You are enduring terrible slander, as I hear. Accept what consolation I can offer.
1. Nothing happens to us without God; therefore, the wicked tongue also attacks us by the permission of God. For this reason be patient in the face of what God has sent. God hears the slander and also knows your conscience.
2. Be consoled by this -- that you are enduring false accusation. A clear conscience is consolation. It is better to be consoled by your conscience alone, even if the whole world slanders you, than to be accused by your conscience, when the whole world heaps praises upon you. This is my choice: let everyone slander me, if only my conscience will praise me. The conscience is a reliable witness that does not lie: it says what it sees and is silent about what it does not see. It stands alone against thousands of slanderers and offers a defense and consolation and, in time, shuts the mouths of the slanderers and covers them with shame.
3. You have many comrades in this misfortune. The saints of God endured much slander, and there are many who live now and who likewise suffer the same way. You are not the only one who suffers from this; many have traveled by this path and have made it smooth for us and summon us to come by the same path. Let us follow in their footsteps, that together with them we may glorify Jesus Christ Who redeemed us. O Jesus, attract us, weak and despondent to follow Thee and Thy saints.
4. Think on this and examine your conscience; have you not ever wounded anyone with your tongue? When this happens, then slander is punished by slander, and therefore endure with thanksgiving, that the sin be chastened here, so that he who committed the sin might be shown mercy later. "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world," says the Apostle (1 Cor. 11:32). O Lord, chasten us here, and have mercy on us there!
5. You see how God, with His mercy, turns to good that which Satan and the evil contrive for evil. Therefore, be calm now and console yourself, and forget all vanity.
6. Learn from this not to believe the gossip of others who spread slander. Just as you hear slander against yourself unexpectedly, so those concerning whom evil rumors are circulated often hear them unexpectedly, not even knowing what they are being accused of. Give thanks for this together with the prophet: "It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me" (Ps. 118:71). Read these points which I am sending, and you will discover what I mean. Work for your salvation and remember me, a sinner.
|Your well-wisher, Bishop Tikhon|