Be thankful to God for everything
St. Peter of Damaskus is one of the most prolific writers in the “Philokalia.” Of all the many texts in this marvelous collection of spiritual works, St. Peter’s works are perhaps the most accessible and understandable for monks and non-monks alike.
We ought all of us always to give thanks to God for both the universal and the particular gifts of soul and body that He bestows on us. The universal gifts consist of the four elements and all that comes into being through them, as well as all the marvelous works of God mentioned in the divine Scriptures. The particular gifts consist of all that God has given to each individual.
These include –
- wealth – so that one can perform acts of charity;
- poverty – so that one can endure it with patience and gratitude;
authority – so that one can exercise righteous judgment and establish virtue;
obedience & service – so that one can more readily attain salvation of soul;
health – so that one can assist those in need and undertake work worthy of God,
sickness – so that one may earn the crown of patience;
spiritual knowledge & strength – so that one may acquire virtue;
weakness & ignorance – so that, turning one’s back on worldly things, one may be under obedience in stillness and humility;
unsought loss of goods and possessions – so that one may deliberately seek to be saved and may be helped when incapable of shedding all one’s possessions or even of giving alms;
ease & prosperity – so that one may voluntarily struggle and suffer to attain the virtues and thus become dispassionate and fit to save other souls,
trials and hardship – so that those who cannot eradicate their own will may be saved in spite of themselves, and those capable of joyful endurance may attain perfection.
All these things, even if they are opposed to each other, are nevertheless good when used correctly; but when misused, they are not good, but are harmful for both soul and body.
G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, “The Philokalia: vol. III,” (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 172 – 173.