Arise, O My Soul!

From a Spiritual Journal


December 4, 1955

Woe to you, my soul, darkened by passions and shackled by the chains of insensitivity, how long shall I cry, how long shall I weep, how long shall I be torn apart by grief and boundless sorrow? Why do you not rise from your sleep, why do you not break from the claws of your passions, why do you not shatter the chains of negligence and laziness? Why do you not resort to asceticism; why do you not fall down before God and pray in tears?

Woe to you, my soul, blackened and encumbered with passions, hear me when I knock at your door and rise up when I wail at your bedside! But, alas, I have none to mourn and none to pray for, for you do not hear me!

O stiff-necked soul and petrified heart, how long shall I cry alone at your grave where you have lain buried for so many years? O, my soul, what else can I do to make you hear me and repent of your passions? What else can I do for you to be liberated of your terrifying insensitivity? After all, I have been laboring for you alone for so many years to bring you to Christ by repentance, but all in vain.

What else can I do, and what should I have done but did not do for you? Have I not cried so many times? Have I not prayed for you with inexpressible sighs? Have I not tearfully wept at your bedside? What else should I have done but did not do for you?

When you abandoned me and wandered the world for many years, did I not search for you? And when I found you, did not take pity on you? Did I not draw you to Christ? Did I not take you to church so many times, tearfully exhorting you to prostrate and pray? Did I not call you to Confession? Did I not bring you to the Holy Mysteries of Christ, though you were unworthy of them? Did I not inspire you to fulfill the will of God? Did I not try to persuade you not to succumb to the spirit of this world? Did I not feed you with books and soul-profiting words? Did I not take you to people of holy life for guidance?

So, what else ought I to have done but did not do for you? After all, I found you on the streets and brought you to church; you enjoyed your sins, but I directed you to God. And when I saw how deceptive the world is, did I not exhort you to choose the monastic life? Did I not pray to God about it for so many years? Was it not me who convinced you to enter this life?

And when you began this life, what did I not do for you? When you were afflicted, I brought you joy; when you were exhausted, I strengthened you; when you were ill, I cheered you with the thought of health; when you were in despair, I inspired you with hope; when you wept, I wiped away your tears; when you hungered for lack of virtues, I fed you with the desire for Paradise; when you thirsted, I gave you to drink of words of salvation; when you were tired, I soothed you with eternal rest. When you were upset, I comforted you… So, what else ought I to have done that I did not do for you?

When you were overwhelmed by thoughts, I drew your attention away from them; when your mind was scattered, I called you to gather yourself; when you were exhausted from obedience, I strengthened you. When you were exalted in mind, I humbled you with reproach; when you imagined yourself to be perfect, I pulled you down by your foot; when you were filled with rage, I admonished and humbled you with gentle words.

When you were burning with lust in the flesh, I threatened you with the fear of eternal torment; when you were inclined towards sinful thoughts, I took you by the hand and led you to Christ; when you fell into sin, I, sighing incessantly, scolded you, rebuked you, lightly beat you, and then, like a mother, poured the balm of reason on your wound; when you were exhausted in temptations, I served as your support; when you fell completely into insensitivity, then I grieved deeply, and repented, and wept; and if you didn’t come to your senses, I treated you harshly and relentlessly, and scolded you, and whipped you, and exerted myself to the utmost to lift you from this affliction; when you were weak in asceticism, I forced you; when you were lazy, I went to hell with you and awakened you from laziness with the sting of death.

What have I not done for you? After all, I have, as a mother, endured all your infirmity. I nurtured you from an early age, nourished you with the milk of faith, rocked you in my arms, healed you of many diseases, admonished you, rebuked you, restricted you, humbled you, exalted you. At times I praised you, at other times I rebuked you; at times I kept the path with you, at other times I left you. I have sung you songs of sorrow, and joy, but it was almost all in vain! O my soul, so what ought I to have done but did not do for you?

But woe is me, I only now see that there is a deep abyss between us. Only now I see that we have not understood the meaning of our lives. Only now do I realize that you have completely fallen into neglect for your salvation. Arise, my soul, darkened and clouded by passions; rise to repentance.

Arise, my petrified and stiff-necked soul, and flee to Christ through repentance, for behold, your death, Judgment, and condemnation approach. Begin your repentance while there is still a little time.

However, woe is me, you don’t want to listen to me. Woe is me, you stand aloof! Woe is me, woe is you, woe is us at the hour of judgment. Hear my crying and weeping again and arise from the sleep of indifference.

December 6, 1955

What have I not done for you to turn you to repentance and keep you at the Cross of Jesus? I have admonished you like a father, but you treated me like a stranger; l I tried to persuade you with mercy like a mother, but you rebelled against me; I entertained you as a stranger, but you were ungrateful to me; I rebuked and upbraided you as a fair judge, but you didn’t want to hearken at all; I praised you, and you were exalted; I tested you, and you were cast into turmoil.

I sang mournful songs to you, but you did not weep; I sang joyous songs, but you did not rejoice; I battled with you, but you were not humbled; I berated you, but you did not mourn. And no matter what good I tried to do for you, you did not want it and always resisted it. So, what ought I to do now, my soul? For behold, death approaches, and you still have yet to repent, still you wander along crooked paths. You love human praise, you chase after worldly glory, you seek the pleasures of this age, you love gluttony, you stagnate in perfect laziness and terrifying insensitivity, you want to rest; you dream of holiness, you are jealous of the abbacy, you dream of being a spiritual father, but you never contemplate your sins or your death and the Judgment. Come, my soul, that we might judge one another, test one another, confess to one another, make peace with one another, forgive one another, and again find peace…

Come, my soul, embittered and burdened with passions, that we might return to Christ. Come, weary traveler, that we might rest in the shadow of His Cross. Come, hungry and thirsty wanderer, that we might be nourished by His Body and drink of His most precious Blood. Come, you filthy monk, that we might renew our vows and direct our lives according to the will of Christ. Come, estranged brother and orphan, that we might seek rest only from Christ. Come, saddened and aggrieved soul, that we might find a drop of consolation and relief from Jesus. Come, sinful man burdened with worldly cares and the weight of a tarnished conscience, that we might cast off this yoke through Confession before Jesus. With Him is forgiveness, with Him is mercy and grace, with Him is help, with Him is love, with Him is prosperity, with Him is recompense, with Him is salvation.

Come, my soul, come that we might forgive one another, unite, and thus follow Jesus with repentance, humbleness of mind, and sacred obedience.

From the book: Mi-e dor de cer: Viața Pătintelui Ioanichie Bălan. Îgrijt de Arhim. Petru Bălan (I Long for Heaven: The Life of Fr. Ioanichie (Balan), Ed. Archimandrite Petru (Balan). Editura Mănăsirea Sihăstria, 2010. P. 162–166.

Archimandrite Ioanichie (Balan)
Translation by Jesse Dominick


Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 4000

to our mailing list

* indicates required