Thursday, September 10, 2015

Isn’t the present life a time for struggling?

Struggle, my child; isn’t the present life a time for struggling? Isn’t the life of every earthly man but a dream? Raise the noetic eyes of your soul and behold heavenly hosts of angels and archangels. Lift up the eyes of your mind higher and behold the blissful place of Lucifer, who was once a rising star, now empty. Oh, what a great destination! What a supremely holy calling! There, by the throne of God, souls will see the divine beauty of Christ and will be led up from knowledge to knowledge and from theoria to theoria with a superabundance of riches of divine grace! But in order to obtain these heavenly blessings, we must display bravery and mettle, and must engage in battles without turning our backs in defeat, keeping before us Jesus, Who said to us: “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33 ), and “The ruler of this world will be cast out” (Jn. 12:31 ). So, trusting in the invincible power of the crucified Christ, let us dedicate ourselves with simplicity to the struggle of the monastic life, and let us keep smothering the immaculate feet of our Savior with kisses, shedding tears of gratitude and joy. Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, etc.? (cf. Rom. 8:35 ). “I count all things as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8 ), cried out the mouth of Paul. Aren’t we obliged to imitate Paul and attain the same grace and love towards Christ that he had? Yes, but do we struggle as he did? Have we—have I –also gone through everything that he went through for his beloved Christ? No. This is why I am bare—or rather dressed in rags and covered with shame, and I am deluded, thinking that I am wearing a glorious diadem. Woe to me, woe to me the wretch! Who shall illuminate my darkness, so that I may see my wretchedness?

Elder Ephraim of Arizona