Friday, August 3, 2012

St Peter of Damaskos on Hope

Life is hope free from all anxiety, wealth hidden from the senses but attested by the understanding and by the true nature of things.

Farmers work laboriously, sowing and planting, sailors endure many dangers, and children learn reading and writing and other branches of knowledge. They all look forward with hope, laboring with joy. Outwardly they sacrifice immediate advantages, but in reality, even if they forfeit what they sacrifice, through their patient endurance they gain what is of far greater value. But in such instances, it might be said, they do this because they know from experience that they stand to gain something, while in the realm of the spiritual no one has risen from the dead so that we can know what rewards to expect.

It is, however, only because we have no experience of spiritual gifts and spiritual knowledge that we think like this. Nor is it surprising that we should do so. For even farmers and sailors are full of apprehension so long as they have not acquired experience. And children, ignorant of the value of writing and the other subjects, seek to avoid learning them; but their parents, aware of what is to be gained, in their love compel them to study; then, when the time is ripe, the children themselves acquire experience and not only begin to love their lessons and those who force them to study, but even to accept with joy the ordeals of learning.

Thus we, too, setting out in faith should strive patiently to advance, and not lose heart because of our tribulations; and then, when the time is ripe, we like them will come to know the value of what is happening to us and so will work tirelessly and with joy and gladness. ‘We walk by faith,’ as St Paul says, ‘not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7).

St Peter of Damaskos

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