It Is Impossible to Escape Delusion without Confession

Extracts from the book by Archimandrite Sofronii. "Saint Silouan the Athonite".

St. Silouan the Athonite

Beware these two thoughts, and fear them. The first suggests "You are a saint;" the other, "You will not be saved". Both come from the enemy, and there is no truth in them.

Instead, think to yourself, "I am a great sinner but the Lord is merciful. He loves man with a great love, and will forgive my sins."

Evil thoughts afflict the pride soul, and until she humbles herself she knows no rest from them.

Be assured of this - if evil thoughts torment you, it means that you are not humble. The Lord said, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

Without Christ-like humility the soul will never be at rest in God - she will always be agitated by divers thoughts and impulses which will not let her contemplate God.

The Lord gives the soul understanding to recognize His coming, to love Him and do His will. Fight the enemy with the weapon of humility.

Man falls under the spell of delusions either because he is unpractised or through pride. If it is because of inexperience, the Lord is swift to heal, but if pride is the cause, the soul must suffer long until she learns humility, and then the Lord will restore her to health.

We fall and are beguiled when we chink ourselves more intelligent and more practised than others, even our spiritual father. In my inexperience I thought this once, and suffered for it; and I give heartfelt thanks to God that through this He humbled me and gave me understanding, and did not remove His mercy from me. And now I think that it is impossible to escape beguilement unless we make confession to our spiritual father, for to a confessor the Lord has given power to loose and to bind.

If you see a light within yourself, or outside, put no trust in it unless at the same rime as you see the light, your heart within you is melted to tenderness for God and love for your neighbour; but have no fear either. Humble yourself, and the light will disappear.

If you see some vision or image, or dream a dream, put not your trust in it, for if it be from God the Lord will enlighten you. The soul that does not know the savour of the Holy Spirit is unable to apprehend the origin of a vision. The enemy offers the soul sweetness intermixed with vain self-satisfaction, and thereby is the presence of beguilement.

When we weep tor our sins and humble our soul, we do not see visions, and the soul has no desire for them; whereas when we give up weeping, and forsake humility, we may be attracted to seeing visions.

For a long time I did not understand why we must continue with contrite hearts once the Lord has forgiven us our sins. But afterwards I understood that where contrition is missing, one cannot hold out in humility; for evil spirits are proud and would instil pride in us, whereas the Lord teaches meekness, humility and love, and through these the soul.

The Lord loves the soul that is valiant and sage, and if we have neither courage nor good sense, we must ask God for them, and listen to our spiritual fathers — in them lives the grace of the Holy Spirit. In particular, the man whose mind has suffered harm from the working of the devil should in no wise trust himself but always listen to his confessor.

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