About the irresistible will of God
Saint St Nikolai (Velimirović), Bishop of Ochrid
“I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).
If anyone still doubts that God spoke through the prophets, let him read this confession of the great prophet Jeremiah and let him doubt no more. The prophet confesses that he had decided not to speak anymore in the Name of the Lord. Why? Because so few paid attention to his word. If anyone heeded his word the prophet endured “reproach and derision daily” (Jeremiah 20:8).
But, when he decided to remain silent, did he, in fact, remain silent? No, he could not: “I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it!” He was so pressed by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God upon him to speak and he had to speak. It is, therefore, not the affair of the prophet whether he is going to speak or not: that is the affair of the All-powerful Spirit of God. The prophet is merely the chosen vessel of the All-powerful Spirit of God. All of Holy Scripture is written thusly – not according to the will of man but according to the will of God, and not according to the mind of man but according to the mind of God.
How does the word of God feel when it enters the prophet from the Spirit of God; this the great Jeremiah explains from his personal experience: “It becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.” That means, inspiration from the All-powerful Spirit of God. Under such irresistible internal pressure – as under the pressure of fire imprisoned in my bones – wrote the holy man of God. And many of them cried out: “I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it anymore.” Who will go against the Spirit of God without punishment and destruction? Who will withstand Him when He wants to say something or to do something?
Only my brethren, the action of God the Holy Spirit is irresistible!
O All-powerful Spirit of God, direct us irresistibly on the path of salvation.
Prologue from Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic
Saint Isidora, the Fool for Christ of Tabennisi Monastery
Commemorated on May 1
At the Convent of the Great Pachomios, in Tabennesis, there lived another nun, Isidora, who pretended, for Christ’s sake, to be insane and a demoniac.
To such an extent did the others abhor her, that they did not eat with her; this is something that she, herself, had chosen. She moved about the kitchen doing every sort of chore, and was, as they say, the scrubbing-cloth of the monastery, while she put into practice the command: “Whosoever of you believes that he is wise by the measure of this world, may he become a fool, so as to become truly wise.”
She served the Convent with a rag wrapped around her head, while all of the others had their hair cropped short and wore koukoulia.
Not one of the four-hundred nuns had ever seen her eat normally so much as once in her life. She swept the Trapeza and washed the pots; the crumbs and leftovers were sufficient for her, because she never sat at table nor touched a piece of bread.
Never did she insult anyone, never was she resentful, and never did she utter a superfluous word, despite the fact that they buffeted her, insulted her, railed at her and spit at her.
An Angel appeared to St. Piteroum, a man confirmed in virtues who lived in asceticism on Mt. Porphyrite, and said to him:
“Why do you boast that you are pious by remaining in this place? Would you like to meet a woman who is more pious than you? Go to the Convent of those of Tabennesis, and there you will find a nun who wears a crown on her head. She is superior to you. She contends with such a multitude, and yet her heart has never distanced itself from God. As for you, you sit here, but your mind wanders through the cities.”
Hence, he who had never before left his cell arose and besought the spiritual Fathers to allow him to visit the Convent. Since he was a renowned Elder, they gave him leave.
When he entered, he asked to see all of the nuns, but St. Isidora did not appear. Finally, he said to them: “Bring them all to me. One is missing.” They answered him: “There is one more in the kitchen who is a fool.” (So do they call those possessed by a demon.) He said to them: “Bring her to me also. Allow me to see her.” They went and called her, but she did not submit, either because she understood what was about to happen or because it had been revealed to her. So they dragged her by force, telling her: “The holy Piteroum wishes to see you” (he was, to be sure, well known).
When she had presented herself, the Saint noticed the rag on her forehead (her “crown”), fell down before her, and said: “Bless me.” In the same way, she also fell at his feet, saying: “You bless me, my lord.”
Astonished, they all told him: “Abba, do not debase yourself; she is a fool.” Piteroum silenced them with the words: “You are the fools; she is my and your Amma—thus are spiritual Mothers called—, and I pray that I might be found to be her equal on the Day of Judgment.”
Having heard these things, the nuns fell at his feet, and each one confessed the ways in which she had affronted the Saint. One said that she poured filthy dish water on her, another that she struck her with her fists, and yet another that she had smeared her nostrils with mustard. All of them confessed the outrages they had committed against her. St. Piteroum prayed for them and departed.
Several days having passed, the fool was not able to bear the glory and honors shown to her by her sisters and, having wearied of their apologies, she left the monastery in secret. No one ever learned where she went, where she hid herself, or how she died.
Source: Demetrios Tsasmes, Meterikon, Vol. I (Thessaloniki: 1990), pp. 130-135.
*St. Pitirim of Egypt (4th century), disciple of St. Anthony the Great an anchorite who lived in solitude in the arid mountains of the Thebaid on Mt. Porphyrite .(Mountain of Porphyry) at Jebel Abu Dukhan the Eastern Desert.
Commemorated on November 29
After the Polyeleos, the Sedalion: In Tone IV:
Spec. Mel.: Speedily prevent.
Thou appearest wonderful in thine endurance, * pleasing unto Christ in every way; * thou hast, O most blessed Isidora, * strengthened thy soul with wise contemplations, * and subjugated the flesh to the spirit; * electing to practice virtue in order to labor wholly for God’s sake, * manfully didst thou say: * The winter may be severe, but paradise is sweet; * painful is the work, but blessed is the spiritual meadow. * Wherefore, O most blessed one, supplicate Christ our God to save our souls.
The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke [LK. 6:17-23]
At that time, Jesus: came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their Fathers unto the Prophets.
The Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon [3,1-9].
The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction, but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded, for God proved them and found them worthy for Himself. As gold in the furnace hath He tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that put their trust in Him shall understand the truth; and such as be faithful in love shall abide with Him; for grace and mercy is to His saints and visitation for His elect.