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December 16, 2015 + Teaching on the 8 Means of Temptation and the Struggle Against Them, Part 1

The following account is of a spiritual instruction offered by an outstanding contemporary hesychast, Elder Cleopa (Ilie) (1912-1998) of Sihastria Monastery in Romania. What follows is an excerpt from an article written by His Grace, Atanasije (Jevtic), Retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina (Serbian Orthodox Church), entitled "Teachings of the Blessed Elder Cleopa." In it, Bishop Atanasije describes a pilgrimage he undertook in 1976 with a fellow disciple of St. Justin Popovich, Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radovic) of Montenegro and the Littoral – both bishops were then hieromonks – to visit Elder Cleopa. Following a detailed history of the practice of hesychasm in Romania, His Grace relates how, sitting on a hill overlooking the fruit orchard, with Elder Cleopa kneeling before them, he asked the Elder how to live in this world while struggling with one's passions and the temptations of the world. This is the reply the Elder offered him, as related by Bishop Atanasije:

The Holy Fathers say (this is how Fr. Cleopa began to express concisely his spiritual experience to us, inherited from the Holy Fathers and personally experienced by him, as every one of his words clearly confirms) that on the path of salvation one is tempted by the devil from eight sides: from the front, from behind, from the left, from the right, from above, from below, from inside, and from the outside.

1. One is tempted from behind when one continuously remembers the sins and evil deeds one has committed in the past, recalling them anew in one's mind, reshuffling them, engaging them, despairing because of them, and contemplating them sensually. Such a remembrance of how we have sinned in the past is a demonic temptation.

2. One is normally tempted from the front through fear at the thought of what the future holds: of what will happen to us or to the world; of how much longer we will live; of whether we will have anything to eat; of whether there will be a war or any other kind of serious and frightful event to come; and, in general, by making all kinds of guesses, predictions, prophecies, and everything else that induces fear of the future in us.

3. One is tempted by the devil from the left through the call to commit obvious sins and to behave and act in ways that are known to be sinful and evil, but which people do nonetheless. This temptation is a direct call to sin openly and consciously.

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Prophet Haggai

Troparion, Tone 2

We celebrate the memory of Your prophet Haggai, O Lord; through him we beseech You: save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 4

Podoben: "Today You have shown forth..."
Illumined by the Spirit, your heart was a vessel of illustrious prophecy, seeing far-off things as though they were present. Therefore, we venerate you, glorious prophet Haggai.


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

Spiritual Notes of the Diocese of Charleston 12-16-15 (PDF) 287.6 KB