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Elder Joseph the Hesychast on Patience and Endurance

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Fortieth Letter
God always helps. He always comes in time, but patience is necessary.

Come, my good and beloved sister. Come and I shall comfort your sorrow once again.
Come and we shall bless God with the sweet voice of our heart, intoned through our mouth,
and resonating in our nous, saying, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me
bless His holy name." [1]

Do you see how much the Lord loves us? Do you see how fortunate we ungrateful ones are
for everything that His goodness gives us every day? But the time of the real harvest still
awaits us: that blessed moment when we shall leave everything here and depart to the
other homeland​the true one​the blessed life, the certain joy, so that each one of us receives
the portion that the munificent, sweetest Jesus will give him.

O joy! O gratitude! O love of the heavenly Father! He cleanses us from all defilement,
honors us, enriches us, bestowing His riches! There, my golden sister, there are no crafty
people to wrong us. Envy and jealousy will have disappeared. There are no passions there
whatsoever; those who have them have remained on the other side of the bridge. For a
great gulf is fixed between here and there. [2]

But, O sweet love of Christ, what good didst Thou see in us that Thou didst lead us along
Thy divine path?

So rejoice and exult, my beloved sister. Thank and glorify God, and behold, the time draws
near. The time will soon come for us to hear the blessed voice, "Come unto me." [3] And as
soon as these bodily eyes close, the noetic eyes of the soul will open. Then as if from sleep
we shall wake up into the other life. Then you will see parents, brothers, relatives. Then you
will see angels, saints, and the blessed Mother of all, the pure Virgin Theotokos, whom we
all call upon at every moment and to whom, after God, we owe everything. Then, whom
shall we speak with first, who will kiss us first, whom shall we kiss? With all purity, with all
modesty, with all holiness. So who, expecting such blessings, would not endure every
sorrow here of this present life?

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Therefore, my good beloved sister, make a review of your life. Examine in what manner you
have passed your life. Recall the innumerable benefactions of our Savior Jesus Christ and
His sweetest Mother, and be patient in the temptations that come.

God always helps. He always comes in time, but patience is necessary. He hears us
immediately when we cry out to Him, but not in accordance with our own way of thinking.

You think that your voice did not immediately reach the saints, our Panagia, and Christ. On
the contrary, even before you cried out, the saints rushed to your aid, knowing that you
would call upon them and seek their God-given protection. However, since you do not see
beyond what is apparent and do not know how God governs the world, you want your
request to be fulfilled like lightning. But this is not how things are. The Lord wants patience.
He wants you to show your faith. You cannot just pray like a parrot. It is necessary also to
work towards whatever one prays for, and then to learn to wait. You see that what you
longed for in the past has finally happened. However, you were harmed because you didn't
have the patience to wait, in which case you would have gained both the one and the other:
both the temporal and the eternal.

Now you become angry and fainthearted and grieved, thinking that the heavenly Father is
slow in answering. But I tell you that this will also happen as you desire​it will definitely
happen​but first it takes prayer with all your soul, and then you must wait. And when you
have forgotten your request and have ceased asking for it, it will come to you as a reward
for your patience and endurance. When you reach the verge of despair while praying and
seeking, then the fulfillment of your request is near. Christ wants to heal some hidden
passion within you, and this is why He delays in granting your request. If you obtain it
sooner, when you demand it, your passion remains uncured within you. If you wait, you
obtain your request and the cure of the passion. And then you rejoice exceedingly and give
warm thanks to God Who arranges all things in wisdom and does everything for our benefit.

So then, there is no point in losing heart, getting upset, complaining. You must close your
mouth. Let no one perceive that you are disturbed. Don't fume with anger, as if to work it
out of your system, but rather be calm. Burn the devil through patience and forbearance.

The Lord, Who destroys all who speak lies, is my witness that I have greatly benefited by
the advice I am giving you. The temptations I had were strong enough to make you think
that your soul would depart due to the pain, as if from a flaming furnace. Nevertheless,
once the trial is over, so much consolation comes that you feel as if you were in paradise
without a body. Then Christ loves you, our Panagia loves you, the saints praise you, and
the angels admire you.

Do you see how many good things temptations and afflictions cause? So if you too want to
see, to taste the love of Christ, endure whatever comes upon you​not whatever you like, but
whatever the Lord wants to test you with. What we buffer voluntarily is absolutely nothing in
comparison with the trials the Lord sends us against our will. The hostile devil fights us
bone against bone and blood against blood, as much as God allows. He fights so much,
that one melts and flows like wax before the fire. [4] But when the trial passes, you are

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totally filled with joy. You are encompassed with extraordinary light and see mysteries
which the human tongue is unable to utter. And henceforth you thirst for more temptations,
when they will come again, since you have already learned how salutary they are.

