But in spiritual life desire and thirst are impossible without sacrifice. "Give blood and receive the Spirit," the Church Fathers say. Saint Silouan shows that for us patience can be this sacrifice and blood. Patience is perhaps the most important, but also the most difficult thing for modern man. We live at tremendous speeds on all levels, but we lose touch with the deeper processes of the cosmos and spiritual life. Saint Silouan yearned for God. One can say that he yearned together with all Adam, who loses touch with Heaven more and more. But still he stood firm in the prayer of the heart, "keeping his mind in hell". This is the hell of transient illusions of temporary existence that try to deceive a person with their significance. Saint Silouan "did not despair", trusting God and working for His sake. Such patient work educates the soul, disciplines it, teaches faith and concentration. The patient soul must wage war for attention, not wasting itself on external things and keeping grace. Sometimes it is very difficult to enter through the narrow gates of intelligent attention to spiritual freedom. It is only possible for the one with heartfelt devotion, faith and longing for God. This freedom in the Spirit can only be achieved through slavery to God and the struggle to free oneself from slavery to the world. Saint Silouan walked the path of patience and attention, in which he found humility. This path was the work and sorrow of his soul. In fact it is often sorrow, not so much even in the circumstances of life, but namely sorrow of the soul, that a person undergoes to develop patience. This patience is the spiritual sacrifice, giving birth to humility. And where there is humility, there is no longer greed for one's own, there is no egoism, conceit, vanity, self-significance. In humility, the ego, flesh, passions, authorities and opinions do not reign. It is Christ who reigns in humility, leading the soul into the Kingdom of freedom and the grace of the Spirit. No wonder Saint Silouan wrote that, in fact, all our struggle is for humility.
Saint Silouan showed us the way of spiritual work and the image of prayer and repentance. This is the narrow way of self-changing and liberating the mind to know and see God here on earth. This is the path of true freedom and communion with the Kingdom of grace through humility and simplicity. They are the basis of any prayer and all spiritual life.
Text by Dmitry Ostroumov
All quotes are taken from the book "Saint Silouan the Athonite" by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov).