Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Importance of Having a Merciful Soul

Elder Porphyrios (February 7, 1906 - December 2, 1991)

The following is from one of my favorite books of all times, Wounded by Love:  The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios (pgs. 213-214).  This section is entitled 'The noise of murmurings shall not be hidden' which are words spoken by the Wise King Solomon. The Elder's reflection is on the necessity of having a merciful soul.  This marvelous book can be purchased here from Uncut Mountain Supply. 

Within us there is a part of the soul called the 'moralist'.  This 'moralist', when it sees someone going astray, is roused to indignation, even though very often the person who judges has strayed in the same way.  He does not, however, take this as an occasion to condemn himself, but the other person.  This is not what God wants.  Christ [through St. Paul] says in the Gospel:  You, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself?  While you preach against stealing, do you steal? Romans 2:21 It may be that we do not steal, but we commit murder;  we reproach the other person and not ourselves.  We say, for example: 'You should have done that and you didn't do it.  So see now what's happened to you!'  When we think of evil, then it can actually happen.  In a mysterious and hidden manner we diminish the power of the other person to move towards what is good, and we do him harm.  We can become the occasion for him to fall ill, to lose his job or his property.  In this way we do harm, not only to our neighbor, but also to ourselves, because we distance ourselves from the grace of God.  And then we pray and our prayers are not heard.  We 'ask and not receive'. James 4:3 Why?  Have we ever thought of this? 'Because we ask wrongly.' James 4:3  We need to find a way to heal the tendency within us to feel and think evil of others.

It's possible for someone to say, 'The way that person is behaving, he will be punished by God,' and to believe that he is saying this without evil intent.  It is not a simple thing, however, to discern whether he had or does not have evil intent.  It does not appear clearly.  What is hidden in our soul and how that can exercise influence on people is a very secret matter.

The same is not true if we say with a sense of awe that another person is not living well and that we should pray to God to help him and grant him repentance;  that is, neither do we say, nor deep down do we desire that God will punish him for what he does.  In this case not only do we not do harm to our neighbor, but we do him good.  When someone prays for his neighbor, a good force proceeds from him and heals, strengthens and revives him.  It is a mystery how this force leaves us.  But, in truth, the person who has good within him radiates this good power to others, mystically and gently.  He sends light to his neighbor and this creates a shield around him and protects him from evil.  When we possess a good disposition towards others and pray, then we heal our fellows and we help them progress towards God.

There is an invisible life, the life of the soul.  This is very powerful and can have effect on the other, even if we are miles apart.  This also happens with the curse, which is power that works evil.  But if, conversely, we pray with love for someone, whatever the distance that separates us, the good is transmitted.  So distances do not affect the power of good and evil.  We can transmit these across boundless distances.  Solomon the Wise [King Solomon] says this very thing: 'The noise of murmurings shall not be hidden.'  Wisdom of Solomon 1:10  The noise of our soul is transmitted mysteriously and affects the other, even if we don't say a word.  Even without speaking we can transmit good or evil, irrespective of the distance which separates us from our neighbor.  What is not expressed generally has greater power than words.