– Your Beatitude, which main spiritual advice would you give to our readers on the day of your namesake from the perspective of your personal spiritual experience?
– To learn how to live in your soul wilderness. We can learn how to do it from such saints as the Rev. Onuphrius the Great.
The Lord, teaching us to pray, said: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet (that is, into your soul, into your heart, inside)… and pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6).
A person must turn his soul into a wilderness, where – if not constantly, then from time to time – the mind of a person must live, that is, to go there and to pray there, think and repent of their sins.
Soul wilderness is not the desolation of the soul. In the wilderness of the soul there are no animals of pride, animals of jealousy and fornication, animals of misanthropy malice – our passions and vices, that are spiritual animals in our soul. They do not allow us to enter there and pray to God quietly and peacefully.
In order to make our soul such a fertile wilderness, we must work and fight with ourselves, with our weaknesses, sins, and vices.
By forcing himself to go against sin, a person overcomes sin sometimes, but sometimes he falls instead. But these attempts with God’s help will surely be crowned with success.
Effort overcomes sin. A person makes his efforts, and the Lord, seeing his intentions, gives him grace and power that helps to overcome sin.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us also work hard to be winners in the battle with our passions and vices. Let our soul become a fertile wilderness, where we will be able to go into for praying. Prayers are so necessary for our salvation and for the salvation of the whole world. Then we will become at least a little bit like the Rev. Onuphrius, whose memory the Church is committing today. Today he is in Heaven with all the saints before the throne of God and he prays for us.
– Your Beatitude, what is the main feat of Reverend Onuphrius the Great, your heavenly patron?
Rev. Onuphrius went to the Lord being about seventy-nine years old. However, no one saw him during his life, except Rev. Paphnutius and another elder who taught him hermit life before going to the desert. However, memory about him is still preserved in people’s hearts. In human history there were many rulers, philosophers, thinkers, constantly presenting in the public service square, who lay themselves out to the world every day, declared their vision, thoughts, and desires. However, the world forgot them a long time ago, and their portraits are covered with dust and cobwebs. While the world remembers and will remember forever the monks who lived in the wilderness and loved God, who prayed for everyone. They will be remembered forever because “the memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7).
When we hear about such a life story, we often ask ourselves: “What can we learn from such a saint?”
Of course, a hermit cannot be a role model for us in the literal sense. Such saints are given to us so that we marvel at the grace of God. We will not be able to live like the Rev. Onuphrius the Great. However, we must ask for help from the saint to acquire the grace of God, that strengthens us to perform feasible feats.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds