Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


4 Entries

A thirty-five year old merchant from the Bogoroditsky District of the Province of Tula, a sober man, had been suffering for a sickness of soul for more than a year: It seemed to him that certain men whom he did not know were persecuting him and were intent on killing him. These delusions gave him no rest day or night, and several times the thought occurred to him to commit suicide, which terrified his whole family.

At the insistence of his mother, I. V. went to the monastery and explained what was happening to him to the Elder Hilarion. The elder several times spoke with him at length and perceived that he had been harboring a secret sin which he had not confessed to the priest, since he doubted that he would be forgiven for it.

The elder persuaded him that the sin does not exist that God's love will not forgive, if it is repented of. In confession the merchant offered up repentance for it, and when he had received absolution, he was admitted to the communion of the Holy Mysteries.

At the time of Communion, the elder said to him: 'Go with God. They will now persecute and bind you no longer.' And such was indeed the case. I. V. completely recovered from his tormenting ailment. the life of Elder Hilarion of Optina

Entrust yourself and the fate of your father to the will of the Lord, which is all-wise and omnipotent. Take care through humble-mindedness to strengthen yourself within the bounds of moderate grief. Pray to the all-good Creator, thereby fulfilling the debt of love and filial duty-in the spirit of the virtuous and wise, thus: 'O Lord, watch over the perished soul of my father, and if it be possible, have mercy upon him. Thy judgments are unfathomable. Do not consider this my prayer to be a sin, but may Thy holy will be done.' Pray simply, without testing [God], placing your heart in the right hand of the Most High. It was not, of course, the will of God that your father come to such a bitter end, but now he is totally under the will of the Mighty One, and, soul and body, he is cast into the fiery furnace, which humbles and exalts, kills and gives life, brings down into hades and raises up [therefrom]. Furthermore, He is so kind, omnipotent and overflowing with love, that the good qualities of all mortals are nothing compared to His most exalted goodness. For this reason, you must not grieve beyond measure. You say: 'I love my father, which is why I am sorrowing inconsolably.' But God, incomparably more than you do, loved and loves him. It is therefore necessary for you to leave the eternal fate of your father to the goodness and loving-kindness of God. And if He deigns to have mercy, who will gainsay Him? Optina Elder Leonid (Leo, in the schema), consoling disciple, P. T., whose father had ended his own life by suicide

If someone, having lost his mind, lifts his hand against himself or casts himself from a height, must an offering be made for such a one, or not?" The answer of St. Timothy: "Concerning such a one, the priest must consider whether [the suicide] might really have done such a thing while out of his mind. For often those who are close to one who has suffered at his own hand, desiring to arrange that an offering and prayer be made for him, act unjustly and say that he was out of his mind. It is possible that he did this because of some human offence or in some other case out of cowardice. For this reason, the priest must assuredly ascertain [the truth] with all care, lest he incur condemnation [for himself]. The Book of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Holy Councils & the Holy Fathers, among the canonical answers of the most holy Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria. Question 14

The Church does not command [us to pray for suicides]. How then dare its sons and daughters to pray [for them]? What is evident here is an attempt to show that we are more merciful than the Church, than God Himself. It is better to limit ourselves to feeling pity for them, entrusting them to the immortal compassion of God, and praying for them in our private prayers, that He deal with them according to His loving-kindness and according to your faith in that loving-kindness. St. Theophanes the Recluse

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