Monday, January 28, 2008

St. Silouan's Suffering and Death

St. Silouan's life of prayer converged into two themes. I go unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. And, Pray for people...pity the people of God.

The Staretz commented, regarding how difficult it is to pray for people: "Of course it is hard....To pray for people is to shed blood. But we must pray none the less. Everything that grace has ever taught must be performed to the end of one's life....The Lord at times forsakes the soul in order to prove her, that she may testify her understanding and free will; but if a man does not contrain himself to pray he will lose grace, whereas if he evinces good will, grace will love him and abandon him no more."

"In the spiritual world we see a practice the normal order of things: there, those who are above wait upon those below, sacrificing themselves for their sakes, to bring them to the same degree of wealth, to the same fullness of which they themselves are possessed. The motive power is love, which cannot bear to see the loved one suffeirng privation. Thus the incontestable and eternal Master and Lord said that He 'came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many'. The accepted doctrine concerning angels is that they are a higher form of being than we are, yet St. Paul says they are 'ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.' The Lord enjoins His disciples to do as He did when He washed their feet...."

In early September, 1938, the Staretz suddenly became ill. When asked if he was going to die, he answered, "I have not yet learned humility."

He remained silent in the last days of his life. When asked late one night if he needed anything, he said, "No, thank you, nothing." In less than a half hour, when checked again, he had died.

It is not easy to minister to others when one is not feeling well. In those times, prayer is important, or remaining silent in contemplation of God, of others, of others in God's love. Sometimes the suffering is the very fact of having little energy, or no motivation or desire to actively serve. This is service itself: to suffer inability. But love must be the motive in all prayer.


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