November 6 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"While faith is truly a gift from God, nonbelievers are by no means blameless: they have willfully turned away from this gift. The Lord would never send down His precious gift of faith, unless there is a place in one’s soul to keep it: doing so would have meant wasting it. . ."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.


Saturday, 20th week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Gospel reading: Luke 7:2-10

The Mercy of Faith

The centurion who came to Jesus ─ what a wonderful man he is!  How could he develop his great faith which exceeded that of the Israelites [Luke 7:9], who had been raised on Divine revelation, prophesies, and miracles? The Gospel does not say how. It simply describes his faith and the praise he received from the Lord.

In the human soul, faith has its own secret course. Who can trace with certainty even the course of his own faith, how it has grown in his heart? St. Paul speaks about it better than anyone else: “That is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” [Ephesians 2:8]. And while faith is truly a gift from God, nonbelievers are by no means blameless: they have willfully turned away from this gift. The Lord would never send down His precious gift of faith, unless there is a place in one’s soul to keep it: doing so would have meant wasting it.

It is hard to define the exact conditions for receiving the gift of faith. The centurion was a man of authority, virtue, and strong reason ─ but there is also extreme humility clearly visible in him. Is it not humility in general, by which we get a chance to receive this great faith-creating mercy of the Lord? Quite possibly so. At any rate, it is no secret that unbelievers are  typically proud, and that faith first of all demands from the mind complete submission to its authority.

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