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May - June 2004

FOR CONSIDERATION: On the Silent and Invisible Warfare
(taken from The Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander)

Now that we know where the battle we have just begun is to be fought, and what and where our goal is, we also understand why our warfare ought to be called the invisible warfare. It all takes place in the heart, and in silence, deep within us; and this is another serious matter, on which the holy Fathers lay much stress: keep your lips tight shut on your secret! If one opens the door of a steam bath the heat escapes, and the treatment loses its benefit.

Thus say nothing to anyone of your newly conceived purpose. Say nothing of the new life you have begun or of the experiment you are making and experiences you expect to have. All this is a matter between God and you, and only between you two. The only exception might be your father-confessor. This silence is necessary because all chatter about one's own concerns nourishes self- preoccupation and self-trust. And these must be stifled first of all! Through stillness one's trust grows in Him who sees what is hidden; through silence one talks with Him who hears without words. To come to Him is your endeavour, and in Him shall be all your confidence: you are anchored in eternity, and in eternity there are no words.

Hereafter you will consider that everything that happens to you, both great and small, is sent by God to help you in your warfare. He alone knows what is necessary for you and what you need at the moment: adversity and prosperity, temptation and fall. Nothing happens accidentally or in such a way that you cannot learn from it: you must understand this at once, for this is how your trust grows in the Lord whom you have chosen to follow.

Still another piece of information the saints offer on the way: you should see yourself as a child who is setting out to learn the first sounds of letters and who is taking his first tottering steps. All worldy wisdom and all the skills you may have are totally worthless in the warfare that awaits you, and equally without value are your social standing and your possessions. Property that is not used in the Lord's service is a burden, and knowledge that does not engage the heart is barren and therefore harmful, because it is presumptuous. It is called naked, for it is without warmth and fosters no love. You must thus abandon all your knowledge and become a dunce in order to be wise; you must become a pauper in order to be rich, and a weakling if you wish to be strong.

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