This is truly the road, my sister, and the one writing to you bears witness to the truth out of
his own experience. So be brave and strong in the Lord, enduring whatever comes to you,
expecting, along with the pain, the peace and grace of God. Be strong and give courage to
your soul, considering that the lame and the maimed do not enter into these good things.
Christ allows temptations so that we may be purified of our predispositions. Temptations
are like soap and a mallet which hits us and whitens us. All the clothes that are firm are
useful for the Bridegroom. But those which do not endure the mallet are torn and thrown
out in the trash.

Therefore, let us exert ourselves a little bit here, for the time draws near. Keep the letters I
send you, so that you will have them when afflictions trouble you, because it seems to me
that I shall soon leave you. The more that time passes, the more seriously ill I become. I am
like a paralytic now.

Postscript: I don't have time to write to you about the miracle that the Lord showed me to
correct a mistake I was making out of ignorance, as you know. So, do you see the great
goodness of our Lord? Do you see that He even works miracles when His divine
providence deems it suitable? Many times a person is deluded out of ignorance or because
others mislead him. But when he has an upright soul and good intentions, the Lord does
not abandon him, but will bring him enlightenment in various ways. This makes me feel like
dirt, ash, and a worm of the earth.

Most truly, great is the mercy of the Lord. The Psalmist is right in saying, "Not according to
our sins hath He dealt with us, nor according to our iniquities hath He rewarded us." [5]

So then, why shouldn't you thank God? Why should you grumble? If I were to write to you
the temptations I undergo, you would not be able to bear it. Nevertheless, the grace of
Christ and our Panagia dispels them all. Have patience, for the Theotokos, the Queen and
Lady of all, does not abandon us. She prays for us.

Endnotes
1. Ps. 102:1
2. cf. Lk. 16:26
3. Mt. 11:28
4. Ps. 67:2
5. Ps. 102:9

Fiftieth Letter
Who knows, my child, the judgments of God?

Who knows, my child, the judgments of God? Everything is known to Him. He sees
everything and nothing escapes His notice, but no one knows His will. The works of Satan
are nothing next to the power of God. So when the Lord tests us as He knows best, we
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should show our patience and thankfulness.

Now then, my child, if His divine will is in accordance to our desire, certainly you will get
well. But if He foresees something that we do not know​since as God He sees and judges
differently from above​then you will not get well. Nevertheless, we do not lose our reward: it
is stored up in His kingdom. So be patient and struggle.

Just recently, on the eve of St. Catherine's, I had a great struggle with Satan because of
you. A visible fight. I was wondering if perhaps you had gotten well. He was furious,
screaming. I stood at prayer all night for you and all day as well, so that God might show
mercy. Finally he left and did not come back. So tell me how you are doing, how you are
getting along. Is Satan troubling you? Have patience.

It is in this manner that you should pray: "I, my dear God, I want You to make me well so
that I may bless and glorify You. But on the other hand, if You know differently what is
profitable for the salvation of my soul, may Your will be done."

The All-good God, my good child, does not do anything that is not for the benefit of our
soul. Whether it be an illness or a temptation, whatever He lets happen to us, He does for
our benefit. Many times we grumble, become indignant, and do many bad things. Whereas
He, out of His great love, has only our soul's best interest in mind. For He knows that we
are here temporarily and that everything will soon pass. When this exile of ours ends and
the true eyes of our soul open, then we shall gratefully thank Him for everything.

So then, my good child, always have patience. I am informed that God gave you this trial
because of your kindness. But whenever He wills, He can take it away.

When I saw your parents, I told them to go to their spiritual father; to confess everything
which they have never yet confessed, to say everything clearly, to remember any sinful
thing since childhood that they have forgotten. For without frank confession, neither are you
helped, nor do they go to paradise. In confession, your father should tell about the oath
took, your mother should tell about the burden she carries since the first years of her
marriage, and likewise, all your siblings should confess everything. Everyone in the house
should make a general confession​to be cleansed, unburdened, and to become children of
eternal life.

And you, my child, write to me about whatever happens to you, and do not be afraid of the
tempter. Just say the prayer without ceasing. He, my dear child, is the tempter​the devil​and
only the prayer burns him, and fasting severs his nerves; it unnerves him.

