"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Friday 4 January 2013

HOW TO DISCERN A GOOD THOUGHT FROM AN EVIL THOUGHT? Extracts from a meeting of the monastic sisters with Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok

Q: Father, how can I tell the evil thoughts I have to fight from simple thoughts? How can I sort them out?

Father Andrew: There are thoughts that come from God but they are not even thoughts, they are more like inspiration. There are simple thoughts about our daily lives, and they originate in our own hearts. And there are evil devil-inspired thoughts. How to tell the difference between them? Perhaps, due to the fact that we are humans, we cannot avoid some mistakes but if you seriously, with all responsibility, with all your heart and reason, ask yourself whether this or that thought comes from God or not, you will immediately get the answer because somewhere in the depth of your conscience you will know it.

I think that we all know everything. It is just that we are too lazy to take the effort to discern thoughts. When an individual is filled with lots of thoughts, emotions, dreams and plans, it appears to him that it is impossible to differentiate between them.

If you do not give food to a certain person for a couple of days, his thoughts will be very limited in scope. He will think only about food. This thought will override all other thoughts. Pain has a similar effect of overriding all other thoughts but this is not a good advice to follow because it may lead to mental disorders. We need to take heed.

You said about the construction work: it is not nearly as complicated and hard to understand if you take time to think over it. Similarly, thoughts are also not as complicated and hard to differentiate as they seem to be. You simply have to calm down and bring yourself to reason.

Each thought that you want to direct towards God calls for immense effort; and finally, you lose this thought because it calls for vigour and strength.

How can we minimise our losses? When you direct your thoughts to God, you are strained; and then you understand that you cannot bear the strain and that you have to relax. You should bring your losses during that period of relaxation to a possible minimum; your thoughts should be neutral. For instance, you might sit around, drink some tea or stay alone for some time. If you do that because you have nothing else to do, this is bad, this is a dead-end. But if you do that because you have to relax, this is not bad.

However, our enemy does not want to calm down even when you relax, he cannot tolerate you directing your thoughts to God. He wants to take revenge on you for this, which is why he will try to plant some wickedness even in these neutral thoughts because he knows your passions, your past with all its mistakes. He will strike you where your defence is the weakest, so you have to be ready for that.

This is why when you pray to God, you must understand that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction and that you are prone to failure at a certain point. An experienced military commander cannot always advance because he knows he may be surrounded. Things like that did happen during warfare. This is why you should back off to the prepared positions. It calls for your own reasoning, your spiritual intuition and your spiritual experience. You should understand when you are able to cope with the enemy's attack and when you are not.

Elder Sophrony was a great man of prayer, a true monk who received many spiritual gifts. He used to say that if an individual is capable of praying two hours with full and undivided attention, he has perfect prayer. Sometimes a person is in such a spiritual state when he does not pray but simply feels the grace and the power of God. One can experience such state for a day or even longer but this does not happen because of his own merit. When a person prays and concentrates his attention in order to be free from some emotions and reminiscences, this is a great stress, it's like shedding one's blood. You fight against the whole world and against yourself because your old man tries to stop you somehow.

One has to make the best of every situation. So if you have this question, it is possible to say that you are a good nun. I think that not all people have a question like, “How can I tell good thoughts from bad ones?”

Also read another homily by Fr  Andrew: "The Way to Holiness"

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