That would be a demonic state. We did not come to the Monastery for this. We came to be sanctified and to sanctify whatever we do. This is the reason why sometimes you feel like a good employee performing your assigned tasks; you get so busy running around, doing your job that you forget to take Christ with you. But if you begin your work with the Jesus Prayer, you will feel like a servant of Christ. So, if you want to be sanctified and to sanctify your work, make sure that you make the Jesus Prayer a part of everything you do. Do you know how abundantly God will bless you then, and how many good things and blessings He will send your way?

-        Geronda, when the task is mental, such as a translation, how can you possibly say the Jesus Prayer to sanctify the work you are doing?
-        When the task requires mental concentration, your work will be sanctified when your mind is focused on God. Then you will be living in the atmosphere of God, even if you are not able to say the Prayer. When one reaches a spiritual state, he is greatly helped by this. He does not attempt to understand the meanings of words based on reason alone, but gets to know them by divine illumination.
-        And what happens when I must undertake this type of work, but have not yet reached such a spiritual state?
-        In that case, you must still go ahead and do the work, but you need to pray and ask God to enlighten you. You must do your best to find help in these divine meanings (what divine illumination allows) and to work with piety. Make sure that you take a short break every one or two hours and say the Jesus Prayer.
-        Geronda, especially in translation work, one has many distractions. We must consult dictionaries, read commentaries...
-As I have already said in the past, what helps in transla-tion work is to live on a daily basis with purified thoughts that make a person a receptacle of Grace. Then divine in-terpretation will come from divine illumination and not from the mind, the dictionary, or the pen. What I am trying to say is that we must rely on the divine rather than the hu-man (on what comes first, not on what comes second).


Too Many Worries Make People Forget God
— Geronda, does worrying about too many things take us away from God?
- Look, let me try to explain. When a little child is playing and is all absorbed with his toys, he is not aware that his father may be next to him caressing him. If he interrupts his play a bit, then he will become aware of his father's caresses. Similarly, when we are preoccupied with too many activities and are anxiously concerned about them, when we worry too much about worldly matters, we cannot become aware of God's love. God gives but we do not sense it. Be careful not to waste your precious energy on redundant worries and vanities, which will rum to dust one day. When you do this, you not only tire your body, but you also scatter your mind aimlessly, offering God only your fatigue and yawns at the time of prayer - much like the sacrifice offered by Cain. It follows that your inner state will be like that of Cain's, you will be full of anxiety and sighs provoked by the devil standing by your side.


We must not waste aimlessly the fruit, the inner core of our power and then leave the shells for God. The many cares of life sap the marrow of our heart and leave nothing for Christ. If you notice that your mind constantly wanders off to various chores that you have to do, you must realize that you are not doing well spiritually, and this should alarm you because you have distanced yourself from God. You must realize that you are closer to material things than you are to God, closer to creation
than to the Creator.


Many times, unfortunately, even a monk will be de-ceived, and draw a worldly form of pleasure from his work. It is in man's nature to do good because his Creator is good. But the monk is striving to transform himself from a human being into an angelic being. This is why when it comes to material things, his work must be limited to the bare necessities, so that he will have time for spiritual work. Then, the joy that he feels will come from the fruit of his spiritual labour; it will be a spiritual joy, abundant nourishment for himself and for everybody else.

Those who work too hard and are full of worries forget God. Father Tychon  used to say, "The Pharaoh gave the Israelites too much work and just enough food to forget God." In our days, the devil has made people lose themselves in matter and all kinds of distractions; they work too much and they eat too much. This way they come to forget God,  and they lose the ability or rather the will, to make good use of the freedom given to them, and sanctify their soul. Fortunately, however, and against the devil's desires, there is a good side to this; people are so busy that they don't have enough time to sin as much they would have liked to.
Too Much Work and Worry Is the Mark of a Secular Monk


It is advisable for people who wish to live spiritually, especially monastics, to avoid certain pursuits, which obstruct them from their spiritual goal. They should not get involved in endless tasks, for there is never an end to work. If monks or nuns do not learn to do the internal, spiritual work, they will seek to escape in external activities. People who attempt to complete endless tasks will end their lives with all kinds of spiritual imperfections and while, when they reach the end of their road, they will repent for having done so, it will be too late because their "passport" will have already been issued. After all, it's necessary to take time off from work, even for a short while.
When we reduce the number of our chores, there will come, naturally, a bodily rest and a thirst for inner spiritual work, which comforts and never tires us. Then the soul will breathe an abundance of spiritual oxygen. Fatigue from spiritual work does not make us tired; instead, it rests and refreshes us, because it lifts us and brings us closer to our Loving Father, where our soul rejoices.


When physical fatigue lacks a spiritual sense, or rather, when it is not the result of a spiritual need and therefore justified, it rouses anger in man and makes him rough. Even the most tamed and good tempered horse, when over-worked, will start kicking and developing a bad temper, despite the fact that normally they are sup¬posed to become more gentle with age.


There are some things that can always be left out, so that spiritual matters may take precedence. Too much work and too many worries will make a monk secular, and give him a secular sensibility. His life will then be full of stress and secular anxiety and he will experience in this life a portion of hell, endless cares, worries and disasters. But when the monk has no concern for material things and is instead mindful only of his salvation and the salvationof all human beings, then he has God as his Steward and men as his helpers.
Do you remember the incident with Father Gerondios  and his spiritual son? Father Gerondios had asked the Panaghia to provide some water for him and his disciple to drink, and the Panaghia, like the good Mother that She is, opened a crack in the rock wall of the asketerio  from which holy water gushed out for them to drink. Later, the young monk began gathering stones and soil near the spring and building terraced gardens. He became so busy with construction, that he neglected his spiritual duties. But the water was not enough for all these works, and so he took a chisel and widened the crack so that more water would come out. The Panaghia then dried out thai spring and caused the water to flow at a point much lowei from the asketerio, as if She were telling him, "If yot want gardens and distractions so badly, go and carry the water from afar."
Distractions and Spiritual Parasites Go Hand in Hand
-        Geronda, weren't you upset when, after having laboured hard to set up one Kelli, you would leave it and go elsewhere?
- I would not have left without serious reason.
-        And everywhere you went you did only the necessary things?

- Yes, I did only the necessary things for down here, so that I would have time to do the necessary things for up there, for Heaven. If you lose yourself in earthly pursuits, you will also lose your way to Heaven. You do one thing, and then you want to do yet another and another. And if you get stuck in this gear, you've lost your way! Lose yourself in the world and you will lose Heaven. As our heavenly pursuits are endless, so too are the affairs of life here on earth. You have a choice: either you get lost on earth or you get "lost" in Heaven. Can you imagine what it means to lose yourself in heavenly pursuits? Oh, how I would be absorbed by the Jesus Prayer! Has that ever happened to you?
When we work too hard and in a hurry, the result is fatigue and distraction, and neither will help us in the spiritual life. For they displace our vigilance and agitate our soul. Under such conditions, one is not only incapable of praying, but he cannot even think. He cannot act with prudence and therefore his actions are not right.


So be careful not to waste your time aimlessly, leaving no time for your spiritual life, because you will reach a point of being so agitated inside that you will no longer be able to do your spiritual chores. Instead, you will try to get involved with some work, or start a conversation, or even look to create a problem to keep you busy. When we neglect the Jesus Prayer and our spiritual duties, the enemy gets hold of our spiritual "heights" and he begins his assault from up there, using both our flesh and our mind as his weapon. Thus, he renders useless our physical and spiritual strengths, and by cutting off our communication with God, he leads our soul to be taken prisoner by the passions.


Father Tychon used to tell monks that they should live ascetically to free themselves from worldly cares, and not to work like labourers and eat like men living in the world. For the monk's labour is prostrations, fasting and prayers, not only for himself, but for all people, both living and dead; and then, he must also do some physical labour for the necessary things of this life, to avoid becoming a burden on others.


- Geronda, are distractions always an obstacle to the spiritual life?
- If you are preoccupied only with what is required by monastic obedience, even if you have some distractions here and there, you will not suffer any harm. If your concern for the service assigned to you in the Monastery, or for the help you provide to a Sister, does not exceed the appropriate limits, then your only desire will be for the Jesus Prayer and your help to others will be positive. But 

if you go beyond these limits and start adding distractions and spend your time on worthless things, then your mind will scatter and depart from God. How can one experience the joy of God when his mind is not focused on Him? It's easy for the heart to grow cold. When, for instance, I happen to have visitors, even though my work is still spiritual, at the end of the day, I feel that my heart is not the same as when I have prayed all day long. The mind is filled with all sorts of things and it's so difficult to remove them. Whenever you can, throughout the day, try to say the Jesus Prayer mentally and also to chant in a low voice.


A little spiritual reading, especially before prayer, is very helpful. It warms the soul and dispels the distractions of the day. And then, when the soul is freed and taken to the divine realm of the spirit, the mind moves without distractions. When we read a chapter from the Gospels or a passage from the Gerontikon, which is short but powerful, the mind is transported to the spiritual realm and stays there. You see, the mind is like a lively child, running about in constant play. But when you entice it with something sweet, it does not leave anymore.


Where distractions and worries are removed, inner peace and spiritual success will follow. Too many worries will distance people from God. Distractions go hand in hand with spiritual parasites and the static can get so bad that spiritual wireless radios will not give a clear signal. A monk who does not lead a spiritual life has no excuse. Look at the poor people who live in the world and still try to lead spiritual lives. The monk has none of their worries; neither rent, nor debts nor keeping a job is on his mind. And he has his Spiritual Father close by, ready and available; the Church is right in the Monastery. Prayer Services, Holy Unction, Supplication Services, and Divine Liturgies - it's all there for him. A monk enjoys a carefree life and his only concern is how to live an angelic life; he has no other goal. By contrast, a layperson has so much to care about! He must nurture and raise his children and, at the same time, he has to struggle for the salvation of his soul. Elder Tryfon   used to say, "Does the monk want to attend a vigil? He can do it. Does he want to fast? He can do it. He has no wife and children. The layman, however, cannot. He has children
If someone is born a fool, it is a blessing from God. She enters directly into the next life without having to pass any examinations. But if she is gifted with an intelligent mind and yet lives a foolish life, she will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment.


Can you see in the case of Martha and Mary, mentioned in the Gospel," how mindless care for things caused Martha to behave somewhat impudently? It seems that in the beginning Mary was actually helping her, but when she realized that Martha was nowhere near completing her preparations, she left her and went to listen to Jesus. She thought to herself, "Am I to lose time with my Christ for the sake of Martha's salads and sweets?" As if Christ had come to their home to taste Martha's salads and foods! It was then that Martha became annoyed and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Let us be careful, then, not to behave like Martha. Let us pray that we will become good "Marys".
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