Elder Ieronymos ,the Hesychast of Aegina
– How is spiritual life? Be attentive to your feelings. Pray – wherever you may be. Do not look with curiosity on the sides. When I’m coming from Aegina to my cell, I do not look in the windows or at the doors. Even unwillingly one may see something and be lured. When you go your way, say the Creed or any other prayer, and God shall keep you from temptations. If someone be lured by your behavior, then you are going to give an answer for it on the Judgment Day. Take up and keep this rule of life: no matter who you come across with, try to either get spiritual benefit from him or to instruct him yourselves, but otherwise – go away. When you feel you might be tempted or lured, then with no second thought go farther away. If you remember in prayer me or anybody else, then immediately chase away that remembrance, because at this moment that man is your greatest enemy as he diverts you from prayer. Resist evil thoughts, have the strength to chase them away. If you are not doing what your thought suggests, this is no sin. Sin is an act and not the thought’s adposition. But thoughts become our passions if we are not combating them. Were you to call on Christ and the Theotokos, then you will soon be free from evil thoughts. After some good deed and spiritual joy, beware of proud thoughts or else you are going to lose what you have achieved and shall experience strong warfare. The satan was cast out of Paradise not for any evil deed but for his pride.
The elder briefly paused, and then asked:
– Won’t you tell me, which one is stronger – fire or water?
– Hmm… Water [is], father – one of the boys replied.
– And if we have a big fire, will a glass of water extinguish it?
– Fire is stronger, – another one said.
– But if the fire is small and you pour into it a pot of water, won’t it go out?
– Yes, Father[, it will].
– And so, neither water nor fire is stronger, but its quantity is. The same is valid for the spiritual [things], if the worldly were prevalent in us, then it would drown out the spiritual. But if the mind is turned to the spiritual, then it will prevail over the corporal. One must strive in exploits to increase one’s love for God. If one is unable to earn a dollar, then at least – earn a penny. It is no easy thing to acquire virtues. But know this: if we were quick to acquire a virtue, then it won’t take long for us to lose it, but if we get it after strenuous laboring, then it shall not leave us. If you are not patient and persistent for the spiritual [things], then you would break down easily and shall abandon the exploit at the very first difficulties. Do not expect to have in your lives pleasures alone. The path of life has more thorns than flowers; this is why you need to be strong so that nothing would make you hesitant. Even if everything around you hampers you, [still] do not be afraid, only were you yourselves strong and had you Christ in yourselves. The danger for us comes from [within] ourselves and not from anyone else.