As if completing a puzzle, St. Silouan adds another piece in the ecosystem of love and union with God. In the previous chapter he addresses Adam and asks for his advice and help in uniting himself to God, as he has done. He now calls upon the Mother of God and all the Saints—also human, like himself, yet living in the presence of God.
In this chapter, he gradually reveals the dynamic nature of love and explores the interrelationship among love, suffering, knowledge, and holiness:
The greatest the love, the greatest the suffering of the soul.
The fuller the love, the fuller the knowledge of God
The more ardent the love the more fervent the prayer
The more perfect the love, the holier the life.
Mary embodies these relationships. Her love for her son was the center of her life. Her suffering was therefore proportionately great. Yet it was this suffering that gave her true knowledge of God and love for His creation. Her love extended to all of us. She is the mother of the apostles, the saints, and all people.
Love is inexorably linked to suffering. The saints rose to sainthood through enormous suffering and repentance. They still experience sorrow for our sins.
Paradise is not static or cut off from humans. St. Silouan wonders how the saints could possibly know about all of our individual lives. He concludes that “…through the Holy Spirit they see too the sufferings of men on earth.”
The Holy Spirit, then, does not seal the saints from humans in a closed, distant paradise. On the contrary, it enables them to experience both heaven and earth through endless love.
“In the kingdom of heaven, the holy saints look upon the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; but through the Holy Spirit they see too the sufferings of men on earth. The Lord gave them such great grace that they embrace the whole world with their love.
St. Silouan told us that when he felt God’s presence in his soul, he immediately started loving others and weeping for their sorrows. “The Holy Spirit,” he tells us in this chapter, “gives His chosen such a wealth of love that their souls are possessed as it were by a flame of desire that all men should be saved and behold the glory of God.”
It is in fact the Holy Spirit that enables Mary to be in constant relationship with us and “embrace the whole world with their love.”
The goal in our ascent to God is not to enter into a solitary, two-way relationships with Him but to find our role in God’s Holy Assembly:
Thither aspires the soul, to the wondrous holy assembly which the Holy Spirit has gathered together.
It is true that our connection to God is fragile and one single thought can destroy it, but we are not alone. St. Silouan presents us with a universe inhabited by this Holy Assembly and the possibility of our active participation in it.
The saints, he tells us, “are far only from those who have taken themselves away from them.”
St. Silouan, himself, can hear the Mother of God and take comfort in her guidance. His love for her uncovers and reveals to us what was veiled “in her heart in silence.” He brings other examples of miracles that Saints performed for those who asked for their help.
Love, God’s love, is enabled by the Holy Spirit and becomes the glue that unites fragments into a whole through interconnected and dynamic relationships.
“…if they were to love one another, the world would know freedom from sin; and where sin is absent there is joy and love of the Holy Spirit , in such wise that in all sides everything is pleasing, and the soul marvels that it is all so well within her and praises God.”
2 thoughts on “On the Mother of God and the Saints, from Wisdom from Mouth Athos by St. Silouan”
Wonderful post, Anna! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much Scott. Glad you liked it. We miss you guys.