– Well, of course… to happiness, too; the Savior handed us down His teachings and in addition to the fact that one must be «poor in spirit», He also told us what that entailed, to encourage us.
– Poor in spirit – does that mean stupid?
– Not stupid — humble! By the way, did you know that in the older editions, «humble» was actually termed «stupid»?
– Why stupid? Do stupid people have fewer ideas?… Are they less…?
– No!… They would use that term for a person who is more innocent… not stupid.
– More like children?
– Yes. You see? For that is what humble means. If a person is humble and someone else «pushes him around», he keeps quiet. He will keep to himself, he won’t go beyond his «boundaries». That is humility; the art of “knowing your place”, of limiting yourself to who you are. Why would you «step out» of it? You see what I mean? That is what «poor in spirit» means – humble by all means.
– Yes. But then He says…
– The Saviour had that quiet kind of behaviour. A brother once went to a Father who lived in the desert – who was a fallen man – to live beside him, although he knew about the elder’s state. And that Father would beat him up. Another another hermit saw what was going on and said to himself: “Either the apprentice is insensitive, or he is a great practicing monk”, as he could clearly see that the brother was in pain. So the Father would beat him up and the brother would keep quiet, he would just suffer through it all. One day, this other hermit went to him and asked him some questions, to test him. He asked him:
“Brother, haven’t you received any wreathes today?” “No, Father, I haven’t – but I have received another beating though.” He showed him his bruises… and when the hermit saw that the brother was all too aware of what was going on, he realized that the brother was “poor in spirit”. You see? So there. But where do you think this brother sat, on the scale of the practicing monks? He was on top of that ladder… He was not stupid…
– He was spiritually high!
– Well, yes, of course – but humble. This man would humble himself. Another one did the same thing – only this man was very sinful – thinking the same thing: “Let me go to a bad Father”, because he wanted to suffer and “sacrifice” himself. And in the meantime he was praying, asking God to be able to fulfill all his duties next to that Father. And [he found him] and the situation was similar; the Father would torment him and beat him up. Now another neighbouring hermit had a vision of a very long list of sins that this brother had, some of which were erased by half, while others were still visible. So they were that brother’s sins. The hermit went to him and told him: “Oh, my brother, you have yet another period like this one, to go through. Go on, don’t give up!” Which meant that the brother was to go through a period that would equal the first one, since the hermit had seen that only half of his sins had been erased. And the brother replied: “Alright, Father, I will not give up.” You see, these were humble people, who would carry their cross. Moreover, Christ Himself humbled Himself.
They say a stranger once knocked on our Saviour’s door. “Who is there?” The man answered: “It’s me, Your greatly practicing monk”. “I won’t let you in”, the Saviour replied. And the monk was wondering – he had been honest, he had worked hard… “Why hasn’t He received me?!” He reanalyzed himself and then went back and knocked at the door again. “Who is there?” He said: “It’s You!” “If you are Me, come in, then! For now you are as humble as I am.” The first time, he had presented himself: “It’s me!”. I mean, who was he, when God astonished the heavens, the angels, with His humility? We do not have enough words to hope to describe Christ’s humility.
Excerpt from the book “Iată Duhovnicul: părintele Arsenie Papacioc” (“Behold the Confessor: Fr. Arsenie Papacioc”)