11.9 C
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
InternationalAbout miracles and signs (2)

About miracles and signs (2)

DISCLAIMER: Information and opinions reproduced in the articles are the ones of those stating them and it is their own responsibility. Publication in The European Times does not automatically means endorsement of the view, but the right to express it.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATIONS: All articles in this site are published in English. The translated versions are done through an automated process known as neural translations. If in doubt, always refer to the original article. Thank you for understanding.

The European Times News aims to cover news that matter to increase the awareness of citizens all around geographical Europe.

More from the author

Persecuted christians - Conference at the European Parliament about the persecution of Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa (Credit: MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen)

Break the silence on persecuted Christians

MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen held a conference and exhibition at the European Parliament to denounce the silence surrounding the suffering of persecuted Christians worldwide. The EU must take stronger action against violations of freedom of religion, especially in Africa where lives are lost due to this silence.

There was no vanity, no showiness in the miracles of the Lord, none of them was made for display to the people, all of them were covered with the veil of Divine humility. These miracles were essentially a chain of good deeds for suffering humanity. At the same time, they showed convincingly the power of the Creator over the material creation and over the created spirits, expressed and proved the dignity of God, accepted human nature, appeared as a man between the people.

One of the miracles of the Lord of mysterious significance was not accompanied by visible good deeds for a person, but it celebrates the good deed, ready to be poured out on all mankind. This is the miracle of the killing of the barren fig tree, rich only in leaves (Mark 11: 13-14, 20). This tree is mentioned in a candle. Scripture (Gen. 3: 7) among the trees of paradise in the account of the fall of the forefathers. It used them with its leaves to cover their nakedness, which the ancestors did not notice until the fall, and which sin revealed to them. Perhaps the fruit of the fig tree was the forbidden fruit. Coming out of Bethany, the Lord did not find fruit on the fig tree, but He did not look for it in time. This untimely desire for food of the flesh was an image of the wrong desire of the forefathers, which, like all other human infirmities, the Lord bore upon Himself and overcame. Not finding fruit, the Lord rejected the leaves and destroyed the existence of the tree completely: another tree, the tree of the cross, was already being prepared as an instrument for the salvation of men. And the tree, which became an instrument of human destruction, was killed by order of the Savior of men. The mysterious miracle was performed in the presence of only the closest followers of the mysterious teaching – the holy apostles. It was performed before the very beginning of the redemptive deed of the God-man for all mankind, before His ascension on the cross.

The miracles of the Lord had a sacred meaning, a sacred purpose. Although they were great good deeds in themselves, in regard to Divine providence they served only as a testimony and proof of incomparably higher good deeds. By accepting human flesh, the Lord brought to people an eternal, spiritual, priceless gift – salvation, healing from sin, resurrection from eternal death. The words of the Lord and the way of His life showed this gift quite convincingly: in life the Lord was sinless, universal (John 8:46), His word was full of power (Mark 1:42). But the people were deep in darkness and the fog of carnal wisdom, their hearts and minds blinded. It turned out that a special indulgence was needed for their painful condition. It turned out that they needed to be given the clearest, most obvious testimony of their bodily feelings, it turned out that through bodily feelings it was necessary to impart to them vital knowledge of the mind and heart, which were dead with their inherent death – eternal death. And in the help of God’s word God’s miracles were given. In order for people to understand and accept the spiritual gift, which could be seen only with the eyes of the soul, the Lord added to the eternal spiritual gift a temporary, bodily gift – healing of bodily human diseases. Sin is the cause of all human infirmities – both mental and physical, the cause of temporary and eternal death. By showing His authority over the consequences of sin in human bodies, the Lord has shown His authority over sin in general. Carnal wisdom sees neither mental infirmities nor eternal death, but sees bodily infirmities and bodily death, acknowledges them; they strongly influence and puzzle him. By healing with one commanding word, with one commandment all the sick, raising the dead, commanding unclean spirits, the Lord showed His authority, God’s authority over man, over sin, over fallen spirits, showed all this obvious to the bodily feelings, to the most carnal. wisdom. And this, seeing and feeling this authority, could and was obliged in logical sequence to acknowledge the authority of the Lord over sin and not only with regard to sin against the body, but also with regard to sin against the soul. It was to acknowledge the Lord’s authority over the soul itself, all the more so because in some of the Lord’s miracles, such as the resurrection of the dead, God’s unlimited authority over both body and soul was manifested. The body came to life, calling to it the soul that had already passed into the spiritual world, and when it returned, it united with the body with which it was already separated forever. The man was given signs in himself, not somewhere outside him. He was given evidence of his salvation in himself, not far from him. The testimony of the eternal salvation of soul and body was given through the temporary salvation of the body from bodily infirmities and bodily death.

