On the condition of man.
People, until they come to know something greater, are satisfied with the little that they have. Man is like a village rooster who lives in a small enclosure with few people and farm animals about, who knows his ten hens and is content with this life, because he knows no more. But an eagle, who circles high in the clouds, and sees great distances with his sharp eyes, who hears the sounds of the earth and revels in its beauty, who knows many lands, seas and rivers, and sees a multitude of animals and birds, would not be content to live in a small enclosure with a rooster.
It is the same in spiritual life. Whoever has not known the grace of the Holy Spirit is like the rooster who does not know the flight of the eagle; he cannot comprehend the sweetness of tender emotion and love of God. He knows God from nature and from Scripture, he is satisfied with the law and is content with his lot as is the rooster, and does not feel sorrow that he is not an eagle. But he who has experienced the Lord through the Holy Spirit, he prays day and night, because the grace of the Holy Spirit calls him to love the Lord, and the sweetness of the Lord’s love gives him the ability to carry the burdens of the world with ease; his soul pines only for the Lord and searches constantly for the grace of the Holy Spirit.
We are all suffering on this earth and searching for freedom, but few know what freedom is and where it can be found. The Lord gives the repentant His peace and the freedom to love Him. Oh, my brothers, all the earth, repent while you still have time. God awaits our repentance with mercy. And all the heavens, all the saints await our repentance. As God is love, so the Holy Spirit in the saints is love. Ask, and the Lord shall forgive. And when you receive absolution from your sins, then your soul will be joyful and happy, and the grace of the Holy Spirit will enter your soul, and you will say, "Here is true freedom: it is in God and of God."
The grace of God does not hinder freedom, but only helps to keep the commandments of God. Adam was in grace, and his will was not fettered. So too the angels are in the Holy Spirit, but their free will is not taken away.
The Lord wants us to love each other; this is the essence of freedom — love for God and for your neighbor. This is both freedom and equality. But in earthly titles there can be no equality; this is of no concern to the soul, however. Not everyone can be a king or a prince; not everyone can be a patriarch or an abbot, or a leader, but no matter what your title you can love God and serve Him, and that is all that matters. And whoever loves God more on earth shall be in greater glory in the Kingdom.
When you have no kind mentors, then you must submit humbly to the will of God. And then the Lord will make you wiser with His grace, for the Lord loves us more than words can describe.
It is a great goodness to submit to the will of God. Then your soul is filled with the Lord only, and it has no other thought, it prays to God with a special purity, and feels the love of God, even though the body may suffer. When the soul has submitted wholly to the will of God, then the Lord Himself begins to lead it, and the soul learns directly from God, where before it had learnt from teachers and Scripture. But it is very rare that the Teacher of a soul should be the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit, and few know of this, except those who live according to the will of God.
The proud do not wish to live according to the will of God, they prefer to direct their own lives, and they do not understand that man lacks the capacity to direct his own life without God. And when I lived in the world and did not know the Lord and His Holy Spirit, I did not know how much the Lord loved us; I only depended on my own abilities. But when through the Holy Spirit I felt the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then my soul submitted to God, and everything wicked that befalls me I accept with the words, "The Lord watcheth over me, what have I to fear?" Previously, I could not live like this.
The most precious thing on earth is to know God and at least in part understand His will. The soul that has felt God must submit to his will in everything and live before Him in fear and love. In love, because the Lord is love. In fear, because it must be afraid to insult God by some evil thought.
How do you know whether you are living according to the will of God? Here is a sign: if you long for some thing, then you have not submitted to the will of God, even though you may think that you live according to His will. Whoever lives according to the will of God does not concern himself with anything. And if he needs some thing, then he submits himself and that thing to God; and if he does not receive it, then he remains content as though he had received it. The soul which has submitted to the will of God, fears nothing: neither storm nor bandits; nothing. And whatever should happen, it says, "It is God’s will." If the body is ill, the soul thinks, "Then I am in need of this illness, otherwise God would not have given it to me." And so the body and the soul remain at peace.
Any soul that feels burdened by doubt must appeal to the Lord, and the Lord shall answer it. But in general, this should only be done in an hour of crisis and confusion; ordinarily, one should appeal to a confessor, for this is an expression of humility. The Lord has provided for the Holy Spirit to be present on earth, and those in whom He lives feel Heaven in their hearts. Perhaps you ask, why do I not feel such grace? Because you have not submitted to the will of God, but live according to your own.
We must always pray, so that the Lord will tell us what we must do, and the Lord will not leave us in confusion. Adam was unwise not to ask the Lord about the fruit brought to him by Eve, and so lost Eden. David did not ask the Lord, "will it be good if I take for myself the wife of Uriah?" and so fell into the sins of murder and adultery. And so all the saints who have sinned, sinned because they did not call upon God for help and spiritual guidance. Saint Serafim of Sarov once said, "When I spoke of my own mind, I made mistakes."
If you speak or write of God, then pray and ask the Lord for help and guidance, and the Lord will aid and teach you. And if you are bewildered, bow three times and say, "Merciful Lord, You see that my soul is confused, and I fear falling into sin, guide me, oh Lord." And the Lord will certainly direct you because He is very close to you. If you doubt this, then you will not receive that for which you ask. Thus the Lord said to Peter, "Why did you doubt, you of little faith" (Matthew 14:31), when Peter began to drown in the water. It is the same with the soul that begins to drown in evil thoughts when it enters into doubt.
And so, only the Lord knows all; as for us, whoever we are, we must pray to God for enlightenment and turn to our spiritual confessors, so as not to make mistakes.