May 8

From the Prologue

Arsenius was a monk in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. He never afforded himself any rest but continually labored. He ate food only once a day, after the setting of the sun. He lived a life of asceticism and died in the fourteenth century.



Glorious Arsenius, whom the world glorified,

Fleeing from glory, to himself he said,

To men and to the world, consider yourself dead,

Neither wise nor foolish words, do not speak.

For a word, at one time in life, I repented,

For silence, I have never repented.

If my heart, to God I do not bind,

To shake off the passionate life, I am not able.

If, my thoughts glorify God only

External passions will leave me.

Your time, fill with prayer and labor,

Sleep even less and labor all the more.

Arsenius the sinful, why do you stop,

Why to the wilderness did you come, I ask?

Not for the sake of idleness; but for the salvation of the soul,

Not for the sake of sleep, but for the sake of repentance.

Heal yourself quickly, and enliven the soul:

Lord have mercy! Forgive and have mercy!


A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he does not feel, neither the power of the words read nor gentleness in his heart. To that the great saint will reply to him: "My child, just read! I heard that the sorcerers of serpents, when they cast a spell upon the serpents, the sorcerers are uttering the words, which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents hearing the spoken words sense their power and become tamed. An so, with us, when we continually hold in our mouths the words of Holy Scripture, but even though we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit." My child, just read! The Holy Spirit Who, through inspired men, wrote these divine words, will hear, will understand and will hasten to your assistance; and the demons will understand will sense and will flee from you. That is: He Whom you invoke for assistance will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.

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