An Eagle and a Rooster
An eagle was soaring in the sky and enjoying the beauty of the world. The eagle was thinking, “I cover long distances and see valleys and mountains, seas and rivers, meadows and forests. I see many animals and birds, cities and villages where people live. A rooster does not know anything except his own yard, a few people and cattle. I’ll fly and tell him about the greater world.”
The eagle landed on the roof of a village hut and saw the rooster walking amidst his hens bravely and happily. The eagle thought, “He must be satisfied
with his fate, but I think I should tell him about the things that I know anyway.”
The eagle started informing the rooster about the beauty and the richness of this world. The rooster listened to him attentively at first but he could not understand anything. The eagle was disappointed that the rooster did not understand anything. The rooster, on the other hand, was bored and tired of
listening to the eagle because he could not understand anything. However, each one of them was satisfied with their own fate.
This is what happens when an educated person talks with an uneducated person; even more so when a spiritual person talks with a non-spiritual person. A spiritual person is like an eagle, while a non-spiritual person is like a rooster. The spiritual person studies God’s Law day and night and lifts up his soul to God. The non-spiritual person’s mind is bound to earth or busy thinking his idle thoughts. The spiritual person’s soul enjoys peace, while the non-spiritual person’s soul remains empty and unfocused. The spiritual person is like an eagle soaring in the sky, feeling God and seeing the entire world even if he prays in the darkness of the night. The non-spiritual person enjoys vainglory, hoards up wealth or seeks pleasures for his flesh. When a spiritual person meets a non-spiritual one, both of them are bored and tired.
Saint Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938) (Elder Silouan, Part 2, Chapter XXII: A Story of a Young Monk. pp. 432-433).
I’ll Show You the Way
There was a traveler who stopped at the gate of a house by the road. There was a meeting of workers going on inside the house at that time. Suddenly, all was quiet: the workers knelt in prayer. One of the workers, however, went out of the house and started walking around in circles. The traveler asked him:
– What’s going on in the house?
– They are praying to God. I was ashamed, so I left.
The traveler fell silent in anticipation.
– Who are you waiting for? – the worker asked.
– I’m waiting for someone to ask for directions.
– Why don’t you ask me? I’ll show you the way.
The traveler shook his head and replied:
– How can a man who is ashamed of God and his brothers show the right way?
St Nikolaj of Serbia. Missionary Letters. Letter 2: To a Man Who Believes in God but Does Not Pray to Him
How to Become Happy
You keep asking me what you should do to live a better life. I won’t answer; instead, I will let a holy man to respond to your question…
It is said that there was a time of seething dissent among people in the Ancient Egypt, like today. Two brave friends from Alexandria decided to travel around the world to find at least one wise and happy man. They spent a long time searching in vain until they finally met a holy elder who lived alone in the woods. He greeted them with a prostration and welcomed them to his hut. The two travelers talked with him for a long time to make sure that he truly was a man who combined wisdom and happiness. Finally, they exclaimed, “O man of God, we cannot live like you do! How can we be happy?” The man of God started crying. He lifted his eyes to the sky and said through tears, “You don’t need to live like I do. However, if you want to be happy, follow these rules:
- Think about God at least as much as you think about people;
- Fear God at least as much as you fear people;
- Venerate God at least as much as you respect people;
- Pray to God at least as often as you ask people;
- Rely on God at least as much as you rely on people;
- Ask God for help at least as much as you ask people for help;
- Follow the Law of God at least to the same extent as you follow human laws;
- Thank God at least as much as you thank people;
- Praise God at least as much as you praise people.”
The friends heard this life lesson and returned home happily. This is the answer to your question, Brother Stepan. Shout it into your neighbor’s ears. I
can only add that no one can start a high school textbook without studying this ABC first.
St Nikolaj of Serbia. Missionary Letters. Letter 108. To Stepan D., dealing with his question, “What Should I Do to Live Better?”
A Sinner’s Life
There was a man who inherited a lot of money but he used it only to build and decorate his house. He lived in that house alone. He never visited anyone and never welcomed anyone into his own house. He denied himself everything and invested all his wealth into the construction of his mansion. Unshaven and uncut, hungry and in threadbare clothes, the miser poured his wealth only on the mansion where he lived. His neighbors never saw him in all those years but his house was so lavishly decorated that passers-by could not but exclaim in admiration, “Who lives in that mansion? Who is the owner of such a nice house?” However, no one ever saw the house owner’s face. Finally, he wasted all his possessions and was devastated.
One day, a thunderbolt hit the house. The house burned down, and the owner barely survived. People were afraid when they saw him. He looked like a
scarecrow: he was scruffy, dirty, and disheveled. Everyone who saw the man ran away because they thought they had seen a monster. He had to get out of the city and wander in an unknown direction. He met some gang members on the road. “We can use him!” they said. The gangsters caught the man, crippled him, poked out his eyes and broke his legs and arms. They forced him into begging for them.
The house owner symbolizes a sinner’s soul. The great heritage is God’s gifts. Building, fortifying, and decorating one’s house serves as a symbol of caring for one’s flesh and the worldly life. The shabby and hungry man is one’s neglected and malnourished soul. The thunderbolt is the sudden death. The neighbors who fear and despise the house owner are God’s Angels that turn their faces away from the despicable soul of a sinner. The gang members are demons who entrap those who resemble them.
St Nikolaj of Serbia. Missionary Letters. Letter 165, to Joseph T., a locksmith
Alms and a Slap in the Face
I knew a monk who was begging for alms to support orphans. He asked a rich gentleman to “help the orphans for Christ’s sake”. The gentleman slapped him in his face but the monk was not embarrassed. He replied, “That’s for me, thanks. And now give some money to the orphans for Christ’s sake!” The gentleman was ashamed and gave him alms.
St Nikolaj of Serbia. Missionary Letters. Letter 241, to Savvatius N., a pilgrim, on the new and the old zealots
This is what happened in the late 19th century. A girl was going back to school after the Easter vacations and carried some money and a basket with Easter cakes and dyed eggs. A robber killed her on the road but the police quickly caught him. They did not retrieve anything but the eggs. The investigator asked the murderer, “Why didn’t you eat the eggs?” The murderer replied, “How could I? It was a fasting day!”
Sergey Fudel. Memoirs
If you break a pot at the market, the potter will be furious and demand a compensation. Frankly speaking, we humans are made of cheap stuff just like a clay pot but we contain the precious soul and the Holy Spirit that enlightens it.
If we break a pot at the market, it is the potter and not the pot that feels pain. Similarly, if one kills another person, it will be the Lord God who created that person, raised him, and breathed his Holy Spirit into him, who will be hurt and offended.
If a person who breaks a pot must pay a compensation to the potter, then a murderer must make up for the life that he took, too. Even if people don’t demand it, God will. Don’t fool yourself, murderer: even if people forget about your crime, God won’t. See, there are things that even the Lord cannot do. For instance, He cannot forget your crime. Remember it always, especially when you are angry and about to grab a knife or a gun.
On the other hand, we cannot kill life. Killing life completely would mean killing God because life belongs to God. Who can kill God? You can break a pot but you cannot destroy the clay it is made of. Similarly, you can break a human body but you cannot break or burn or scatter his soul and his spirit.
St Nikolaj of Serbia. Explanation of the Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment