Elder Dionisie of Colciu (+ May 11, 2004)
“Pray unceasingly!” Sure, the Church has all sorts of prayers for the fulfillment of all of one’s needs. But in each one of us, as persons, in our souls and in our thoughts can be installed a prayer that is small enough, yet very powerful: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And if at each breath you say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, the sins are chased out of your thoughts and ideas, and Christ dwells in your heart.
The goodness of God helps us as many times as we run to Him and cry out, “Lord, I pray to You, help me!” At that second, the grace of the Holy Spirit comes and helps you. But we should request, as the Holy Fathers tell us, with humble-mindedness. We should consider ourselves to be sinners before God, that we are not worthy of help: “Lord, You Who descended from the Holy Trinity and took on a human body in order to deliver us from evil, I pray to you, help me!” With humble-mindedness it is not possible for God not to help you, not under any pretext whatsoever.
But we are indifferent: “Eh, Lord, help me… Eh, if You want, You can help me, but if not, it doesn’t matter.” No! We should consider ourselves to be as we really are, unworthy. You see what the Lord says: “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). But look, we constantly make mistakes, that is why we can never expect that we are worthy for Him to help us. Not so, as we continuously trample upon the will of God, willingly and unwillingly. It is such that, if we request with meekness and with humble-mindedness the help of God, at that second the grace of the Holy Spirit helps us. Oh! May God help us.
YOU NEED TO SHOW SPIRITUAL MANLINESS
From childhood, our minds turn towards the bad, the unclean, but more so they are led towards the bad by the tempter. Because this is his weapon, in order to ruin our minds. But we need to show spiritual manliness. As much as we can, we should fight, we should not receive unclean thoughts. Do you see? “From my youth have many passions warred against me”, as the Antiphons say. Many passions. “But You Yourself help me” – we pray to God to help us, and with the help of God we will all be victors. For God helps us, since the Savior tells us thus: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
That is why we must always, for whatever we request, request with humility. God accounts the humble-minded person closer to Him, and humility more than any other good work which you may have. If you request from God, whatever you request with humility, it is not possible for God not to listen to you. He listens to you, he fulfills your wish, but you need to request with humility. Whatever happens, realize first that it is from God, because that’s how it is, this is the truth. Since God wants it, we are at this moment here and we are speaking to each other, and we were at the church… but if God does not want it… That is why “Without Me”, without God we cannot do anything.
But we should know this thing, because if we know it, from now on, with humble-mindedness whatever we request from God, we will receive. What does the Lord say? Whatever you request, request, but you must believe, you should be convinced that God will fulfill your wish. But if you say, “Give, O Lord, such-and-such”, and you see that He did not give it to you, you begin to grumble: “Eh, God does not listen to me…” No! Hold on tight and constantly consider yourself unworthy.
Many times, God delays in fulfilling your wish because it is not beneficial for you, for no other reason does He not fulfill your wish other than that it is not beneficial. Yet at other times God wants to try you more. Thus it is with God. You need to show spiritual manliness then. It’s not that the tempter now comes and puts his bell to your ears, with all kinds of his misfortunes, and we should listen to him. No! Go forth with God.
“He who endures to the end,” writes the Holy Scriptures, “will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). You need patience. Humble-mindedness. Well yes, if we would have these three spiritual gifts – obedience, cutting off of the will, and humble-mindedness – we would count everything as good. Even if you were to be beaten all day long, or to be poisoned by some words, if we had all three of these gifts, which the Holy Fathers counsel, we would consider everything to be good. Yet if we do not have them… we only want to do our own desires. “Well, my will is good! Look at what he did, he made a mistake. He didn’t go the right way.” So, if you decide to be obedient to whatever they would tell you, to cut off your will, and to never do what you want, then you are covered with the grace of the Holy Spirit, instantly. Yes. And afterwards, you should be humble-minded. Humble-mindedness, that is to say, you should always consider yourself to be inferior to everyone else.
“LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”
As much as you can, you should always pray. If you cannot read, you should constantly say in your soul and in your mind and in your heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is a very small prayer, but it has the greatest strength, so that the great saints gave up all their philosophical books and drew near to this prayer which is small, yet mighty in power.
For the one which has this prayer, even if he stops to speak with someone, the prayer works in his mind the entire time. This is a fearful thing, a divine work. He goes, does, mends, without letting the prayer stop… That is why the Holy Books say that in normal times there were men which lived in royal palaces and had the mental prayer. What turmoil was not there, and how many distractions, yet they were godly men.
We should speak thus; since our obligation must always be to “pray unceasingly”, we should continuously say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, without pondering whether we will acquire mental prayer or not. And when the thought comes to you to slander someone, say, “Lord Jesus Christ…”; when some defiled thought comes, say “Lord Jesus Christ…” The mouth and mind should always be accustomed to saying, “Lord Jesus Christ…”, and slowly, slowly, slowly, without knowing, God descends His grace upon you.
Article from “Familia Ortodoxă”, May 2017 (# 5/100)