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Step 27

ON THE SACRED REPOSE OF BODY AND SOUL.1

1. The repose of the body is a state of tranquility and peace, in which all the corporeal senses and motions are in subjection to reason. The repose of the soul is a serenity of mind, a calm meditation free from all distraction, and secure from the annoyances of the infernal spirits.

2. The first degree of interior peace is to banish from us all the noise and commotion created by the passions, which disturb the most profound tranquility of the heart. The last and most excellent degree is to stand in no fear of this disturbance, and to be perfectly insensible to its excitement.

3. He who is midway in this holy progress of peace, concentrates his attention within himself by silence, as he pursues his journey towards the delightful regions of perfect serenity. He is endowed with meekness, and possesses an invaluable fund of tenderness and charity. For he who is not fluent with his tongue, is not readily provoked to anger; but the soul of the talkative is quickly set on fire by passion.

4. As he who plunges into the water with his clothes on is not very sure of being able to swim, so he who is still subject to his passions cannot be certain that he understands the mysteries of theology.

5. Close the door of your closet upon your body, the door of your lips upon your tongue, and the door of your soul upon the evil spirits.

6. They who pray to God in spirit, speak to Him face to face, like the favorites of a king. They who pray with the lips are like those who prostrate themselves at the feet of their sovereign in the presence of his council. They who pray whilst engaged in worldly occupations, resemble those who present their petitions to the king when he is surrounded by a multitude of his people. If you are a proficient in the divine science of prayer, you will readily comprehend what I mean.

7. During prayer elevate the superior part of your soul, and observe, if possible, who are the robbers that steal the fruit from the vine tree of your heart, --how, whence, and when they come, and in what number they assail you.

8. When our spirit is weary with meditation in a sitting posture, let us renew our attention by standing. When overcome by the fatigue of standing, we shall return to our former position with fresh vigor.

9. Let not those who are subject to anger, or vanity, or dissimulation, or the resentment of injuries, ever presume to live in solitude, lest they derive no other fruit from their retirement than a wandering mind, and a criminal insensibility to all that appertains to God. With respect to those who have already subdued their passions, they may choose by the aid and counsel of others, that state of life which will best promote their eternal welfare.

10. We here subjoin the special qualities of those who, with sincerity and purity of mind, embrace the holy and distinguished virtue of obedience. These qualities have been pointed out to us by the holy Fathers, men eminently filled with the Spirit of God. Although they do not receive their perfection but at the time appointed by God, nevertheless they are susceptible of increase day by day in proportion as we increase in virtue. Now these amiable qualities or features of true obedience are the growth of humility by the suppression of anger and bile, the enlightenment of the mind, the augmentation of divine love, freedom from the passions, an aversion to hatred, the retrenchment of sensuality, the banishment of languor and weariness, constant vigilance, compassion, and the extermination of pride, a blessing which most people desire, but few obtain.

11. The wife who violates her fidelity to her husband dishonors her body, but he who breaks his faith with God defiles the purity of his soul. The crime of the former entails infamy, public scandal, severe chastisement, and divorce; the sin of the latter is followed by incontinency, the forgetfulness of death, an unbridled intemperance, vainglory, drowsiness, hardness of heart, confusion of mind, corruption of the will, subjection to the tyranny of the passions, trouble of mind, disobedience, obstinacy, perfidy, infidelity, loquacity, a groveling attachment to earthly things, and self-confidence, the most dangerous of all evils, which attains its consummation of misery by dryness of heart, and which, from its want of compunction, acquires an obdurate insensibility, and is the parent of all that is nefarious and wicked.

12. Constantly observe the different attacks of that slothfulness which dodges your soul, and notice whence they come, and to what they tend. They alone who have received peace and tranquility from the Holy Spirit, can make this discernment.

13. It is difficult to prevent sleep after dinner, especially in warm and oppressive weather, The best method we can then adopt is, to be employed in manual labour.

14. He who, being desirous of offering to God a pure mind, allows himself to be disturbed by a thousand cares, resembles the man who, after he has fettered his legs with heavy chains, wishes to run swiftly.

15. Persons who excel in the knowledge of philosophy and human wisdom, are seldom to be found. But it is far more difficult to meet with those who are eminent in the science of heaven, in that divine philosophy which is acquired in retirement.

16. A religious who is obedient, although poor in the treasures of heaven, is better than a solitary distracted by vain and unprofitable anxieties.

17. Breathe nothing but Jesus; let this name be engraven in your memories and on your hearts, and you will then know what is the fruit of retirement.

18. As the following [of] our own will is the stumbling block which causes many to fall that live in community, so the intermission of prayer is the ruin of many that dwell in solitude.

19. The reading of the Holy Scriptures is very profitable for the enlightenment and recollection of the mind. They contain the words of the Holy Spirit, and prove a faithful guide to those who read them with piety and respect. And if God has called you to the holy state in which you are living, you will carefully practice that which you read; with this practice few or no other books will be needful. Endeavour to understand the science of salvation more by the performance of good works than by the reading of books. Read not the works of heretical writers, before you have been enlightened and fortified by the Holy Spirit, lest you lose yourself in that darkness which obscures weak minds.

20. Let the eye of the mind be always vigilant and attentive against the snares of vanity. For it is the most subtle and the most dangerous of your enemies.


  1. This step, as chiefly appertaining to solitaries, has been abridged by the translator.



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Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
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