This letter is so powerful. Father John again writes to his spiritual child through experience. He speaks to her of sorrows and their use in God's hands towards our salvation.
He also again tells her that the writings of the Holy Fathers are best understood through living them. They are taken off the page and come alive.
But I will cease my comments lest the reader should find value in only what I point out. So many wonderful points are made by Father John.
30 December 1947
'Christ is in our midst!'
In your last letter you told of having the same experiences again. But now, thank the Lord, they are over.
If there were no sorrows, neither would there be salvation, said the Holy Fathers. Sorrows have two uses: the first is zeal towards God and whole-hearted thankfulness. The second is being delivered from vain cares and concerns. It is clear from the writings of the Holy Fathers that they too, like us, became depressed and faint-hearted, and they even went through experiences that they did not want to commit to writing lest they should disturb those of us who were inexperienced in the spiritual life and bring us to despair. Of course, the Lord permits sorrows in accordance with our powers, in the amount that each can bear. These trials humble us. We have a kind of self-confidence, we want to succeed in the spiritual life by our own powers, and it is in such sorrows that we learn humility, that our efforts cannot achieve their aims without God's help. Ours should be the effort towards virtue, but success even in virtue depends on grace, and grace is given by God and only to the humble. No one becomes humble without humbling events.
The wise spiritual life was explained with precision by the Holy Fathers in their writings, but what they wrote can best be understood by being lived. If you yourself work to free your heart of passions, then everything will be clearer and more understandable.
' Holy Fathers, pray to God for us sinners, and open our small minds to
comprehend your writings.'
You write that your duties distract you from prayer. As you work, keep the memory of God; this too is prayer. It is good that you have this striving for the spiritual life and for prayer. This is already half of salvation, and God will help you to go further. Only do not be depressed and fainthearted; may the Lord help you.
Read the previous post in this series:
You also write that you have not even reached a beginning. This feeling is a good thing; it leads to humility. According to the law of spiritual knowledge, spiritual life has to be like this. The closer a man comes to God, the more he sees his faults and his sinfulness. Lord, deliver man from seeing himself as righteous. May the Lord help you and save you from eternal suffering."