St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
From the Sayings of the Elder St. Porphyrios of Kapsokalyvia

On spiritual struggle

God has placed a power in man’s soul. But it is up  to him how he channels it – for good or for evil.  If we imagine the good as a garden full of flowers, trees, and plants; and the evil as weeds and thorns; and the power as water, then what can happen is as follows: when the water is directed towards the flower garden, then all the plants grow, blossom and bear fruit; and at the same time, the weeds and thorns, because they are not being watered, wither and die.  And the opposite, of course, can also happen.

It is not necessary, therefor, to concern yourselves with the weeds. Don’t occupy yourself with rooting out evil. Christ does not wish us to occupy ourselves with the passions, but with the opposite. Channel the water, that is, all the strength of your soul, to the flowers and you will enjoy their beauty, their fragrance and their freshness.

You won’t become saints by hounding after evil. Ignore evil. Look towards Christ and He will save you.  Instead of standing outside the door shooing the evil one away, treat him with disdain.  If evil approaches from one direction, then calmly turn in the opposite direction.  If evil comes to assault you, turn all your inner strength to good, to Christ.  Pray, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ He knows how and in what way to have mercy on you.  And when you have filled yourself with good, don’t turn any more towards evil.  In this way you become good on your own, with the grace of God.  Where can evil then find a foothold: It disappears!

All things are possible with Christ. Where is the pain and effort for you to become good?  Things are simple.  You will invoke God and He will transform things into good.  If you give your heart to Him, there will be no room for other things.  When you ‘put on’ Christ, you will not need any effort to attain virtue.  He will give it to you.  Are you engulfed by fear and disenchantment? Turn to Christ. Love Him simply and humbly, without any demand, and He Himself will free you.  Turn to Christ and say with humility and hope like Saint Paul, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  Turn towards Christ, therefore and He will come immediately. His grace will act at once.

Body and soul participate in the worship of God

Bodily exertion causes the body to protest and complain and react, but it is unable to make the soul lax in prayer.  You simply turn the radio up louder, you listen to the music, you enjoy it and you don’t hear the complaints.  I mean that by intensifying the prayer, the prayer neutralizes the weariness.  Before complaining about your bodily exhaustion, start praying, because when you complain grace departs and you are left with your own strength.  If you say ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ three times, you will continue joyfully.  God sees you and stretches out His hand to help you.  From that moment on, true communion with Him commences.

When bodily exertion – prostrations, vigils and sacrifices – takes place with love, with passionate eros, the body is not harmed.  When this effort is made freely and with love towards the loved one, towards Christ, you show how much you love Him.  No one takes account of exertion and fatigue for the person he loves.  For example, a monk climbs up and mountain, he struggles and sweats and tires himself out. ‘Why did you do it?’ people ask him. ‘For the person I love,’ he replies. ‘Because I knew that I would make him happy.’ The person with faith displays his love, his devotion and his adoration of Christ in tangible ways. That’s why bodily exertion is made.  That’s why we make prostrations. Not to gain anything, but because your love for Christ doesn’t allow you to do otherwise.

Wounded by Love, pp 135 & 168, 169