SAYINGS OF ELDER PAISIOS
" We went through fire and water..."
The crosses of ordeals
I have always on me the small cross you gave me, O Elder, and it helps me to overcome difficulties.
Yes, these small crosses are our crosses. Like the ones we wear around our necks and protect us in our lives. What do you think? Do we bear a big cross? Only Christ's Cross was very heavy because Christ did not want to use for Himself His divine strength out of love for us, the people. Moreover, he bears the weight of all the crosses of the world and disburdens us from the pains of the ordeals with His divine help and His sweet comfort.
Good God provides each person with a cross relevant to their strength; the idea is not suffering but the ascent from the cross to Heaven – because in reality the cross is a stairway to Heaven. If we realise what treasure we are saving from the pain of ordeals, we will not groan, but praise God bearing the small cross he gave us as a gift. Thus, we will enjoy this life and we will receive pension and "gratuity" in the other one. God has secured our reward in Heaven. If we ask to be relieved from an ordeal, then He gives the reward to someone else and we lose it. Whereas, if we are patient, He will gives us interest as well.
The people who suffer here are blessed because the more they suffer in this life, the more they are helped in the other, because they are paying off sins. The crosses of ordeals are higher than the "talents", the gifts, that God offers us. The person that bears not only one but five crosses is blessed. An ordeal or a martyrical death is also a clear reward. Thus, we should say for every ordeal: "Thank you God, because this is what was needed for my salvation."
The ordeals help people recover
I hear, O Elder, about the sufferings of my people. Will their hard times ever end?
Be patient, my sister, and never lose your hope to God. As I understood from all the ordeals that your people are going through, God loves you and allows all these ordeals so that the whole family will shine spiritually. If we look into the ordeals from a secular point of view, you look unhappy. If we look into the ordeals from a spiritual point of view, you are happy and the people that are considered happy in this life will envy you in the other one. Thus, your parents are also disciplined as they do not know or do not understand the dignified, the spiritual way. There is a mystery hidden, though, in the ordeals inflicted on your family, as well as in other families, although there is so much prayer! " Who knows the wills of God?" May God help and end the ordeals.
Isn't there another way, O Elder, so that people can recover? Only the ordeals?
Before God allows the advent of an ordeal, He has used the good way, but He is not understood. This is why, afterwards, he allowed the ordeal to come. You see, when a child does not behave properly, the father in the beginning tries to approach him/ her in a good way and he does all the favours. But if the child does not change, then he treats him/ her strictly in order to recover. God does the same. When someone does not understand through the good way, God gives them an ordeal so that they can recover. If there were not a little pain, illnesses etc, people would become wild beasts. They would never approach God.
This life is short and false; its years are few. And this is good because the bitter things, which treat our souls like bitter medicines, will pass quickly. You see, the doctors give the poor ill people that are in pain bitter medicine, because they will be cured by taking the bitter one and not the sweet. What I want to say is that health springs from bitter and the salvation of the soul springs from bitter.
When in pain, Christ visits us
The man that does not wish to suffer ordeals, does not wish to hurt, to experience discomfort, does not want others to make him sad or make a remark about them, but the only thing that he wants is to have a good time lives in an unreal world. " We went through fire and water and you led us to a place of rejoice," says the Psalmist.
You see our Mother of God suffered, our Saints suffered and this is why we have to suffer as we follow the same path. The difference is that when we suffer a little in this life, we pay our bills and we are saved. Christ came to earth through pain. He came from Heaven, was incarnated, suffered, was crucified. The Christian now feels Christ's visit in this way, through pain.
When pain visits man, then Christ visits man. Whereas, when man does not undergo any ordeal, it is as if God has abandoned him. There is neither payment of bills nor saving. I refer of course to the person that does not want to suffer for the love of Christ. He says: "I am healthy, I have my appetite, I eat, and I have a good time, quiet…" and does not say "Glory be to God". If they, at least, recognise all these blessings of God, it is something. "I was not worthy of all these things," this person must say, "but God provides for me because I am weak." It is mentioned in the life of St. Ambrosios that the Saint was once put up along with his companions at the house of someone rich. Upon seeing the fabulous riches, the Saint asked him whether he had experienced some kind of grief. "No, never," he answered. "My riches are on the increase, my land flourishes; I suffer no pain and I have never seen any illness." Then the Saint said to his entourage: "Prepare the coaches to get quickly out of here. This man was never visited by God!" And when they were on the street, the house of the rich man subsided! The good time was the abandonment of God.
"For whom the Lord loveth, he reproves"
Why does the world suffer so much today, O Elder?
Due to God's love! As a nun, you get up in the morning, you attend your canon, you say your rosaries, you do your prostrations etc. The difficulties the secular people suffer are their canons; they are purified through them. They do more good to them than the secular good time that helps them neither approach God nor save a heavenly reward. They must accept them, therefore, as gifts from God.
The Good God educates His children as a good Father through the ordeals because of love, divine goodness and not because of malice or secular, legal, justice. He wants them to return to Him. As He wants to save the beings He created so that they become heirs to His Heavenly Kingdom, he allows the ordeals so that man can fight and take exams in how patient he is in the ordeals. The devil cannot, therefore, tell Him: "Why do you reward him or why do you save him? He did not labour!" God is not interested in this life, but in the other. He looks after the other life first and then this.
But why, O Elder, does God give many ordeals to some people and not to others?
What does the Bible say? " For whom the Lord loveth, he reproves". Let's say that a father has eight children. Five of them stay at home, near their father, and the other three go away and not even think about him. If the ones that stay with him get into mischief, he slaps them slightly on the face or if they are good, he caresses them, he gives them a bar of chocolate. The ones that are far away experience neither the slap nor the chocolate. This is the way of God. If the people that are near Him and the ones that have good intentions make a small mistake, He slaps them on the face slightly and this is their pay-off or if He slaps them more, they save for later. On the other hand, He gives years to the ones that are away from Him so that they can repent. This is why we see secular people who, despite their serious sins, have plenty of material goods and live for many years without suffering any ordeal. This is done on God's sufferance so that they can repent. If they do not repent, they will be without a hearing in the other life.