Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mother Gavrilía

God had sent her to India. At the time, she herself did not know why. What is important, though, is that all who came to know her, whether Indians or Westerners, saw and recognized in her a completely different way of life. They saw and discovered the ascetic character, the humility and deep spirituality that Orthodoxy has preserved through the centuries. Those of the East saw another West. Those of the West saw their own East, the existence of which they did not even suspect. Had any other «missionaries» identified themselves, to such an extent, with those they served?
Who had ever eaten, drunk, slept or travelled the way these people ate, drank, slept or travelled? Who else had done that? In those days, too, almost all the «missionarizing» lived, wherever they went, under exceptional conditions—good hotels, special food and water, comfortable travelling arrangements—so as to care better for «their» Locals. Who were these people they were calling «theirs»? By never assuming this (sometimes imperceptible and latent in Missionary work) attitude of superiority towards those one is ministering [to], she always tended and helped without hurting… Yes… This is why her passage left a deep mark. «Indeed, I have become everything in turn to men of every sort». Actually, she never preached Orthodoxy, but rather, catechized with the heart, without words, with the unique example of her own life.

The Ascetic of Love, p. 47,
a biography, with her sayings and personal testimonies,
of Gavrilía Papayánni (1897-1992)

Some of the sayings, numbered as in the book…
4. Orthodox spirituality is knowledge acquired through suffering, rather than through learning.
7. There is nothing cheaper than money.
29. True inner progress begins only when a person stops reading anything but the Gospel.
45. The faculty of judgment (Greek, krísis) comes naturally to man. Criticism (Greek, katákrisis) and reproval spring from malice. Discernment (Greek, dhiákrisis) is a gift from God, and we should pray for it; it is essential to our protection and progress.
48. When we must be helped, God will send someone to us. We are all fellow-travellers.
58. We are the first to feel the joy we give to others.
63. Miracle is the normal course of events according to God's will. What we call a Miracle is only what is natural to God.
81. Do what you must do, and God will do what He must do.
85. We must not «surrender» to His will. This is what soldiers do. We, who are His children, must offer Him our own will along with all our being—and tell Him: «Lord, take all my faults and imperfections and set them right».
99. Some of the sailors on a ship may quarrel and fight each other, but the ship sails on and reaches its destination. The same is true of the Church, because Christ Himself is at the helm.
101. Love alone is enought to make a miracle happen. Neither prayer nor the komboskini (prayer rope) have such power.
115. If we are interrupted while speaking, we must not continue. It means that what we were about to say should not be heard. The Angels do this.
124. To love someone with all one's soul is to pray for him. Whoever has this experience is in Paradise.
157. Never take part in a conversation when someone is being criticised or commented upon.
173. If you want to do something, do not announce it openly. In this way it will materialize in words rather than in reality. So, keep it secret from everybody until the last moment.
175. Speaking spontaneously about God comes truly from God, whereas in «preaching» the Ego comes first. In the first case, the seed takes root, in the second it does not.
201. Two things are of great importance: «Love one another» and «Do not be afraid; only have faith».
244. Only men of God who make no compromises can recognize each other.
258. Every person is «sent».
386. We should be interested neither in the other person's response nor in the results of our efforts. We must simply try—God will do the rest.

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