Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Benefiting from Illness through Prayer

"We benefit greatly from our illnesses, as long as we endure them without complaint and glorify God, asking for His mercy.  When we become ill, the important thing is not that we don't take medicines or that we go and pray to Saint Nektarios.  We need also to know the other secret, namely, to struggle to acquire the grace of God.  This is the secret.  Grace will teach us all the other things, namely, how to abandon ourselves to Christ.  That is, we ignore the illness, we do not think about it, we think about Christ, simply, imperceptibly and selflessly and God works His miracle for the good or our soul.  Just as we say in the Divine Liturgy, 'we commend all our life to Christ our God'" (227-228).

"The whole secret is faith -- without doubts, gentle, simple and artless: in simplicity and artlessness of heart.  It is not a question of 'will power' or 'mind over matter'.  A fakir can display this kind of 'will power'.  It is a question of having faith that God loves us with infinite love and wants us to become His own.  That is why He allows illnesses, until we surrender ourselves in trust to Him" (228-229).  

*Footnote on p. 224: "Elder Porphyrios suffered from the following illnesses: myocardial infarction (anterior diaphragm with lateral ischaemia), chronic kidney disease, duodenal ulcer (with repeated perforations), operated cataract (loss of lens and blindness), herpes zoster (shingles) on the face, staphylococcus dermatitis on the hand, inguinal hernia (frequently strangulated), chronic brochitis and cancer of the pituitary gland."

Selections from Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, trans. by John Raffan (Limni, Evia, Greece: Denise Harvey, 2005).  Image source: Orthodoxwiki.org