When the miracles of the Lord are received correctly and piously, they turn out to be overwhelmed with Divine reason: the request for a sign from heaven turns out to be, whatever it really was, meaningless. There are rare cases when the power of the Lord was manifested outside man, over objects of material nature, but there have been such cases. They are a testimony that the Lord’s power over all nature is unlimited power, the power of God. These miracles complement the miracles that were good deeds to humanity in man himself, in order to most accurately determine the meaning that people were obliged to give to the appearing Redeemer of men. Since the purpose of the Lord’s coming to earth was the salvation of men, the Lord’s care was directed to man, to the most perfect creation of God, His image, His verbal temple. The land of our exile and suffering journey – the earth, all material creation, despite its imposingness – have been left without His attention. Although some miracles have been performed in material nature, they have been performed to meet human needs.

This is the meaning and purpose of the miracles performed by the Lord and His apostles. This is what the Lord has announced, this is what His apostles have announced. Once in the house where the Savior was, many people gathered. The house was full and a crowd gathered at the door; it was no longer possible to get inside. At that time, they brought a weakened man who could not get up from the stretcher. The people who carried it, seeing the many people and the crowd, put the sick man on the roof, made an opening and lowered the stretcher before the Lord. Seeing this manifestation of faith, the merciful Lord said: Child, your sins are forgiven. Some of the scribes stood there. As if they knew the law by letter and were filled with envy and hatred for the God-man, it immediately occurred to them that He had uttered blasphemies. Who can forgive sins but God? You thought. The Lord of the hearts, seeing their thoughts, said to them: What do you think in your hearts? Which is easier (according to your understanding) to say to the weak: are your sins forgiven, or to say get up, take your bed and walk? A hypocrite and a deceiver can say without proof “your sins are forgiven.” But in order to know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sins (he says to the weak) I tell you: get up, take your bed and go home. The weakened man was instantly healed, strengthened, took his bed, and went out before all (Mark 2: 2-12). This miracle is filled with Divine wisdom and kindness. First, the Lord gives the sufferer a precious spiritual gift, invisible to the eyes of the flesh: forgiveness of sins. But giving the gift led Jewish scholars to believe that such a gift could only be given by God. In response to their heartfelt thought, the Lord gives them new proof of Himself that He is God: the spiritual gift and the spiritual proof are confirmed by a material gift and proof – the instantaneous and complete healing of the sick. Concluding his Gospel, St. Eph. Mark says that after the Lord’s ascension, the apostles preached everywhere, and the Lord helped and sustained the word with figures from which it was accompanied (Mark 16:20). This thought was also expressed by all the apostles in the prayer with which they turned to God after the threats of the Sanhedrin, which forbade them to study and act in the name of Jesus: Give to Your servants Yours for healing, and miracles and signs to take place in the name of Your Holy Son Jesus (Acts 4: 29-30). God’s signs were given as assistance to the word of God. The signs testified to the power and significance of the word (Luke 4:36). And the real perpetrator is the word. Where the word is accepted, signs are not necessary, because of the perceived dignity that the word contains. Signs are condescension to human weakness. In one way the word works, in another the sign. The word acts directly on the mind and heart, the sign acts on the mind and heart through bodily feelings. The consequences of the influence of the word are stronger, more definite, than the consequences of the action of the signs.

When both the word and the sign act together, then the action of the sign seems to go unnoticed due to the strong action coming from the word. This is clear from what is said in the Gospel. Nicodemus had signs, and he knew in the Lord only the Master sent by God (John 3: 2). On St. Apostle Peter’s word worked, and he confessed the Lord as Christ, the Son of God. You have words of eternal life, he told the Godman, and we believed and knew that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6: 68-69). St. an. Peter was an eyewitness to many of the Lord’s miracles – the gathering of the crowd had just been satisfied by multiplying the five loaves – but in his confession the apostle was silent about the miracles, speaking only of the power and action of the word. The same thing happened later with the two disciples, who did not know the Lord when they talked to Him on the road to Emmaus, but realized that He was only after he arrived in the village, at home, when the bread was broken. Only they knew the Lord, and He became invisible. They said nothing about the astonishing miracle, but turned their full attention to the action of the word. Didn’t our hearts burn in us – they told each other – when He spoke to us on the way and when He explained the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32)

