Wednesday, 7 November 2012

ELDER PAISIOS-Seek First the Kingdom of God

-Elder,Abba Makarios says our God gives us heavenly gifts,and this we believe.Should we believe He will also give us earthly gifts,which are not so important?
-What earthly gifts?
-Whatever we need.
-Yes,you put it well.God loves His creation,His image,and provides the things which man needs.

-Must everyone believe this and not worry?
-If one does not believe this and struggles by himself to acquire these earthly gifts,he will suffer.But even if God does not provide some of these earthly,material things,a person who is leading a spiritual life will not worry about it.If we seek first the Kingdom of God and this is our only concern,all the other things will be given to us,as well.Will God abandon His creation?The manna which God provided for the Israelites in the desert would spoil if they kept it for the next day.God arranged things this way so that the people would have confidence in His divine providence.
We have not yet understood the words of Jesus,Seek first the Kingdom of God.Either we believe or we don't.When I went to stay at Mount Sinai,I had nothing.But I didn't think at all what would become of me in the desert among strangers,what I would eat,how I would live.The ascetic cell of Saint Episteme, where I was to stay,had been abandoned and uninhabitable for years.As I didn't want to burden the Monastery of Saint Catherine,I didn't ask for anything.They brought me a little bread from The Monastery,but I returned it.Why should I be worried,when Christ said,Seek first the Kingdom of God.There was also very little water.I had no trade to work and earn my living.The only tool I had was a pair of scissors.I separated it in two,sharpened the two pieces on a stone,took a piece of wood and began making little carved wooden Icons.I worked and said the Jesus Prayer.Quickly I became experienced.I kept making the same design,and the work that would have taken me five days,I could now do in eleven hours,and not only did I help myself,but I also was able to help the little Bedouin children.
For a long time I worked on this task for many hours each day.Later I had reached a point where I did not want to continue with handicraft,but then I could see the need of the Bedouin children.If you gave them a cap and a pair of sandals,it was a great blessing for them.So, the thought came to me,"Did I come here to help the Bedouins or to pray for the whole world?"Thus,I decided to stop the work in order to be un-distracted and to pray more.And it wasn't as if I was expecting help from somewhere.The Bedouins did not even have enough to eat for themselves.The Monastery was far away.And in the opposite direction it was all desert.But on the same day when I cut back on the work to devote more time to prayer,someone came and found me at my cell and told me,"Here,take these one hundred liras to help the Bedouins without interrupting your program of prayer!"I could not bear this.I left my visitor alone and went into my cell for about fifteen minutes.The providence and the love of God had created such a spiritual state in me that I could not hold back my tears.
Do you see how God provides when there is good will?How much could I have possibly given them?I would give to one child and another would come to remind me."You didn't give me anything,Father"Then,yet another would come to say the same thing,"Father,you haven't given me anything!"

-Elder,while many times we have felt the omnipotence of God,why is it that we do not also see His divine providence for us?
-This is a trap of the devil.The devil throws ashes in man's eyes so he won't see God's providence.For when man sees the providence of God,his granite heart will soften,become sensitive and burst out in praise of God.and this is not what the devil wants.

Taken from ELDER PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS Spiritual Counsels Vol 2 "Spiritual Awakening

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