Spiritual Instructions of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Anger as such is natural. Just as there are nerves in the body, it is the nerve of the soul. We should use it against demons, heretics and everything that hinders the works of God.

But if you are angry against your brothers, with whom you are of one mind, or, being beside yourself, you destroy the works of your own hands, know then that you are afflicted with vanity and that you are abusing the nerve of your soul. This state of mind is cured with love for all people and true humility.

Therefore, when anger comes upon you, close your mouth tightly and do not speak to anyone who offends, dishonors, accuses or tempts you in any way without reason.

That same serpent will then return to your heart, raise to the throat and, not finding a way out, it will strangle itself and burst. After this repeats several times, it will decrease and stop altogether.

Since man was created reasonable and meek, our ways are corrected by love and gentle treatment incomparably better than by anger and rudeness.

So, I say this to you and to everyone: never seek to correct one another with anger, but with humility and sincere love, for one temptation never eliminates another. If you see signs of coming anger, postpone your attempts to amend someone until you see that anger has passed, and that you have regained peace and dispassionate reasoning. Then speak what you find useful.

I have never seen anyone corrected by anger, but love always directs a person to sacrifice himself. So choose the latter.

Think of what makes you become meek? Is it insults or love?

Nothing can help calm anger and all passions as much as love for God and every fellow human being. Love conquers passions easily compared to any other ascetic deeds.

Love does not fail, because you always direct the rudder of your soul towards it. If something happens to you, call out these words, “For the sake of Your love, O Christ, the Sweet Love, I am enduring the scolding of insults, injustice, labors and all sorts of sorrows that had to happen to me”.   As soon as you think about this, your burden will become lighter.

In order for love to appear and begin to act, you need to keep the commandments.

When you get up at night and pray, when you see a sick person and have compassion for him, when you see a widow, orphans and old people and have mercy on them, then God loves you. And then you love Him also. He is the first to show His love and pour out His grace. And then it is truly “His own from His own”[1]  that we offer Him.

Be careful not to judge others, because God then leaves you without His grace, allowing you to fall, so that you humble yourself and see your own mistakes.

Do not reveal your brother’s error for your own justification, for it causes the grace, protecting you until now, to instantly reveal your own errors. God’s grace warms you and keeps you from human slanders in so far as you cover your brother in love.

[1] “Your own from your own we offer you, in every way and for everything” is a priestly exclamation during the offering of the Holy Gifts at the Divine Liturgy (setting forth the proskomedia).  

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Source: https://obitel-minsk.ru/lutschije/2022/01/gora-afon-gora-svyataya-25-yanvarya

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