“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12).
We live in the times which our Lord warned us about in the Gospel, when “the love of many shall grow cold” [Matt 24:12], in the latter times when the Christian Gospel which was received with such fervor by the first Christians has become only one small part of the worldly life that most of us lead, instead of the center and meaning of our life — which is what it should be if we realized what our faith really is. Orthodox Christianity, as a burning faith which we are not ashamed to confess and to have as the most precious thing in our life, is to a great extent in a state of decline and retreat in the world today. by Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose)
The monks ask of the great Abba Ischyrion:
“What have we done?”
“We have fulfilled the commandments of God,” Ischyrion replied.
“And, what will those do who come after us?”
“They will be doing what we are doing, but only half as much.”
“And those after them?”
“Before the end of time, they will not keep the monastic practice [rule] but such misfortunes and temptations will befall them that, through their patience during those assaults and temptations, they will prove themselves greater than us and our fathers in the kingdom of God.”
Abba Copres said, ‘blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.’
Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Saint Ignatius Bryanchaninov indicates that the narrow path has been established by God Himself for His true followers.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ spent His earthly life in the greatest humbleness, being subjected to constant sorrows and harassment, being persecuted, slandered, humiliated by His enemies, who finally sent Him to a shameful death with criminals. The path of salvation that leads to eternal life has been established by the Lord as a narrow way full of sorrows – established both by the Lord’s holy example and by His holy teaching. The Lord advised His disciples and His followers that they would be sorrowful in the world, i.e. during their earthly lives, that the world would hate them, would persecute and humiliate them, would put them to death. The Lord likened His disciples’ and followers’ situation among depraved humanity to that of sheep among wolves. From this we can see that a life on earth full of trials and tribulations is the Lord’s own establishment for His true servants. And being the Lord’s own establishment, it cannot be deflected by any human means, any wisdom, any sensibility, any prudence, any vigilance.”