Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
I received your short letter and I share your pain. I brought to mind the image of how things are and, aware of my own wretchedness, sighed at the possibility of being saved. ‘Alas, Saviour of the world, I am overwhelmed by my iniquities and am unable to see. Hasten, as merciful, and make speed, as compassionate, to our aid, for you can do whatsoever you wish’.
My fragrant little petal, things seem to be the way they are as the result of some experience or other. But what is it that we want? This isn’t life, my child. It’s not just a long Lent, but also the whole length of our sojourn here. Let’s at least learn to make a new start. We have to begin again, in any case. Foreign languages, or any other particular occupation, aren’t the aim. The purpose is to build some kind of character, an experience, which is none other than a practical, Christian turnaround, which, in the future, without any effort or endeavour, will be the rule, the dogma of our life.
Unless you set this basis, this foundation, you can’t build, nor even stand on your own two feet. I’m afraid to describe the tragic effects of the consequences of a failed life without Christ. I didn’t say this before, because it would have been a bit beyond you, but now’s the time to do so. You might have said: ‘ I’m getting out of this prison, I’m throwing off this tyranny, I’ll live by myself’. Now that you are alone, you can see how weak you are. I don’t want to continue, because it’ll make you sad, and then my own pain would be beyond cure, because you know how very, very much I love you and care that you do well.
My child, wake up and don’t waste your time on stupid things! Make a plan and stick to it come what may. Neglect food and sleep for the sake of this plan, which is nothing other than Christian awareness. Always take into consideration ……. I say your name and am moved, because it’s my very soul, it’s me myself, as a servant and friend of Christ, as a citizen of Heaven. Don’t concern yourself with the vanity of the world, as a person living in this age! Because molehills become mountains and subjugation and contempt give rise to dryness and morbidity. This is the law of cause and effect! Somebody says ‘What does this, that or the next thing matter?’. But an inferno starts with a spark and the slightest thing can cause death!
My beloved offspring and the breath of my soul, I’ve said a great deal because it hurts me, not in order to chastise. But negligence doesn’t help, because it has consequences, and they’re tragic, at that. Do you know what’s about to happen in a little while? Who will save us then and where will we flee to? But is that all? At some point we’re going to die and then, according to Scripture, there’ll be the judgement. Make a deliberate plan for your life, so that you’ll not lose grace and illumination, so that you’ll succeed in life, with God’s blessing. This is impossible if you make concessions. If you hold this world in one hand and Christ in the other, you’re holding nothing! Think about everything we’ve said and may God give you understanding.
I always pray for you and follow what you’re doing, but my prayer won’t have any effect and will come back to me if you don’t stick to your plan. Because without the concept of the Cross, the Christian life has not meaning.
I embrace you, my lovely child, and I give you my paternal blessing, with all the power of my soul.
Your father, Iosif.
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