I hope that everyone has at least heard that “there is no salvation without humility.” All emotional and bodily pleasures are regrettably opposed to the spiritual good, due to the fact that the sin destroyed the harmony between body and spirit. That is why, if you want to achieve spiritual joy, you have no choice other than to exhaust your body with fasting, kneeling, physical labor. You must not allow your soul to be relaxed, to have free time and to slack off more than absolutely necessary. You require some rest, in fact: not everyone can lead the harsh life. It is very hard and painful. However, the measure of rest must remain under our control because we can easily turn relaxation of the body into lust. Sadly, people can hide some really indecent actions under the guise of well-earned rest. Even though their bad actions might pale in comparison with what is going on around us, it might nevertheless constitute a step away from God.
We have to show reasonable wisdom and courage to be able to tread this royal path, in which case the Lord will look upon us graciously, willing to give us what He wants to give us and for the sake of which He came to earth. He says, It is better for you that I leave because in that case I will send you the Comforter. The veritable spiritual life means connection with the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comforts man both in his physical labor and emotional sorrows. The Holy Spirit can comfort us so well that no one and nothing ever can, and there isn’t anything sweeter than that. It is not a hyperbole when we sing O Sweetest Jesus in the Akathist. The holy author of that Akathist breathed out this word because he felt the sweetness of being with God and communion with him. “O taste and see that the LORD is good.” When one has tasted that the Lord is good, even for one moment, he will never forget it. That is why each of us who has tasted the sweetness of church life, the sweetness of worship, cannot forget it by any means. All other delights, which we receive from the natural world, cannot compare with it. Worship is the genuine life in the Holy Spirit.
That is why our motivation to go to church as often as possible is understandable: we are rewarded if we do. Our souls are longing and yearning to experience that spiritual pleasure more and more. Alas, it isn’t possible. Our souls are too small to contain it. Therefore, we have to make them wider. The only way to make our souls wider is by doing the actions that I’ve mentioned in the beginning, i.e., by exerting, exhausting, and nudging oneself. The greater your effort, the more you will gain. There is no other way. It isn’t automatically granted, though: we can tell it from the 2,000-year long experience of the Church that the more one exhausted oneself, the more he or she gained as a result. That is why each of us actually reaps only what he has sown and receives only what he has earned. The unwillingness and shirking from that is stealing from yourself.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds