Saint Joseph the Hesychast: Only Prayer, Fervent Faith and Tears

My child, I pray for your health.

Only now I myself feel a little better.

And my whole life passed in this way – in suffering and illness. And now again for your sake I have come close to death. I said [to myself]: “Let me die, if only my spiritual children would live.” So I didn’t eat at all. I was emaciated before. And now again, complete fasting. You have sent so many sweets, and I have not even tasted them. Haven’t tasted the cheese. Just boiled greens without bread. A little time passed, and I fell ill. One hundred and twenty injections … Three times they were up all night with me, [thinking] that I would die. Everyone was called to me. I blessed them one last time. They cried over me day and night. And finally I came back [to life] again. One special medicine was sent to me, and it, with the help of God, brought me healing. For forty days I have not eaten [anything]. And when I took this medicine, I ate, fell asleep, felt better. Glory to Thee, O Lord! I began to move somehow, to write.

As long as I live, my child, I will pray for you, until you write that you have recovered. And if I do die, you will remember that this elder fell ill and died to save you.

Take heart! You are not alone. There are many people. Many came to me – and they were healed by prayer and fast. Now, however, the Lord does not hear me, so that I know what medicines and doctors are. So that I become non-judgemental towards others.

I also read the letters of Saint Nektarios and saw with what respect he treated doctors and medicines, such a great saint! And I, a poor hermit, grew old in the desert and wanted to heal only by faith. Now I also know that both medicine and grace are required. So, now I will also speak like this saint: “Try to get well. Steady your nerves in any way possible and you will find your prayer and peace again. ” 

Take care to help yourself as much as you can. Control your appetite: do not eat something you know as bad for your health. Fried, salted, sauces, pork, [in general] meat, smoked fish, alcohol – avoid all this, and this will be reckoned to you as fast before the Lord. And do not ask, my child, in your thought: why does this or that happen? God’s judgments are a great deep (Psalm 36:6).  Let Glory be to the Lord, Who loves us all. His love is known in our sickness and sorrow. “For my strength, – He said, – is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This love of Christ made me grieve and suffer with you. Just don’t be afraid of temptation. This is a challenge. God leaves us as far as He sees fit. And in the end, His goodness will prevail. 

Now I have twenty-five drams of bread a day and a little food, and an all night vigil. Satan comes and roars from afar, but doesn’t get close. He goes to your brothers and frightens them with visions. Let them not be afraid. At first, for eight years, demons fought with me in all ways, so I could not sleep lying, only standing or sitting and just a little.

So, don’t be afraid. Only prayer, fervent faith and tears. Only if someone sins, let him fear the devil. Then the enemy can harm him, for the Lord leaves [a sinner].

From The Exposition of Monastic Experience. Letter 49.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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  1. Was the last sentence in the exposition correct; or should it have said “for the Lord loves a sinner and not leaves. Thanx, Michael

    1. Dear Michael, it is correct. The Russian variant for this sentence is “Тогда может враг сделать ему зло, ибо [согрешающего] оставляет Господь.”

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