February 17

I marvel at God’s wisdom, at how the most indispensable things–air, fire, water, earth–are readily available to all. And not simply this, but things conducive to the soul’s salvation are more accessible than other things, while soul-destroying things are harder to come by.  For example, poverty, which anyone can experience, is conducive to the soul’s salvation; while riches, which are not simply at our command, are generally a hindrance.

It is the same with dishonor, humiliation, patience, obedience, submission, self-control, fasting, vigils, the cutting off of one’s will, bodily enfeeblement, thankfulness for all things, trials, injuries, the lack of life’s necessities, abstinence from sensual pleasure, destitution, forbearance–in short, all the things conducive to the spiritual life are freely available. No one fights over them.

On the contrary, everyone leaves them to those who choose to accept them, whether they have been sought for or have come against our will. Soul-destroying things, on the other hand, are not so readily within our grasp–things like wealth, glory, pride, intolerance, power, authority, dissipation, gluttony….people struggle greatly for these things, but only a few attain them, and in any case the benefit they confer is fleeting….they bring….all manner of distress.

None the less, it is not the thing itself, but its misuse, that is evil.

~St Peter of Damaskos

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