Letters to Monastics of Kozelsk
My dear and most-respected Father Miletiy:
Although the proceedings of God’s judgement are concealed from us, the Lord, however, has revealed to His saints what is useful for those seeking salvation; and they, in their turn, wrote down many things for our comfort and instruction.
Thus, the holy men with whom God was pleased, tell us that in the last days, there will be no monasticism at all, except may be only some appearance of it in some places, without monastic laboring.
People seeking the Kingdom of God will fail to accomplish works of righteousness as such. Their salvation will be achieved by their endurance of sorrows and diseases. Why will there be no good deeds accomplished? - Because people will have no humble spirit, whereas, without humbleness, works they might accomplish may bring more harm than do good; they even may become destructive for the laborer, insomuch as achievements make people become haughty and fall into temptation. Only under the supervision of very experienced spiritual people some worthy deeds may be accomplished, but there are no such people any more, they are nowhere to be found. The supervision now comes from the Lord Himself, and partially, from the books - for those who have them and are able to perceive their content. How does the Lord execute His supervision then? He lets us suffer through persecutions, insults, diseases and long-lasting old age with its burdens and iniquities.
The parable of the householder who hired laborers to work in his vineyard narrates that those who came to work about the eleventh hour received the same payment for the work as those who had been working since early morning. This parable is applicable to us, the present-day monks and all people seeking the Kingdom of God, who have idled away the daytime of their earthly life. But out of His exceptional mercifulness, the Lord calls on inviting us in the last period of our life to work in His vineyard by the endurance of our old age, our diseases, by enduring the loss of our kin or of their sufferings. If, without complaints and with all humility we bear these hardships, our brief suffering will be rewarded, as if we had been laboring our whole life, like were rewarded the laborers who came to work about the eleventh hour. Moreover, St. Anthonios the Great , Abba Ischirion and other ascetic fathers said, that those laboring for salvation in the last days by bearing hardships, will be glorified higher than the Holy Fathers of the early days.
St. Seraphim of Sarov, the wonder-worker, agreeing with the early Holy Fathers, used to say that should people have known what blissful things await those who labor for salvation they would agree to live in a cell with creeps gnawing their flesh for one thousand years in order that they should not to be deprived of the future wheal. (Motovilov conveys these words as follows: “If this our cell had been full of worms, and if the worms were to eat away our flesh all throughout our earthly life, we should willingly express agreement to such life in order not to be deprived of the heavenly joy, that God has prepared for all who loves Him”)
Accomplish your souls with tolerance. May the Lord help you to carry the crosses appropriated for you on to the end. Amen.