No Matter How Many Words You Say, It Won’t Do Any Good

For I have seen and experienced in many ways that if the grace of God does not enlighten a man, then no matter how many words you say, it will not work. He will listen to them for a while, and the next moment he will turn back to his own way of looking at things, as if he were a hostage. However, if grace comes along with the word, then, with the person’s good will, the change takes place in the same hour. Since that hour, his life changes miraculously. However, this happens only to those who have not hardened their inner hearing and conscience. Those who hear and remain defiant in their evil desires, even though you talk to them day and night, even though you pour [all] the wisdom of the Fathers into their ears, even though you work miracles before their eyes, even though you turn the Nile on them, they won’t benefit from it. They want to come only to talk, to pass the time, to entertain their despondency. So that’s why I close the door, and at least I myself benefit from prayer and silence. God always hears it when we pray for other people, while He always turns away from idle talk, even if it seems to be spiritual. After all, according to the Fathers, idle talk is primarily about spending your time talking without doing anything.

Now, do not listen to anything people say if they have not tried it first.

If someone has not tried something, they must try it, and they will find out what they lack from the experience. You can’t buy experience. Everyone obtains it as he or she does his or her work and sheds blood for it.

From The Exposition of Monastic Experience. Letter 27.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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