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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letters of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi - 1


My dearest child, I send you my fatherly embrace.

I am pleased because you seem to sense my spiritual affection and love, so that you feel some comfort. I remain with you in spirit and I follow all your movements. I was so moved by the manifestation of your own affection that, if I could, I would come to see you in person, if even for a short while. But this affection is not the result of my own doing, since I am unworthy and insignificant, but of both your own faith and purity and that of my beloved son, who quietly fulfills all the conditions and rules of respect and obedience.

My daughter, my delight, do not be shaken by the events which happen around us, the so-called peirasmoi (trials, temptations), since there is no practical Christianity without them. You must learn that our lives are like a sphere which continuously turns round. In its path we find all the obstacles, and we, like students during exams, are called to the struggle. The sphere turns round and, therefore, we are waiting to see what the first manifestation will be, and then the next. 

If we are prepared for this game, just this discipline will open the way for the triumph, or at least it will minimize the impact of the clash. This is the chapter of the Sayings of the Fathers which they have entitled “If you wish to take your brother’s fault upon yourself, be ready to face temptation until your last breath”.

Nothing more and nothing less is going to happen except for that which our Christ orders for each one of us for our training and our benefit; the burden becomes greater only if we grumble. The person who believes in God must continuously struggle when various temptations strike, in order to convince all people, both the righteous and the unrighteous, that “he truly loves God and rightly detests the devil”. The only difference is that one day he will finally succeed.

The struggle, however, will last for the rest of our lives. The fact that the struggle continues is not a defeat, my dearest child, but an indication of one’s willingness to struggle. God’s Grace does not take away the struggle and the battle, so that the contestant may be glorified and exalted. Don’t you see how harshly our fathers have been tempted and struggled, beyond causes and reasons, even though they had been most pure in their intentions and their minds?

Every member of the Church is obliged to live for others as well, whether they are present or yet to come. Therefore, his conduct serves as a motive and example to future generations and he becomes a clear witness to them about our Church: that it is possible to practice Christianity, and that our Jesus is not just someone ”in those days”, but He is the same today and always.

As for us, our “adventures” have increased but unfortunately our commitments are never ending. In about a month we have the ordination of Fr Thomas to the diaconate in the main church of our Skete, and we must also complete the restoration of our buildings etc., etc., without end. However, we are used to being patient. Besides, we are now also realizing a palpable economic stability, thanks be to God.

So, even though you may accept me as foolish, being yourselves wise in all things, allow me to express my affection and love to my true children, whom , though Christ, I love so much.
Humbly, Elder Joseph

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