So, have infinite patience and thanksgiving; pray and fast intensely, and may God destroy
him. I am praying for your health, for your happiness, as well as for your parents and
siblings. Let them be careful; let them exert themselves; let them take care of their
salvation.

Fifty-fourth Letter
Living in the wilderness has its own struggles, whereas living in the world has many other
different kinds of struggles.

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You yourself know from experience that wherever we may be, my son, we need much
patience. Living in the wilderness has its own struggles, whereas living in the world has
many other different kinds of struggles. So be brave. And since you have chosen this
burden, bear it with fear of God.

And believe me, my child, I shall forcibly gather my strength, weakened and deadened from
the toils, to entreat God that you suffer no harm from the foolish plots of the enemies of our
faith. However, if it is written from above you will undergo some trial for the benefit of your
soul, I shall beseech God to grant you patience and bravery of soul.

Do not fear. The Masons are devising many plans and want many things, but only if the
Lord of all allows them to. Without His will, as He said, neither a hair nor a leaf falls. [1] He
shall disperse their counsels. [2] For the time being, this is sufficient for us. As for later, let
God, Who keeps us alive, take care of it.

Your endeavors should begin with God and end with God, and do not fear the temptations
that come. For, by the grace of Christ, they dissipate like smoke.

As for that temptation of yours that you mentioned, I think this is the truth: for that demon to
trouble you, it seems that something good is happening that bothers him. But you also gain
much when you are tempted. In addition to the reward for patience, you become practiced
and learn about people. If a stone does not strike against another stone, no spark is
produced. An untried man is completely worthless.

You learned much when you were here, and now you are learning much there. But be
prudent from now on and walk with caution "understanding what the will of the Lord is,
because the days are evil." [3] Learn to redeem the time [4] and the circumstances.

The temptation you have now will pass, but another one will come, because the enemy
never rests. Didn't you see what he said to God when He asked him about Job? [5] It is the
same for all of us. The temptation comes in accordance with one's stature. And you must
endure in order to emerge victorious. Christ, Who sets the contest, allows temptations for
this reason: so that we may gain victories against the enemy, be purged from passions, and
be perfected.

So, struggle and be patient. Do not grow weary. Do not turn back. When you see that you
are exhausted, make a trip here and rest. You will regain your strength and then return
once again to struggle. The struggle lasts for life, and the tempter, wherever you are,
wherever you go, is beside you.

You thought that by departing from here the pressure of the spiritual warfare would cease.
But now you fully realize that there is no such thing as a place without temptation. A person
needs to win in the place where he is being fought,as to bring sorrow and shame to the
devil, and joy and glory to God.

Endnotes
1. cf. Mt. 10:29-30
2. cf. Ps. 32:10
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3. Eph. 5:16-17
4. cf. Eph. 5:16
5. vid. Job 1:6-12

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As for your nervous condition​the anger you mentioned​say the prayer constantly. In this way
grace will settle your nerves. And do not grieve, for the entire world suffers from such
things....

When you say, "Everyone else is happy. Why are we the ones sad?"​this shows that your
life is pleasing to God. For the Lord sends afflictions only when a person does the will of
God. For afflictions are a grace and gift from the Lord. So you are inadvertently confessing
that you are elect children of God. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and
scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."* So take courage, or rather rejoice, because the
Lord loves you very much. Don't be sad anymore.

* Heb. 12:6.

From Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast (Florence, AZ: St.
Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1998), pp. 213-216, 246-248, 257-259, 298-299.
Posted 8/21/2005.

+++

Webmaster note: See also the following scripture passages, as well as quotes from two
holy fathers from modern times:

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh
patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that
the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that
ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4)
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7)
"Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ
Jesus concerning you." (1 Thess. 5:17-18)
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he
receiveth. If ye endure (experience) chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons;
for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:7)
"Strive hard for patient endurance! Do not weaken. Hourly thank God for all. And He
will see to it that good comes of your right attitude." (St. Macarius of Optina)
"Be patient! All will pass​may the Good Lord grant you patience! Remember that
patience is baked at midnight (prayer) and is eaten in the daytime. If you did not pray
at midnight, you will not be patient in the daytime. The Holy Apostles were unable to
keep vigil together with the Savior Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and
that's why they did not have the Divine power to resist the temptations of the next
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day. A little patience! In your patience possess ye your souls (Luke 21:19).... Being
humble-minded, praying, and having discernment, a man draws near to God with
spiritual joy. Thus, he will have many temptations, especially so as to be humbled."
(Elder Dionysios of Kolitsou Skete; from The Orthodox Word [Vol. 41, No. 1 (240), pp.
14-15])

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