STORIES FROM THE
For praying and for psalms - just
like many other things - every moment is suitable, therefore we
should praise the Lord, not only by using our hands as we work, but
also with our tongue whenever we can, which is even more capable of
strengthening our faith. If, however, we cannot pray in a loud voice,
then let us praise the Lord within our hearts, with psalms and hymns
and spiritual odes as the Scriptures tell us; let us say our prayer
during our working hours : namely, we can thank Him for giving
strength to our hands for labouring, and for the mind's capacity for
science; for granting us the materials from which we made our tools,
and the materials which we use in our crafts, whichever they may be;
and to pray that the labours of our hands have no other purpose, than
to please God.
HOSIOS MARK THE
Whatsoever we may do without prayer
and guileless faith, will later prove to be harmful and imperfect.
Pray continuously for every single
thing, so that you do nothing without the help of God.
HOSIOS NEILOS THE ASCETIC
Entrust the needs of your body to
God, and then it will be obvious that you have also entrusted the
needs of your spirit to Him.
Is it perhaps we who have succeeded
in acquiring the necessary things in life ? It is God who looks after
our life. Man's attempts, if not aided by God, are doomed to fail,
while divine providence - even without man's cooperation - will
provide the perfect necessities. How did they benefit from their own
attempts, to whom God said "you have sown much, but gathered little,
and I have scattered even that, from your hands".
And which necessities were lacking,
to those who lived virtuously, without giving any thought to them ?
Didn't the Israelites live in the desert for forty years, without
any of those things which agriculture produces ? They did not lack any
sustenance whatsoever; indeed, the sea produced extraordinary
sustenance - quail; and the skies rained manna, an unusual and strange
rain. And the rock, which was absolutely dry, cracked open and gave
plentiful water. As for clothing and shoes, even these endured,
throughout all that time , because they did not suffer any wear.
And what agriculture gave sustenance
to Elijah, during the time he was in the ravine ? Didn't the crows
bring him food ? And when he went to Sarephtha , wasn't he given
bread by a widow, who took it from the mouths of her own children ? To
thus highlight how virtue is far more precious, even more than the
maternal instinct. (…….)
Why therefore do we dash to the
ground this heavenly lifestyle, and sink into material anxieties ? And
enrobe ourselves with manure, we, who once wore royal robes ?
As Jeremiah said, in his laments :
"when we reside within meanings bright and burning, we don royal
robes" and when we depart from this condition to participate in
earthly conditions, we dress ourselves with manure.
Why do we take our hope away from
God, and rely on our own hands and thus attribute God's providence
to our own powers ?
Job had cursed this stance, saying
that if he himself possessed it, it should be considered his greatest
sin; that is, to bring his own hand to his mouth, and to kiss it.
This is what we are
doing now, and yet we do not fear. Because most people are accustomed
to kissing their hands passionately, saying that they earn their
living with them. It is these people which the Law implies, when it
says "he that walks on his hands is unclean; and he that walks on
all fours, is thoroughly unclean". He that walks on his hands,
relies on his hands and places all his hopes on them; he that walks on
all fours, is he that agonizes over tangible things, and has his
attention focused on them perpetually.