Tag Archives: Spiritual Illness

St. Nikolai: On the Prayer of the Publican (I)

Publican and Pharisee Zoom Pharisee“God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” A sinful man
dares to say this, in church, to God’s face! What is the Church, if not a place where the sick meet their physician? Those sick from sin come  to confess their sickness to God the Physician, and to find medicine and healing from Him who is the true Healer from all human suffering and weakness, and the Giver of all good things. Do the healthy go to hospital, to boast of their health to the doctor?

But this Pharisee did not come to the Temple with a whole and healthy soul, to boast of his health, but as a man seriously ill with unrighteousness who, in the delirium of his sickness, no longer knows he is ill. Once, when I was visiting a mental hospital, the doctor took me in front of a wire screen across the cell of the most seriously ill of his patients. “How do you feel?”, I asked him. He immediately replied: “How do you think I feel, among all these madmen?”Book St Nikolai Homilies

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: The Gospel on True and False Prayer” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

St. John Chrystostom: Be ashamed when you sin, not when you repent.

[Meme John Chrysostom Be ashamed when you sin not when you repent]Do not be ashamed to enter again into the Church. Be ashamed when you sin. Do not be ashamed when you repent. Pay attention to what the devil did to you. These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame  and repentance possesses the courage.[Book Chrysostom On Repentance and Almsgiving]

+ St. John Chrystotom, Homily 8, On Repentance and Almsgiving (Fathers of the Church Patristic Series)

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . if we undertake to cure ourselves, then we will be able to do something about it.

Icon of St. Theophon the Recluse“If [the disease of sin] is natural, then it cannot be cured. Thus it would remain always, no matter how hard you worked to rid yourself of it. If you accept this thought, you will lose heart, and say to yourself: this is how it is. For this is that woeful despair, which, once it has been introduced into people, they have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness (Ephesians 4: 19).

“I shall repeat again: Maintain the conviction that our disorderliness is not natural to us, and do not listen to those who say, ‘It is no use talking about it, because that is just how we are made, and you cannot do anything about it.’ That is not how we are made, and if we undertake to cure ourselves, then we will be able to do something about it.”

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It

St. Theophan the Recluse: Woe to those who are rich . . .

Gold Riches WealthWoe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is com­pletely opposite to what people usu­ally think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and in­sulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labors. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medi­cines. The Savior Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross — why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arro­gance, splendor, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Ev­eryone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heav­en; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

For the 19th Monday after Pentecost; Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30

St. Macarius: Difference between bodily and spiritual sickness

Photo of St. Marcarius of OptinaThe soul is greater than the body: the body becomes sick, and with that it is finished. But a spiritual sickness extends into eternity. Deliver us, O lord, from such illness, and grant us healing.

St. Macarius, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Yes, the two men of the Gadarenes were possessed with devils. They were not common maniacs . . .

Jesus Gadarene Demon“Yes, the two men of the Gadarenes were possessed with devils. They were not common maniacs, nor persons with a disordered function in the cerebral region ; for they knew, while the inhabitants of that country did not know, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The devils knew that a time was coming when their freedom, which they abused and made such evil use of, would be checked. The devils would not give up the darlings which so readily gratified their passions. It was torment for them when the merciful Lord liberated poor mankind. The two unfortunate ones, that were possessed by demons were exceeding fierce so that no man could pass by that way. If the evil spirits torment those whom they  possess in such a horrible manner, then what must be the suffering of sinners in hell, where they are bound in company of the devils for all eternity?”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

 

St. Isaac the Syrian: The fact that a man slips into accidental sins . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“The fact that a man slips into accidental sins demonstrates the weakness of his nature; for to our profit God has permitted our nature to be susceptible to sinful occurrences. For He has not thought it good to make the soul superior to these occurrences before the second regeneration. It is profitable for the soul to be susceptible to accidental sins because this pricks the conscience. To persist in them is, however, audacious and shameful.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 6: That to Our Profit God Has Permitted the Soul to Be Susceptible to Accidents, and on Ascetical Activities,” The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Maximos the Confessor: Sometimes men are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress . . .

St. Maximos the Confessor 10“Sometimes men are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress or by physical suffering. By means of His prescriptions the Physician of souls administers the remedy according to the cause of the passions lying hidden in the soul.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 2.44, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

Archbishop Averky: Excerpt from “Wherein Lies Life Greatest Evil” about the Healing of the Paralytic

Icon of the Healing of the ParalyticWith His one word alone, the Lord healed an invalid who had lain for 38 years near a healing pool, hoping to be made well, but vainly. And raising him up from his sick bed, He cautioned him respecting the future: “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (St. John 5:14).

