Fr. Andreas Agathokleous
The problems, sins and mistakes we have in our lives are many and various. At times a sense of disappointment weighs upon our hearts. We wonder whether this is how life’s going to continue. Is there any prospect of improvement? Will we ever see better days?
Speaking to his monks and nuns, Father Amilianos Simonopetritis [he was Abbot of Simonopetra and Spiritual Father of the women’s monastery which he founded at Ormylia] analyzed the homily by Saint Isikhios [Hesychius] on sobriety, saying: ‘Remembrance of the blessings, the love, the proximity and the power of God is the starting-point of hope and faith’.
These words touch our memory, take us back to our former life and activate what had been consigned to oblivion, to an unremembered realm. Because it is possible to remember those times when we knew the presence of God, when we felt his love, when his intervention in our difficulties was apparent.
Our life isn’t nothing but darkness. It’s not possible, for anyone, that there should have been no beautiful, happy, radiant experiences in which the grace of God was inherent. Recollection of these experiences leads to hope and faith. It revives within us the certainty that we’re not alone, that God loves us, that he’ll come again and change our circumstances.
The darkness within us is increased, however, if we fail to remember or lose awareness of God’s blessings. We feel alone, without any hope or light. This is why this state is considered to be spiritual death, hell, a mortal sin.
Remembrance of blessings or gratitude leads to a repetition of them. Nobody’s happy to give generously to people who are unappreciative or ungrateful, but they’ll be happy to continue to give to those who express their gratitude.
At difficult times, we need to find ways of being able to take a deep breath, to continue, to go on and, therefore, to live. A look back at the past, as remembrance of the blessings from God our Father, will give us hope and faith for the bright future which is coming.
The experience of the holy Fathers of the Church is a treasury for us, provided we put it into practice. We read it in their writings, where they record what they experienced empirically. In this way, supported by experience, as expressed in their teachings, we learn about the pitfalls of disappointment, sorrow and melancholy.
We see how easy it is for God to work for us, within us, if we invite him, through prayer, and if we entrust our life and those of our nearest and dearest to him.
Elder Amilianos also notes: ‘We have to remember the actions of God continuously if we always want to succeed: when we’re in pain, and when we cry and when we’re sick and when we’re well. We also have to be constantly aware of the power God gives us, as well as the decisions we’ve made before him, because our decisions are experiences, they’re features of our life’.