Tuesday, January 15, 2008

St. Silouan on Relations with Neighbors

St. Silouan the Staretz came to spiritual understandings concerning our relations to our neighbor.

We see in others that which our own spiritual experience has shown us about ourselves, and so a man's attitude to his fellow neighbor is a sure sign of the degree of self-knowledge he has attained. Whoever has experienced the deep and intense suffering of the human spirit when excluded from the light of true being, and, on the other hand, knows what it is to be in God, has no doubt that every human being is a permanent eternal value, more precious than all the rest of the world. He is conscious of man's worth, consious that 'the least of these my brethren' is dear in God's sight, and so he will never think of murdering, harming or even giving offence to his neighbour.

The man who merely 'believes', the man with only a moderate personal experience of grace and a still vague sense of the reality of eternal life, will in the measure of his love for God keep himself from sin, but his love will be far from perfect and may not prevent him from hurting his brother.

But the man who pitilessly, for his own benefit and interest, harms another, wh0 plots or commits bloodshed, has either become like a wild animal and acknowledges in his depths that he is a brute being--which means that he does not believe in eternal life--or has set his feet on the path of demoniac spirituality.

"His vision of Christ gave the Staretz to experience man's god-like state. He hailed all men as bearers of the Holy Spirit, of that Light of Truth which to some degree inhabits and enlightens every man. The man who knows this Light beholds it in others."

This is all so very good! Last night, there were dreams of the past, of being in the other location far away, and then of an angel coming in the guise of a priest I know, who expressed some consolation, that it is all right how recent events have been handled; for, I had told him in this dream how strange I feel, and how not living my life perhaps as well as I ought, not getting enough things accomplished, and not handling a recent situation that well. But he spoke words of comfort and peace, of gentleness and patience.

Upon awakening, I admitted aloud in the silence of the hermitage, that if this recent spate were a graded effort, I would not have a high mark. But it is not; it is simply a growth experience as all our experiences are for the growth of our souls, to learn to glorify God in all things.


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