Most of the Ascetics Are Temporarily or Permanently in Delusion

Letters of Hegumen Nikon (Vorobyov) to Spiritual Children.

Hegumen Nikon (Vorobyov)

Letter 132

Dear ... !

10 days have already passed since I received your letter, but I didn’t set out to respond.

On your feelings about Bright Matins, I would say that all things work together for good to those who love God. The Holy Fathers say that the kingdom of God does not come with observation. When we will expect the spiritual joys - then we can just (and often it is so) not get them. The right disposition of the soul is to consider yourself unworthy of any spiritual consolation.

Moreover, Venerable John Climacus says, "Drive off with lowly hand every passing joy as something of which you are unworthy, for if you let it in, you may be admitting a wolf instead of a shepherd". This idea is expressed in different forms by all of the Holy Fathers. All people are easily inclined to every sin, and especially to those no less harmful than gross. No one can notice and overcome everything by one’s own forces, only realization of one’s infirmity, poverty, sinfulness, irredeemable indebtedness to God, and hence the incessant cry of the heart (heart is broken  and subsequently contrite), which all the Saints of God had - this is the right spiritual disposition, protecting people from fall, leading to spiritual gifts and protecting these gifts, if they are granted. The ascetic, having no cry of the heart, is in spiritual delusion, i. e. false disposition, and if he does not improve, he may fall into apparent demonic delusion and perish. In our time, all this happens implicitly, but it happens and most [1] of the ascetics are temporarily or permanently in delusion. This matter is rather subtle.

I'm sorry to tell you this, maybe at the wrong time. It scarcely concerns laymen (although, in some respect, of course, it concerns them, but in a simpler form).

So you have overcome your grief and resentment at the chief, and maybe you have also understood that you were properly deprived of the consolation by the judgment of God, to look deeper into yourself and become humble. The success of spiritual life is not measured by spiritual consolations which may be from the Devil as well, but by the depth of humility.

How are you? Forgive me if I wrote poorly, but I assure the correctness. I will not multiply words any longer, hoping to talk to you personally.

Respectfully N.

[1] Translator's note: depending on the stress in the original Russian word, it can be translated also as “large part”, but “most” is closer to the general sense of delusion which “is the state of all men without exception” (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov).

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