The God-man has favored those who have not seen signs and have believed (John 20:29). He expressed sympathy for those who were not satisfied with the word and needed miracles. If you do not see signs and wonders, you will not believe (John 4:48), He told the Capernaum nobleman. This is said in the most accurate way – those who leave the word and seek to be convinced by miracles are unfortunate. In this need is manifested the special predominance of carnal wisdom, the gross ignorance of a life sacrificed to corruption and sin, the lack of experience in studying God’s law and godly virtues, the inability of the soul to feel partakers of the Holy Spirit, to feel His presence and action in the word. The signs were intended primarily to persuade and convert carnal people engaged in worldly care. Stuck in the pursuits of life, constantly fixing their souls on earthly problems, they were unable to appreciate the true dignity of the word. The Merciful Word attracted them to the salvation bestowed by the word, by means of visible signs, which, having material persuasion acting through the senses, led the weak soul to the almighty, saving Word. Believers, because of signs, formed the lower class of believers in Christ. When they were offered the spiritual, supreme, all-holy doctrine, many of them interpreted it according to their understandings (John 6:60), did not want to ask God for an explanation of God’s word, but condemned the word, which is Spirit and Life. (John 6:63), and thus showed their superficial faith, their superficial heartfelt disposition. Then many of His disciples, witnesses of many signs, turned back and did not walk with Him (John 6:66).

Neither the word nor the signs of the God-man had a beneficial effect on the Jewish high priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, although, with the exception of the latter, they all knew the law very well by letter. Not only were they alien to God and hostile to Him because of the sinful contagion common to all mankind, but they became such, established and established themselves in this position because of their own will, out of high opinion of themselves, because of the desire to succeed in this life – something that the Gospel forbade. They could not listen to the Son of God when he spoke to them, did not listen to His words properly and did not pay attention to what was said, but perceived only what seemed appropriate to them to interpret it in their own way and accuse the Lord with it. This is how hatred is usually adjusted to the words of the one we hate. Why do you not understand My speech? Said the Savior to His enemies, who stubbornly and fiercely rejected the salvation offered to them. – Why don’t you understand My teaching? Why do you not accept My healing word? Because you cannot listen to My word (John 8:43) – it is unbearable for you. Because you are children of falsehood, and follow it, you do not believe Me, for I speak the truth (John 8:45). He who is of God listens to God’s words. Therefore you do not listen, because you are not of God (John 8:47). If I do not the works of my Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe in Me, believe the works, that you may understand and believe that the Father is in me and I am in Him (John 10: 37-38). In vain were the words, which, as the truth of God, contained in themselves complete authenticity (John 8:14). In vain were the miracles, which also contained complete authenticity, which were so tangible and obvious that even the enemies of the God-man, in all their desire and effort to reject them, could not fail to acknowledge them (John 9:24). . The means that worked for people who did not know God’s law or knew very little about it, who lived with earthly cares and vanity, but did not reject God’s law by their own will (by the expression of their free will), the same means had no effect to those who know God’s law in detail by letter, but reject it with life and free will (John 5: 46-47, 7:19). Everything that could have been done to save people was done by God’s unspeakable mercy. If I had not come and spoken to them, says the Savior, they would not have sin, and now they have no excuse for their sin. If I had not done among them the works that no one else has done, they would not have sinned, and now they have seen and hated me and my Father (John 15: 22-24).

Christianity is transmitted to us with such clarity that there is no excuse for those who do not know it. The reason for ignorance can only be our own reluctance to do so. As the sun shines in the sky, so does Christianity. He who closes his eyes, let him attribute his blindness and misunderstanding to his own will, not to the lack of light. The reason for rejecting the God-man from the people lies in the people themselves. In them lies the reason for accepting the antichrist. I came in my Father’s name, the Lord testified before the Jews, and you do not accept Me, but if another comes in his own name, you will receive him (John 5:42). They are called both rejecting Christ and accepting the antichrist, although the antichrist is referred to as the one to come. Rejecting Christ according to the structure of their spirit, they joined the recipients of the antichrist, even though they had completed their earthly journey many centuries before his coming. They committed his most monstrous deed – the murder of God. No such evil deed has been left for the time of the antichrist and for himself. To the extent that they were hostile in the spirit of Christ, their spirit was in communion with the antichrist, although they were separated from him by a great period of time, reaching today the end of the second millennium. Every spirit, says St. John the Theologian, which does not confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, is not of God: it is the spirit of the antichrist, whom you have heard coming, and is now in the world in spirit. (1 John 4: 3). Those who are guided by the spirit of the antichrist reject Christ, have accepted the antichrist with their spirit, have entered into communion with him, have obeyed him, and have worshiped him in spirit, making him their god. Therefore, God will send them – that is, He will allow them to be sent – an act of deception, so that they will believe the lie, so that all those who did not believe in the truth but loved unrighteousness will be condemned (2 Thess. 2: 11-12 ).

In His supposition, God is just. This assumption will be both a satisfaction and a rebuke and judgment of the human spirit. Therefore, the antichrist will come at the time predestined for him. His coming will be preceded by a general apostasy of most people of the Christian faith. With their apostasy from Christ, humanity will be prepared to receive the antichrist and will receive it with its spirit. In the very structure of the human spirit there will be a request, an invitation to the antichrist, sympathy for him, as in a state of severe illness there is a thirst for a deadly drink. An invitation will be issued, a calling voice will be given in human society – he will express an urgent need for the genius of geniuses, who will be able to raise material development and prosperity to the highest degree, to bring to earth such prosperity that heaven and heaven will become superfluous to men. The appearance of the antichrist will be a logical, just and natural consequence of the general moral and spiritual orientation of the people.

The miracles of the incarnate God were, in essence, the greatest material blessings imaginable by mankind. What benevolence can stand higher than restoring the life of the deceased? What benevolence can be more precious than curing an incurable disease that takes away the very vitality of life and turns it into more prolonged death than life? Leaving aside the charity, holiness, and spiritual significance of Christ’s miracles, these miracles were, however, only temporary gifts. These were signs in the true sense of the word, signs of eternal salvation given by the word. The resurrected by the God-Man died again when the time came for them – they were given only a continuation of their temporary life, and their life was not restored forever. Healed by the Godman became ill again and also died. Their health was restored only for a certain time, not forever. Temporary and material beneficences were performed as a sign of eternal and spiritual. The visible gifts were given to the enslaved people to believe in the existence of the invisible gifts and to accept them. Signs brought them out of the abyss of ignorance and sensuality and led them to faith, and this faith gave them knowledge of eternal goods and made them want to acquire them. With the help of miraculous signs, the apostles quickly spread Christianity throughout the universe. Their signs were clear and strong evidence of Christianity, both for educated peoples and for those who were mired in ignorance and barbarism. When faith was planted everywhere, when the word was planted, then the signs were taken away, ending their ministry.

They ceased to operate on a large scale and everywhere – they were performed by rarely chosen saints of God. St. John Chrysostom, the Holy Father and ecclesiastical writer of the 4th and 5th centuries, says that in his time the signs ceased to work, although in some places, especially among the monks, there were still men who performed signs. Over time, these flag-bearing men gradually diminished. For the last centuries, the holy fathers have predicted that then there will be no flag-bearing men. “Why,” some say, “are there no signs today?” Listen to my answer with special attention, because I hear the question I am asked today by many, I hear it often and even constantly. Why did all those who received baptism once start speaking in foreign languages, but now this is not happening? … Why has the grace of miracles been taken away from people now? This is what God does by not dishonoring us, but even giving us greater honor. In what way? I will explain. People in those days were more superficial, as if they had just been cut off from idols; their minds were thick and dull, they were immersed in the material and belonged to it, they could not imagine the existence of immaterial gifts, nor did they know the importance of spiritual grace – that everything is accepted only by faith. This was the reason for the signs. Of the spiritual gifts, some are invisible and accepted only through faith, others are associated with certain signs available to the senses to awaken faith in unbelievers. For example, the forgiveness of sins is a spiritual and invisible gift – we do not see with our bodily eyes how our sins are cleansed. The soul is purified, but it is invisible to the eyes of the body. Therefore, the cleansing of sins is a spiritual gift that cannot be seen by the bodily eyes, while the ability to speak in tongues, although it belongs to the spiritual actions of the Spirit, but also serves as a sign, acting on the senses. ), which is why it is easy for unbelievers to notice the invisible action performed inside the soul – it becomes obvious and is shown through the external language that we can hear. For the same reason, St. Apostle Paul says: But it is given to everyone to manifest the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12: 7). So, I don’t need signs. Why? Because I have learned to believe in God’s grace without signs. The unbeliever needs evidence, but I, the believer, do not need it at all, nor do I need signs. Although I do not speak foreign languages, I know that I am cleansed of sin. The ancients did not believe until they received signs. Their signs were given as proof of the faith they accepted. Therefore, signs were given not to believers, but to unbelievers, so that they might become believers. This is what St. Apostle says. Paul: Therefore tongues are a sign not to those who believe, but to those who disbelieve. [15]

If signs were sorely needed, they would still exist today. But the word that the signs contributed to remained. It has spread, reigned, embraced the entire universe. It has been explained quite comprehensively by the church fathers: access to it and its assimilation have become particularly easy. It is essential, it is necessary, it carries out the salvation of men, it gives us eternal goods, it gives us the Kingdom of heaven, it contains the highest spiritual signs of God (Ps. 118: 18). But the word of the Lord endureth for ever: and this is the word which is preached unto you (1 Peter 1:25). There was life in Him, and life was the light of men (John 1: 4). It gives birth to the dead for eternal life, giving them from Himself His universal life: hearers and doers of the word are resurrected not from a mortal seed but from an imperishable one, through the word of the living God who abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). . To know the meaning of a word, it must be fulfilled. As soon as a person begins to fulfill the Gospel commandments, they immediately begin to transform man, to transform him, to enliven him, to transform his way of thinking, his heartfelt feelings, his body itself: For the word of God is alive and active and more sharp from any double-edged sword: it penetrates to the separation of soul and spirit, of joints and brain, and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). The word of God contains a testimony of itself in itself. It is similar to the healing signs – it acts in the person himself and with this action he testifies to himself. It is the highest sign. It is a spiritual sign given to people to satisfy everything necessary for their salvation and thus makes material signs unnecessary. A Christian who is unaware of this property of the word exposes himself in a cool attitude to the word, in ignorance of the word of God, or in dead knowledge of the letter alone.


The aspiration that is found in modern Christian society – to see and even perform miracles – should not be ignored. This aspiration needs careful consideration. The desire to perform miracles is strongly condemned by the Holy Fathers: such a desire reveals the self-deception that lives and prevails in the soul, based on arrogance and vanity. The great mentor of the monks, St. Isaac the Syrian, reflects on this question: intercession in something ordinary for us, not to lose the necessary reverence for Him and this to harm us. This is what He does, contemplating the saints. In all circumstances, God allows them to perform a feat appropriate to their strength and to work in prayer, but at the same time He shows them that His secret care for them does not cease for an hour. If the difficulty of the circumstances exceeds the measure of their reason, if they are exhausted and unable to act because of their natural infirmity, then He Himself does what is necessary to help them according to the greatness of His authority, as befits and as He knows. Whenever possible, He secretly strengthens them, putting in them the strength to overcome their sorrows. He frees them from their sorrow and confusion with a mind which He Himself bestows upon them, and by making them aware of His providence, he evokes in them a praise which brings them all-round benefit. When circumstances require overt support, He does so as needed. His means and ways of helping are the wisest. They help in need, in case of need, but not meaningless. He who dares and prays to God to do something extraordinary without being compelled by any necessity, who desires miracles to be wrought through his hands, allows himself to be tempted in his mind by the devil who mocks him. Such a person appears conceited and has a sick (damaged) conscience. It is right in sorrow to ask God for help. Tempting God unnecessarily is dangerous. It is truly unjust who desires this. In the lives of the saints we find examples of the Lord fulfilling their desires by expressing His displeasure. The one who seeks and desires miracles voluntarily, without being forced to do so, falls away from the state in which he can protect himself, and through his hidden aspirations moves away from understanding the truth. If the one who prays for something unusual is heard, then the evil one finds a place in him, as in one who walks before God without reverence, with audacity, and in doing so, the evil one throws him into even greater hidden aspirations.

