The Soul’s Yearning for God, part I (The Writings of Staretz Silouan: Wisdom from Mount Athos)

Pp. 37-42

“My soul yearns after God, and I seek him in tears,” writes St. Silouan in both chapters.

Having been granted knowledge of God by the Holy spirit, St. Silouan knows the darkness that befalls the soul from which the presence of God has departed, as he describes in his chapter on love:

But now my soul is overspread with melancholy, and I am unable to lift an undistracted mind to God, and I have no tears wherewith to bewail my evil deeds; my soul is withered away and spent with the night of this life.

So, what is the nature of the love he yearns for? What was missing when the Holy Spirit no longer enabled him to know God and experience His love?

St. Silouan uses the theme of forgetfulness to allow us a glimpse into the state of complete union with God and divine love.

The first kind of forgetfulness refers to the complete and continuous abandonment in the love of God.

Though imperfect humans fall into and out of grace and love, when God enters “our soul is drawn to pray unceasingly and cannot even for a moment forget the Lord.”

Complete love is not a part-time occupation. It is not a feeling we indulge in when we don’t feel pressured or busy with our activities, after we have had adequate “me” time to pamper ourselves, when we are not depressed, sick, worried or unemployed. God and his love are always present and focal. They become the only lens through which we see and experience the world:

But the soul that has come to know the Lord in the Holy Spirit is pierced by His love and cannot forget Him…Blessed is the soul that knows her Creator and has grown to Love Him, for she has found perfect rest in Him

The second kind of forgetfulness is the abandonment of worldly attachments.

The Lord’s love is an ardent love and allows no thought of the earth

It is only when we “forget the earth for the sweetness of the love of God” that we are able to keep God in sight as a constant.

The Holy Spirit is love St. Silouan tells us. Yet this love is fragile. It can be easily “lost to us with the approach of pride and conceit, enmity, fault-finding and envy,” in short, any attachment to worldly things. Unless we “forget” the earthly things, it is impossible to fulfill our yearning for God. We will not be able to fill our souls with His presence if our thoughts and actions are preoccupied by passions.

Concerns such as those over our success, reputation, revenge, control, managing others’ impressions of us and avoiding looking like fools are all-consuming. They become obsessive preoccupations and encourage us to rely on our own will to achieve the results we want.

Instead of investing effort in impressing others, achieving goals or maintaining appearances, St. Silouan wants us to become like “…those who assume folly for Christ’s sake and are glorified because they overcame the world.”

To know God, we cannot rely on our own resources and will. To expect that our own intelligence, alone, will fulfill our yearning for God is to become “blind and stupid.” Instead, we must stand before Him child-like in humility, emptied of our pride, passions, and worldly attachments:

Humble yourself and you shall know not only the sun but the creator of the sun





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