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Daily Meditations

Death and Humility

February 5th, 2019

A pilgrim to the Holy Mountain of Athos asked an old hermit,

“Father, how can I attain my salvation?” The venerated holy man replied,

“Every day at dusk go to the cemetery and for an hour hurl insults

to the dead. Do that for a month and pay attention to everything that

happens around you. Then come and report to me.” After a month the

pilgrim returned. “Father, I have done what you told me but nothing

happened!” The hermit then said, “Go to the cemetery again for another

month and sing praises to the dead. Then come and tell me what

happened.” After a month the pilgrim returned. “Father, I did what you

told me but nothing happened!” The holy father then said, “My son, if you

wish to attain your salvation, be like the dead, indifferent to insults and

indifferent to praise.”

~Quoted from Kyriacos C. Markides, Inner River: A Pilgrimage to the Heart of Christian Spirituality

 

To Acquire Humility

Once an elder was asked, ‘How can someone acquire humility?’ He replied, ‘By unceasing remembrance of transgressions, by the expectation of an imminent death, by shabby clothing, by always choosing the last place, by always running to do the tasks that are the most insignificant and disliked, without being forced to; by continual silence, by dislike of gatherings, by desiring to be unknown and of no account, by never possessing as one’s own anything at all; by avoiding conversation with all sorts of persons, by disliking profit.

‘And after these things, by having one’s mind raised above the reproach and accusations of others, and above zealotry; by not being one whose hand is against everyone, and against whom is everyone’s hand, but rather one who remains alone and isolated, not taking on the concern of anyone else in the world apart from himself.

‘In sum: exile, poverty, and a solitary life, all of which give birth to humility and cleanse the heart.’

~Quoted from Sebastian Brock, Daily Readings with Saint Isaac of Syria