On Worthiness

St. Isaac the Syrian, speaking of the miracles of God of which the simple are deemed worthy, writes: “These things happen to the simpler of heart and more fervent in hope.” Who of the mighty of the earth possesses this hope in his heart? Who has received the assurance which is possessed by the despised and the insignificant, who have received mercy from the Lord and have breathed the air of life eternal? No one. Has not the holy mouth of the Lord said to His disciples: “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and did not see them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

And who are these kings and prophets? It is the “wise” and the scientists, those who move humanity and lead it wherever they wish, and whom the sinful world glorifies, regarding them as saviors. It is they who think that they hold the keys to knowledge at the very time when they founder in the darkness of sin, ignorance and death. It is they who occupy themselves with the sciences and search day and night with their dark intellect. It is they who construct engines and rockets to investigate the universe and who have not understood the awesome saying of Christ, who said: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” This is why they occupy themselves only with the external aspect of the world, feeling like blind men the outside of the cup and the platter, while illiterate and simple persons see and hear the great mysteries and understand the cosmos’ true constitution, which is hidden from the arrogant who think that they possess the keys to the mystery of the created world. The wise of this world are those of whom the prophet Isaiah says that they hear and do not understand, who look and do not perceive, and who close their eyes that they may not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and that God may enlighten them! Their pride is like a partition which prevents them from seeing the light. With all their foolish wisdom they are not in a position to understand the words which are understood by humble souls. As St. Isaac says: “Enter the chamber which is within you and you shall see the heavenly palace. For the two are one, and through the same door you see them both.

O blind scientist, you who concern yourself with futile and false things! Blind you shall die, blind shall you reach with your rocket the ends of this material, corruptible world! You think that you possess wisdom and knowledge, and instead you are, unhappy man, outside your own home! You have only learned to make computations and to apply screws which rust and will become dust, as will your own corruptible brain.

You think that you see the light, while you are in utter darkness. You have not seen even a single ray of spiritual truth, at a time when humble and despised persons see the depth of the mysteries of the world and come into contact with eternity, the existence of which you do not even suspect. Labor, search day and night, you slave of arrogance; hurl your machines into the vast space about us. Wherever you read, no matter how far away, you will arrive there the same as you are here—a trivial-souled and despairing dwarf. You will drag your blind pride to the edge of the universe; and you will die there as you would have died here on earth, without having been illuminated by a single ray of truth and estranged from the mercy of God. For “the Lord resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Photios Kontoglou, as quoted by Constantine Cavarnos, Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene of Lesvos (Modern Orthodox Saints, vol. 10), pp 173-175. A translation of excerpts from Kontoglou’s own book on these saints of Karyes, A Great Sign, from 1962.

Kontoglou is focusing here on the humble nature of the many people in Thermi that these saints chose to reveal themselves to, and the positive response of these people, in contrast to the “wise” of his day. And ours. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

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