True righteous people not only do not want to be miracle workers, but when they are given the gift of miracles, they give it up. They do not want this not only in front of people’s eyes, but also in themselves, in the secrets of their hearts. One Holy Father, because of his purity, received from God a gracious gift to know about those who came to him, but he prayed to God, begging his friends to ask the same – that this gift be taken away from him. If some of the saints accepted the gifts, either out of necessity or because of their simplicity, others accepted them at the direction of the Spirit of God working in them, but by no means accidentally, unnecessarily … The true righteous live constantly with thought, that they are unworthy of God. That they consider themselves miserable, unworthy of God’s care, is evidence that they are truly righteous. [16]

From this sacred reflection follows the conclusion that those who wish to perform signs desire it because of carnal fervor, driven by passions incomprehensible to them, even though they seem to be guided by zeal for God’s works. Those who want to see signs are also in such a state of self-deception and heat. Tempting God and violating the reverence for Him is forbidden in all cases, asking for God’s help is allowed in an emergency when there is a lack of one’s own means to get out of it. However, the choice of means of support must be left to God, surrendering to His will and mercy. The Lord will always send us a spiritual aid. It will bring both the help we need and a taste of holy humility through that same help. It is not connected with outward splendor, as one would like in the same carnal wisdom, so as not to injure the soul by satisfying its vanity. Both in the work of God and in the ministry of the Church itself, God’s blessing and God’s help must be constantly invoked, it must be believed that only God’s spiritual means can be useful for faith and piety, but in no case those means. it offers us carnal wisdom.

It is difficult for a person to bear the glory without harming his soul. This is difficult not only for the passionate (slaves of the passions), but also for those who have conquered the passions, for the saints. Although they have been given victory over sin, their variability has not been removed, they have not been deprived of the opportunity to return to sin and the yoke of passions. This has indeed happened to some with insufficient attention to themselves, when they have trusted too much only in themselves, in their spiritual condition. The tendency to pride is present even in the most purified souls, as Rev. Macarius the Great observes. This same tendency becomes the beginning of deviance (from the right path) and attraction (from sin). For this reason, the gift of healing and other visible gifts are very dangerous to those to whom they are given, as they are highly valued by carnal-minded people who glorify them. Invisible gracious gifts, such as the gift of guiding souls to salvation and healing them from passions, are incomparably superior to the visible, but they are not understood or noticed by the world. Not only does he not glorify God’s servants who have these gifts, but he even persecutes them as acting against the principles of the world, as slandering the authority of the prince of this world. The merciful God gives people what they need and benefit from, even though they do not understand and appreciate it. It does not give what is in any case a little useful, and can often be too harmful, although carnal wisdom and ignorance are insatiably thirsty and seek it. “Many,” says St. Isaac the Syrian, “performed miracles, raised the dead, worked to convert the lost, performed great miracles, brought others to the knowledge of God, and then themselves, after reviving others, they have fallen into impure and abominable passions, which have killed themselves ”[20]. Prep. Macarius the Great tells of an ascetic who lived with him and received such an abundant gift of healing that he healed the sick only by the laying on of hands, but after being glorified by the people he became proud and fell into the deepest sinfulness. In the life of St. Anthony the Great is mentioned a young monk who commanded the wild donkeys in the desert. When the great ascetic heard of this miracle, he expressed distrust of the miracle-worker’s state of mind, and indeed, news of the tragic fall of the monk soon followed. In the 4th century in Egypt lived a holy old man who had a particularly great gift of miracles and therefore – a resounding glory among men. He soon noticed that pride was beginning to overwhelm him and that he could not overcome it on his own. The old man resorted to God with the most fervent prayers to be handed over to demon possession in order to humble himself. God fulfilled the humble and wise request of His servant and allowed Satan to enter him. The old man was handed over to rage in for five months he had to be chained, and the people, who flocked to him in large crowds and glorified him as a great saint, left him, declaring that he had lost his mind. Thus the old man got rid of human glory and thanked God, who saved him from destruction. Salvation came through insignificant torture and dishonor before the carnal people, who did not understand that through the signs the devil caused disaster for the old man, and through open rage the old man was returned to safety by the wonderful mercy of God.

From this it becomes clear why the great fathers Sisoi, Pimen and others, who had abundant gifts of healing, began to hide them. They did not trust themselves, because they knew the ability of man to change easily and through humility they protected themselves from the dangers of the soul [23]. The holy apostles were given the gift of miracles to aid in preaching, but at the same time God’s providence allowed them severe tribulations and persecutions for this very purpose – to keep them from exalting themselves. St. Isaac Sirin says: “A gift without temptation is fatal for the one who accepts it. If what you are doing is pleasing to God and He has given you a gift – ask Him to give you a reason on how to humble yourself in this gift or ask Him to be a guardian of the gift (guardians of the gifts of the Holy Apostles be the calamities befallen them), or to take away from you the gift that may be the cause of your destruction, because not everyone can keep their wealth without harming themselves. ” [24]

The spiritual mind’s view of bodily diseases and their wonderful healing is completely different from that of carnal wisdom. The wisdom of the flesh considers diseases to be a calamity, and their cure, especially when it is miraculously done, to be the greatest prosperity, regardless of whether such healing is of benefit to the soul or harm. The spiritual mind sees both in the infirmities sent by God’s providence and in the healings bestowed by God’s grace, God’s mercy to man. Enlightened by the light of God’s word, spiritual reason teaches us godly and soul-saving behavior in both cases. He teaches us that it is permissible to seek and ask God to heal the disease with the firm intention that the restored health and strength be used for the service of God and in no case for the service of vanity and sin. Otherwise, the wonderful healing will only serve for greater condemnation and will cause even greater punishment in both temporal and eternal life. This is what the Lord Himself testified. When He healed the weak, He said to him: Behold, you are healed, do no more sin, lest something worse happen to you (John 5:14). Man is weak and easily inclined to sin. Since some saints who have the gracious gift of healing and abundant gift of spiritual contemplation have been tempted and fallen into sin, it is all the easier for God’s gift to be abused by carnal people who have no clear understanding of spiritual things. And many have abused! Having miraculously received healing from their illness, they did not pay attention to God’s goodness and their obligation to be grateful for it, but began a sinful life. They turned God’s gift to their detriment, and by turning away from God, they lost salvation. Therefore, wonderful healings of bodily infirmities are rare, although carnal wisdom venerates and desires them. You ask, but you do not receive, because you ask badly – to scatter it in your lusts (James 4: 3).

Spiritual reason teaches us that diseases and other afflictions that God sends to people are sent by God’s special mercy. As bitter healing medicines help the sick, so they contribute to our salvation, to our eternal well-being much more securely than wonderful healings. Often, quite often, it turns out that the disease is much more beneficial than its healing. Sickness is such an essential good deed that to take it away through healing would be to take away the greatest good, incomparable to that temporary good which will bring healing to the bodily infirmity. Poor and sick Lazarus, mentioned in the Gospels, was not cured of his grievous disease, was not delivered from poverty, and died in the same condition in which he had long suffered, but because of his patience was exalted by the angels in the bosom of Abraham ( Luke 16:22). Scripture everywhere testifies that God sends various afflictions, including bodily infirmities, to those whom He has loved (Heb. 10: 6ff.). Scripture affirms that all of God’s saints, without exception, have made their earthly journey on the narrow, steep, and thorny path filled with various tribulations and hardships (Heb. 12: 3). Based on such an understanding of tribulation, the true servants of God treated those who suffered tribulation with the utmost prudence and devotion. The tribulation that was sent to them, whatever it was, they welcomed as something deserved, [25] believing with all their souls that the tribulation would not have been sent if it had not been allowed by the Just and Almighty God according to human needs. Their first job when grief befell them was to realize that they deserved it. They sought and always found in themselves the cause of grief. Then, if they saw that their sorrow was an obstacle to their pleasing God, they prayed to God to deliver them from it, giving their request to the will of God, and in no way considered their understanding of sorrow to be correct. It cannot be completely correct: the judgment of even a holy man is limited, it cannot comprehend and see all the causes of sorrows, as it encompasses and sees the all-seeing eye of God, allowing sorrows for His beloved servants. St. ap. Three times Paul prayed to God to remove the satanic angel who had hindered him from preaching Christianity. Paul was not heard: God judged this matter differently than the inspired apostle (2 Cor. 12: 7-10).