With these portentous words, the Lord indicated that the cause of the unfortunate man’s fearful infirmities lay in the sins who had previously committed. In addition, he warned that sin inevitable brings with it not only such dire disease as paralysis, but even more dreadful ills.

“Sin no more!” — it is the words of Christ’s warning that should be the principle, founding motto, of our human existence. He who forgets this great God-given truth will have vainly wasted his efforts in making his own life as well as the lives of other people peaceful, joyous, prosperous, and happy. He who loves sinning will inevitable sooner or later fall prey to the oppressive affliction of the spiritual and physical feebleness. The sufferings of body and of soul will be his lot, and in the life hereafter — everlasting, unremitting torment.

Is it not in this position of the inform man, lying helplessly by the Sheep’s Gate pool, that all mankind finds itself today, madly rejecting Christ the Savior, refusing to acknowledge the existence of sin as such, and seeking various paths of life and salvation other than those which Christ, Our Lord, point out to us?

Sin reigns ruthlessly among the people of today, smiting both the body and soul with its death-wielding venom. And for so long as sin maintains its dominion, there can be no liberation or deliverance from the world from all the evils that best it, and it is even meaningless to talk of its prosperity and preservation.

It would seem that experience in life should long since have made this clear and comprehensible to everyone, but Alas! engulfed in the depths of sinful life, led about by diabolical pride and culpable self-love, self-confident people, who put their trust in themselves alone, easily forget the lessons which life itself teaches them, and no matter how many blows they receive in the course of their existence, whereby the Lord Himself instructs them, nevertheless it is frequent among them that, as God’s Word instructs us, “according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:22).

According to Church tradition, that is exactly what happened to the invalid upon whom the Lord had shed His bounty. He did not heed the warning, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” The lesson for the fourth week after Pascha, the week of the invalid, says that this infirm man, so wondrously healed by the Lord, was the very man who struck Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cheek during the trial before the High Priest (St. John 18:22), for which he obtained “a trial worse than the weakening of limbs”– that eternal fire, not for eight and thirty years alone, but unto time everlasting, should torment him.”

You see to what extreme can come to those who do not remember the mercy and generosity of God. Pride and sinful self-esteem can lead the person who is unmindful of himself to the state of a madman, acting rashly, and doom him forever! The desire to ingratiate someone, to gain someone’s favor, attention, and thereby some personal reward, frequently drives those who become infatuated with their sinful selves to such truly insane deeds that trail in their wake the most frightening and incorrigible consequences!

+ Archbishop Averky, “Wherein Lies Life Greatest Evil”

Holy Unction: . . . As often as thou fallest arise, and thou shalt be saved . . .

Icon of JesusO God great and supreme, Who art adored by all created beings, Fountain of Wisdom, Abyss of Goodness in very truth unfathomable, and Sea illimitable of loving-kindness: do Thou, the same Master who lovest mankind, the God of things eternal and of wonders, to the understanding of Whom none among men by taking thought can attain, look down and hear us, Thine unworthy servants, and wheresoever in Thy great Name we shall bring this Oil, send Thou down the gift of thy healing, and remission of sins: and heal him (her) , in the multitude of Thy mercies. Yea, O Lord Who art easy to be entreated; Who alone art merciful and lovest mankind; Who repentest Thee of our evil deeds; Who knowest how that the mind of man is applied unto wickedness, even from his youth up; Who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn again and live; Who for the salvation of sinners didst become incarnate, yet still remain in God, and didst Thyself become a created being for the sake of thy creatures; Thou hast said: I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; Thou didst seek the wandering sheep; Thou didst diligently seek out the lost piece of silver, and having found it, Thou didst say: He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out; Thou didst not abhor the sinful woman who washed Thy precious feet with her tears; Thou didst say: As often as thou fallest arise, and thou shalt be saved; Thou art He who didst say: There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth. Do Thou, O tender-hearted Master, look down from the height of Thy sanctuary, overshadowing us sinners, Who are also Thine unworthy servants, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, at this hour, and take up Thine abode in thy servant, N., who acknowledgeth his (her) iniquities, and draweth near unto Thee in faith; and accepting him (her), cleanse him (her) make him (her) pure from every sin; and abiding ever present with him (her), preserve him (her) all the remaining years of his (her) life; that, walking ever in Thy statues, he (she) may in no wise again become an object of malignant joy to the Devil; and Thy Holy Name may be glorified in him (her).

For Thy property it is to show mercy and to save us, O Christ-God; and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with they Father who is from every lasting, and Thine all-holy, and good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

+ Second Priest’s Prayer in the Office of Holy Unction