12 Thoughts of Athonite Elders on How to Stay Healthy and Defeat Your Diseases


When we give ourselves to Christ, then our spiritual organism is in peace, which allows our organs begin to function naturally. They all depend on our condition. Then we recover and stop suffering… It can also be so in case of cancer: if we trust in God and our soul is calm, then the Divine Grace together with this world can work in such a way that cancer and any other illness will go away. If you do not know, I can tell you that neurosis is the reason of stomach ulcers. The thing is that sympathic nervous system is under pressure; it collapses and suffers, which leads to ulcer. The same we can say about cancer. Both diseases depend on our nervous system. When everything is confused in our soul, it affects our body and undermines our health. (St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia)


If we are sick, it is better to give ourselves to Christ. We should think that our soul needs patience and glorification when we feel pain much more than a body of steel, which lets us perform any corporal feats. (Paisios of Mount Athos)


A nun wrote to me. She said she was suffering and needed surgery. Otherwise she would die. I wrote an answer suggesting otherwise. Then she wrote again: the doctor told her that without an operation a perforation would occur and that would lead to death. I repeated: “Have faith, hope for God’s help and choose death then”. She sent me the answer, saying that her illness went away. You see? I have experienced that a thousand times. When you know you are ready for death and you wait for it to come, it runs away from you. But when you are afraid of it, it will pursue you all the time. (St. Joseph the Hesychast)


Dear child, remedy means poison. Do not think that remedies can only be for our benefit. They can cause harm too. Why do we take meds? Because we are sick. And why are we sick? Because we worry. Why do we worry? Because we sin. If we let Christ inhabit our soul, then sin, nervousness and sickness run away and we throw out our meds. (St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia)


In what era there were so many sick people? In ancient times, people were different. Whatever letter I open now, I always read about cancer, spiritual diseases, blood stroke or family breakdown. Cancer was a rare disease earlier. The life itself was natural. I do not speak now about something that was sent by God. People ate natural food and were in perfect health. Everything was clean: fruits, onions, tomatoes… But now even such a natural food harms a person. Those who eat only fruits and vegetables suffer even more because everything is polluted. If it was like that earlier, I would die young, because I was feeding on what was growing in the garden and I felt wonderful. Now everything is fertilized and sprayed… Just look at what people eat nowadays!.. Spiritual uncertainty, food surrogates – all these things make people suffer. By using science without thinking, people disable themselves. (St. Paisios of Mount Athos)


If you care more about your spiritual health, you will suffer corporally less. You have not to love being treated, but you have to love how to stay in good health. (Monk Simeon the Athonite)


Do not ask God to ease the pain you feel because of your diseases, do not make Him do this in your prayers. Withstand your illness with patience and humility, and then you will see what benefit you will get. (St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia)


If Christ sees that a person can withstand a hard disease, He gives it to him: for this small suffering, a person will get a great benefit in eternal life. We suffer here, but he will get his gain in the next life because there is Heaven and reward for any sufferings. (St. Paisios of Mount Athos)


Temptations, sorrows, grief arising from devil or people of just caused by the world we carry in ourselves – all of these are remedies, all of these are sent by God’s Providence so that we return the spiritual health that we have lost. The health of soul and heart is impassibility, absence of sin and true holiness, which will come with us in the next life. (Elder Ephraim (Moraitis))


When a body is challenged by a disease, a soul gives blessing. Our body – a small mud house – suffers because of it, but our soul – the owner of this house – will constantly rejoice in the heavenly palace, which Christ prepared for us. According to this spiritual logic, which is illogic for people of this world, I am happy with the corporal diseases and disabilities I have. The only thing I do not think about is that I will get a heavenly gain. (St. Paisios of Mount Athos)


Corporal weaknesses are the means serving various intentions of indescribable God’s love. It is appropriate to recall a simple people’s idea saying that a disease is a Divine punishment for sins, while a good health is a reward for goodness. In fact, it all can be on the contrary. The thing is that many saints were burdened with corporal afflictions; at the same time, many of the people, who live in sin and are far from repentance, are never ill. Of course, no one will argue that a soul corrupted by sinful passions is a fertile soil for numerous corporal diseases. On the other hand, a calm and peaceful soul full of Divine tenderness provides with the necessary conditions both for its own healing and for corporal health. However, the health of any person, which comes and goes just like a sea wave, serves God’s pedagogical aims, which are hidden from us but known by His saints. (St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia)


Once a man came to us, who had spent much time in a monastery in Switzerland. He had three severe and incurable diseases. He had spent a lot of money for different remedies. […] I told him the he would recover as soon as he believed that God could heal him. […] …he stayed with me, he did not leave us, but refused to believe too until the moment when God helped, and the man heard the voice clearly, “Why don’t you want to obey to be healed?” Then he became free.  I asked him to eat the opposite – the food about which he said that he would die if he ate that; to leave his knowledge behind and follow the faith, to eat once a day instead of ten times a day as he used to. Three days were enough for the Lord to challenge him, while the only thing I could do at that time was to pray. (St. Joseph the Hesychast)

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