Surrendering oneself to the will of God with a sincere reverent desire to do it is a natural consequence of true, spiritual reasoning. When the holy monks became ill, they accepted sickness as God’s greatest blessing, tried to spend this time in praise and thanksgiving to God, did not want healing, although miraculous healings were performed mainly among them. They wanted to patiently and humbly endure what God had allowed, believing and confessing that it was more beneficial to the soul than any self-willed feat. Reverend Pimen the Great said: “There are three monastic deeds (ways of spiritual asceticism), equal in dignity – when one is properly silent, when one is sick and thanks God, and when one obeys with pure thoughts.” In the Egyptian hermitage, where the most holy monks lived, Rev. Benjamin lived. Because of his virtuous life, the Lord gave him an abundant gift of healing. Having this gift, he himself fell ill with a severe and prolonged illness, from which his whole body swelled. He swelled unusually much. They were forced to move him from his own cell to another, more spacious one. That’s why they had to take out the whole door of his cell. In the new room they made him a special place to lie down, and more precisely to sit down, because he could not lie on the bed. In this situation, the reverend continued to heal others, and those who saw his suffering and sympathized with him, urged them to pray for his soul and not to take care of his body. “When my body is healthy,” he said, “I have little use for it.” Now, transmitted to the disease, it does me no harm. “[27] Abba Peter said that once he visited Rev. Isaiah the Hermit and found him suffering from a serious illness, he expressed regret. To this the reverend replied: “Although so depressed by the disease, I can barely remember the terrible time (of death and God’s judgment). If my body was healthy, the memory of that time would be completely foreign to me. When the body is healthy, then it tends to provoke hostility toward God. And our sorrows serve as a means of keeping God’s commandments. ” [28] St. fathers, when they were afflicted with diseases and other sorrows, first of all tried to show patience on their own, resorting to self-condemnation and self-reproach, and thus exerted pressure on the heart by forcing it to be patient. They remembered death, God’s judgment, eternal torment, the memory of which weakened the meaning and feeling of earthly sorrows (Matt. 28:20). They raised their thoughts to God’s providence, recalled the promise of the Son of God to be steadfast with His followers and to keep them, and thus moved their hearts to benevolence and courage (Matt. 28:20). They forced themselves to praise God and thank Him for their sorrow, they were forced to realize their sinfulness, which required punishment and understanding because of God’s justice and because of God’s very goodness. To their hard work to gain patience they added this: they intensified their diligent prayers to God to send them the spiritual gift of gracious patience, inseparable from other spiritual gifts, and the gracious humility that serves with it as a sure pledge of salvation and eternal bliss. .

The great standard-bearing fathers did not perform healing, which was very easy for them, on their disciples, given to diseases due to God’s permission or God’s providence, so as not to deprive them of the spiritual prosperity they had to achieve through the disease of the original moral laws. of the Church. The abbot of the dormitory in Gaza, Rev. Serid, a student of Barsanuphius the Great, who remained silent in the same dormitory, was ill for a long time. Some of the older brothers asked the great old man to heal the abbot. St. Barsanuphius replied, “Several of the saints here can pray for my son’s health, as I have told him, and he will not be sick for a single day, but then he will not receive the fruits of patience. This disease is very useful for him to gain patience and gratitude. “[30] Explaining the need to grieve for the ascetic of Christ, St. Isaac the Syrian says: “Temptation is good for everyone. If it was useful to St. Apostle Paul, let all mouths be shut, and the whole world be guilty before God (Rom. 3:19). The ascetics are tempted to multiply their wealth, the weak to protect themselves from what is harmful to them, the sleeping to wake up, those who stand far away to draw closer to God, their own to become even closer. The untrained son does not enter into his right to dispose of his father’s wealth, because he will not be able to dispose of it usefully. For this reason, God first tempts and torments, and then gives the gifts. Glory to the Bishop, Who with bitter medicines gives us to enjoy health! There is no person who does not grieve during training. There is no person who does not find bitter the time during which he has to drink the cup of temptation. But without them it is impossible to gain psychic strength. And it is not to our credit that we can endure. How can a vessel made of earth retain water if it is not strengthened in advance by divine fire? If we humbly pray to God for him with reverence and a constant desire for patience, we will receive everything in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”[31]

 (Writings of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov. Volume IV. Ascetic Sermon and Letters to the Lay People, St. Petersburg, 1905, pp. 292-326 [in Russian])


* All underlining in the text is by the translator

13. Interpretation of II Cor. 3:18.

14. St. Nifont of Constantinople. 4th answer to the brother.

15. St. John Chrysostom. First talk of Pentecost.

16. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 36.

17. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 1.

18. Prep. Macarius the Great. Talk 7, ch. 4.

19. St. Tikhon of Voronezh. Essays, item 15, letter 103, item 4.

20. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 56.

21. Prep. Macarius the Great. Talk 27, ch. 1.

22. Alphabetical crutch.

23. There.

24. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 34.

25. Prep. Mark the Ascetic. 226 chapters for those who think to justify themselves by deeds, ch. 6.

26. Alphabetical crutch.

27. There.

28. Prep. Isaiah the Hermit. Word 27.

29. Prep. Abba Dorothea. Teaching 7.

30. Answer 130.

31. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 37.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Must read

Latest articles

- Advertisement -