Tag Archives: watchfulness over the heart’
Preserving Our Stillness and Joy
It has been a while since I have recorded a podcast. The week before the weekend of The Cross, I contracted a terrible flu, which went viral and affected my brain! It was the most intense experience I have ever lived through. I had hallucinations for 10 days I went to the hospital twice. I did not sleep for most of those days and as time went on became quite innocent and about the age of a 3 year old!
My doctors had no idea what was causing my altered mental status. I underwent all kinds of tests – none of which helped to indicate what was causing my altered mental status. Finally, they gave me an anti-viral IV and medicine to allow me to sleep, At 3 AM the following morning – I came back! Glory to God!
Had it not been for the grace of God, the sacraments of the church, my husband’s support and the prayers of many people – I am not sure I would be here today in my right mind. Glory to God for all things! It has taken me a while to recover my self and I am so thankful to be well and back to my life again celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord.
Therefore, I thought I would draw on our dear Saints to discuss how we can maintain or guard the sanctity and peace of our souls in times of distress.
My husband strove during our battle with the flu and I am sure demonic forces to keep me positive even in the face of my altered mental status by continually saying to me: “God is good. God brings good from everything. Glory to God for all things!” These simple phrases became one of my anchors while I waited for God to heal me.
What else can we do to maintain our inner stillness and joy, especially as we slowly re-enter the fallen world after Pascha or deal with very challenging experiences?
My resources for this podcast are:
St. Seraphim of Sarov
St Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue
The Gospel according to St. John
Let’s start with St. Seraphim of Sarov
“We must endeavor by every means to keep peace of soul. Do not be troubled by the insults of men. It is necessary at all costs to restrain oneself from anger, and by watchfulness over oneself, to keep the mind and heart from vain movement… For the guarding of peace of soul, it is also necessary to flee from judging others. By non-judgment and silence, peace of soul is preserved. When a man attains to such a state, he receives divine revelation. For a man to be able to keep himself from judging others, he must be vigilant over himself; he must not dare to receive vain thoughts from another, and must be as one dead before all that is of this world. We must tirelessly keep our hearts from vain thoughts and impressions (Prov. 4:23). By constant watchfulness over the heart, a purity of heart is born in which God is seen, according to the words of eternal truths: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’.” (Matt. 5:8).
St. Seraphim of Sarov
We spent all of Lent practicing ‘watchfulness over the heart’ – now we are asked to continue our watchfulness – in the spirit of the Resurrection. How do we do that?
This is what St. Nicholai has to say about the fears that can assail us:
‘Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen.’ (Rev. 1:17-18)
“Thus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos. Fear not–what? Fear not the persecution of the church by the pagans. Fear not the torturers who martyr My faithful on all sides. Fear not kings who raise up persecution against the Christians. Fear not the successors of the chief men of this world, who ridicule My humiliation and My death. Fear not the demons, who blind men by the passions so they do not see the truth that I brought on earth. Fear nothing!
Christ is Risen!
Lord, how do I not fear? When the whole world gathers to ridicule us to our faces, small in number and unretaliating as we are, how can we not fear?
Fear not, for I am the first and the last, Alpha and Omega, and all those armies of mockers against you are nothing but a transient whirlwind of corpses. I am from before time began, I am after time ends; before the beginning of all and after the fulfillment of all things created, I am. And they are all shut up in the one span of time, which I have measured out to every creature, and beyond that span they cannot exist.
Let us rejoice at this – Christ is Risen!
Fear not, for ‘I was dead; and behold, I am alive’. Do not even fear death. I am before death and after death. Death is my servant, and I sent death into the world to serve Me. I gave Myself into My servant’s hands for three days. Then I commanded him to let Me go–and, behold, I am alive. I am the ruler of death as of life. I am the ruler of time as of eternity. Fear not!
I am alive for evermore and you will be alive with Me; you, and all who remain faithful to Me and are unafraid will be alive with Me. I am Alpha and Omega.”
St. Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, March 21
Christ is Risen!
O eternal and immortal Lord, grant that these Thy words may ever sound in the souls of Thy faithful people whenever persecution rises up against Thy Holy Church. Let us not fear, being held by the right hand of God. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
St Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, March 21
“I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Christ is Risen! Let us pray to our Risen Lord to deliver us from all our distress.
May you have a blessed completion of this Pascal Season, an awesome Ascension and Pentecost.
Christ is Risen!