What I mean by that is that type of suffocating love, where one “takes possession” of one’s fellowman, and which starts to “model” everyone else according to oneself. I think that we have all done such things: for instance, parents who love their children to the point where children, when they grow up, they don’t know how to escape from their parents’ tyranny – which isn’t true tyranny, but which can be perceived as such in the other one’s heart. Therefore, one first misunderstanding, one first “hazard” of love is that of us acting like people who actually know what real love is about and who therefore think they can – or even must – impose it to others.
Love – says Apostle Paul – bears all things, believes all things, forgives all things. Loves does not get puffed up, seeks not her own, does not vaunt itself; love never fails. So in order for us not to get lost in our own deformed understanding of love, the Apostle lists the signs of true love: that is, to be near the other one as if you were not. Love does not seek her own. Every time we love, we restrain the other one’s space.
That kind of love never bears fruit. But humility has always convinced one. It has even convinced tyrants, many times.
(A fragment from a lecture by Hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi – “On the Hazards of Love”. Arad, Romania, Dec. 13, 2007)
– You can, if you want. You cannot do anything, if you don’t want to. Love thy neighbour! Well, not like you would love your own wife and children – nobody asks you that. But don’t harm him. THAT is an act of love. Because you don’t realise – if you want to shake heaven and earth, how much power lies in the simple fact of saying: “God, please forgive him!”
Everyone will realise then how important it is for one not to hate, in this world. If you can help someone – and also feel sorry for your own lack of control and proper Christian attitude – then fine. Continue reading →
Another case – which was just as frightful – involved a man who was ill and whom we had hosted at our monastery for three days, to attend the Holy Oil service. His wife had told us about some heavy sins that he had done in his life. For three days, we asked him to confess to whatever confessor he wanted – since we had several of them -, gently and patiently explaining to him that God had left us the power to forgive sins through confession. Yet he would not hear about any of that.
On the third day, at night, while we were at the Holy Oil service, he started to howl, literally, all of a sudden, saying that these frightful dark creatures were coming to take him away and that he could see his own sins on them. Extremely terrified, he asked us to confess him right away (now he had become wise). So everyone else left the room where we were and in between shrill moanings, all he could say was: “…I have done… I have done…” and he died in my arms.
I said the forgiveness words more out of a feeling of pity for him, since it had been his last wish – but he was dead. This account was told and retold throughout that region for many years afterwards.
Now THAT is what doubt does – that guilty lack of faith and self-deception which makes one believe that upon one’s death, there will be no demons and no angels coming for your poor soul. What a source of anguish and fear during one’s last minutes on earth, at a time when peace is so necessary! And what things man does not expose himself to, if death takes him by surprise!
Excerpt from “Iată duhovnicul – părintele Arsenie Papacioc” (“Ecce the Confessor – Fr. Arsenie Papacioc“) – volume 2
Interview with Fr. Arsenie Papacioc of Techirghiol monastery, Romania
– What is prayer, Father?
– Prayer is, in fact, everything. Prayer is having your heart inside God’s heart. This is a sort of education that one must “impose” upon oneself – to be present with one’s heart inside God, no matter whatever else the person happens to be saying during that time. Prayer is deep silence and a state that surpasses human imagination. It is talking with God – but not with human words. It is something that goes completely beyond oneself. Prayer is necessary… prayer is our life (and by saying this last bit I’ve just “lowered” somewhat the level of our discussion here).
– Can man acquire prayer without having a Spiritual Father?