Fr. John and Fr. Victor Shipovalnikov. A. Solzhenitzyn wrote of Fr. Victor’s sufferings in The Gulag Archipelago.
|Fr. John and Fr. Victor Shipovalnikov. A. Solzhenitzyn wrote of Fr. Victor’s sufferings in The Gulag Archipelago.|
ONE GOAL, DIFFERENT PATHS
Dear in the Lord M.!
There is no such refuge as the one about which you write, not for the monk, nor for the layman—in everything and always, for the whole of one’s life, there is only endless trekking, labor, and sickness, for the monk as well as the layman. The paths are a little different, but the goal is the same. Do not break the world into two parts—the world and the monastery. There is monastic life and family life, and both are blessed by God. But whoever chooses his path should not be double-minded and swing back forth between the world and the monastery.
The old Russian saying is not without wisdom: measure seven times and cut once. This is something that we have forgotten how to do. We do not think things over and try things on, we just cut and cut carelessly, and it all turns out pretty painful. I do not know any elders who try to invade upon the Divine determination which says that people up to the last days of the world will marry and give birth, raise their children, and be saved through this. People must do what they are able to do on their life’s path. The Lord blesses one thing for one person, another thing for another.
I am an old man, and during the time of my youth, when the traditional order of life was clearly falling apart, grace-endowed people were not so bold as to announce the end of history.
Now there are a lot of bold ones, but we have to go on living, we have to save ourselves, and God’s mercy is the same as it always was; but we have become so much cruder that only tangible blows in life bring us a little closer to an awareness of our fragility and turn us to God.
There is no peace. There never is peace, and the Lord brought not peace to the world, but a sword. Now this sword of the Lord severs to the uttermost depths, while comfort, consolation, and an understanding of what is happening can be only in Faith, only in God and with God. May God grant this main awareness, and your soul will then come to thirst for life in the world with God alone, for God alone, and for people in God.
May God grant you wisdom!
Give thanks to God for everything. That we have found ourselves in the Church is not our right, but a gift of God. Acquaint yourself more deeply with the life of St. John Chrysostom. He will console you, he will help.