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Paradise Present.

The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit, and the man in whom the Holy Spirit lives feels that he has paradise within him.

Saint Silouan the Athonite

Perhaps you will say, 'Why is it I have not grace like that?' It is because you have not surrendered yourself to the will of God but live in your own way. Look at the man who likes to have his own way. His soul is never at peace and he is always discontented: this is not right and that is not as it should be. But the man who is entirely given over to the will of God can pray with a pure mind, his soul loves the Lord, and he finds everything pleasant and agreeable.

Thus did the Most Holy Virgin submit herself to God: 'Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.' And were we to say likewise—'Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word'—then the Lord's words written in the Gospels by the Holy Spirit would live in our souls, and the whole world would be filled with the love of God, and how beautiful would life be on earth! And although the words of God have been heard the length and breadth of the universe for so many centuries, people do not understand and will not accept them.

But the man who lives according to the will of God will be glorified in heaven and on earth.

The man who is given over to the will of God is occupied only with God. The grace of God helps him to continue in prayer. Though he may be working or talking, his soul is absorbed in God because he has given himself over to God's will, wherefore the Lord has him in His care.

There is a legend that a robber met the Holy Family when they were journeying into Egypt, but did them no harm; and when he saw the Child he said that were God to become flesh He would not be more beautiful than this Child. And he left them to go in peace.

What an astonishing thing that a robber, who like a savage beast spares no one, should neither annoy nor hurt the Holy Family! At the sight of the Child and His lowly Mother the robber's heart softened and was touched by the grace of God. Thus it was with the wild beasts who grew gentle when they saw martyrs and holy men, and did them no harm. And even devils fear the meek and humble soul who vanquishes them by obedience, soberness and prayer. Another thing to marvel at: the robber had pity on the Infant Lord, but the high priests and elders delivered Him to Pilate to be crucified. And this was because they did not pray and seek enlightenment of the Lord as to what they should do, and how. So it often happens that leaders and their people desire good but are ignorant where it is to be found. They do not know that it is in God, and comes from God.

We must always pray to the Lord to tell us what to do, and the Lord will not let us go astray.

Adam was not wise enough to ask the Lord about the fruit which Eve gave him, and so he lost paradise. David did not ask the Lord whether it would be a good thing if he took Bathsheba to wife, and so he fell into the sins of murder and adultery. So with all the saints who sinned: they sinned because they had not called upon God to enlighten and help them. St Seraphim of Sarov said, 'When I spoke of myself I was often in error.' But there are also sinless mistakes of imperfection: we can observe such even in the Mother of God. St Luke tells us that when she and Joseph were returning from Jerusalem she did not know where her Son was, supposing Him to be journeying with their kinsfolk and acquaintances, and it was only after they had searched three days that they found Him in the Temple at Jerusalem, conversing with the elders.

God is love insatiable.

Thus the Lord alone is omniscient, and each one of us, whoever he may be, must pray to God for understanding, and consult his spiritual father, that we may avoid mistakes. The Holy Spirit sets us all on different paths: one man lives a life of silent solitude in the desert; another prays for mankind; still another is called to minister to Christ's flock; to a fourth it is given to comfort or preach to the suffering; while yet another serves his neighbor by his goods or by the fruits of his labor—and all these are gifts of the Holy Spirit given in varying degrees: to one man thirtyfold, to another sixty and to some an hundred.

If we loved one another in simplicity of heart the Lord through the Holy Spirit would show us many miracles and reveal great mysteries.

How clear it is to me that the Lord steers us. Without Him we cannot even think a good thing. Therefore we must humbly surrender ourselves to the will of God, that the Lord may guide us.

+ Glory to God for All Things +

Saint Silouan the Athonite, was born in 1866, of devout parents who came from the village of Sovsk in the Tambov region. At the age of twenty-seven he received the prayers of St. John of Kronstadt and went to Mt. Athos where he became a monk at the Russian monastery St. Panteleimon. He received from the Holy Theotokos the gift of unceasing prayer, and was given the vision our Lord Jesus Christ in glory, in the church of the holy Prophet Elijah adjoining the mill of the monastery. After the withdrawal of that first grace, he was oppressed by profound grief and great temptations for fifteen years, after which he received from Christ the teaching, "Keep they mind in hell, and despair not." He reposed on September 24, 1938.

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