Patristic Tradition

On Grace ( 01.04.2009 )

Blessed is the soul that preserves purity of mind and body. The Lord loves her and gives her the grace of the Holy Spirit, and this grace constrains her so to love God that from sweetness of the Holy Spirit she cannot tear herself from Him and, insatiable, stretches towards Him, for the love of God knows no end. I say 'insatiable', though I know a man whom the Merciful Lord visited with His grace, and had the Lord asked him, 'Wouldst thou have more grace?', his soul in the weakness of his body would have replied, 'Lord, Thou seest — if Thou dost give me more, I shall not be able to bear it, and I shall die.' Man cannot bear the fullness of grace. Hence on Mount Tabor Christ's disciples 'fell on their face' before the glory of the Lord.

Every day we feed the body and breathe in air that it may live. But what the soul needs is the Lord and the grace of the Holy Spirit, without which the soul is dead. As the sun warms and gives life to the flowers of the field, and they reach up to it, so the soul that loves God is drawn towards Him and basks in Him, and in her great joy would have all men equally happy. For this did the Lord create us, that in heaven we might dwell eternally with Him in love.

Glory be to God and His compassion! He so loved us that He gave us the Holy Spirit Who teaches us all good things, and gives us strength to vanquish sin. The Lord in His great mercy gives us grace, and we must hold fast to this grace, lest we lose it, for without grace man is spiritually blind. Blind is he who accumulates riches in this world; which means that his soul does not know the Holy Spirit, does not know how sweet He is, and so is captivated by the earth. But he who has known the sweetness of the Holy Spirit knows that it is beyond compare, and there is naught on earth can charm him, for he is held in thrall by love of the Lord alone, and finds rest in God, and rejoices, and weeps with pity for mankind, because all men have not come to know the Lord.

When the soul is in the Holy Spirit she is content and does not weary after the things of heaven, for the Kingdom of God is within us: the Lord has come and taken up His abode in us. But when the soul loses grace, she longs for what is of heaven and seeks the Lord with tears.


When the soul falls away from grace, she entreats the Lord again for the mercy she once knew. The soul is harassed and torn by evil thoughts, and she turns for protection to the Lord, her Creator, and beseeches Him to grant her a humble spirit, so that grace shall not forsake the soul but give her strength to love her Heavenly Father without cease.

The Lord removes His grace from the soul and thus in His mercy and wisdom does He school the soul for whose sake His arms were stretched upon the cross in great suffering, that she might be humble. He allows the soul to shew forth her intent in the struggle with the enemy but the soul of herself is powerless to vanquish him; and so my soul is sorrowful and longs for the Lord, and seeks Him in tears.


Saint Silouan the Athonite