Wounded By Love by Saint Porphyrios was recommended to me by a monk at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, West Virginia. As a new believer, a big part of my faith was to avoid the pain of eternal punishment, but this book helped me understand that it’s better to love God as a son instead.
Exhaust yourself for God
Every physical and spiritual task which does not involve pain, toil and trouble never bears fruit for the person who engages in it, for the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence and the violent lay hold of it’—‘violence’ here meaning the laborious exercise of the body in everything.
Before complaining about your bodily exhaustion, start praying, because when you complain grace departs and you are left with your own strength. If you say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ three times, you continue joyfully. God sees you and stretches out His hand to help you. From that moment on, true communion with Him commences.
During the summer of 2019, I thought it would be impossible for me to tour the United States by car while also holding weekly speaking events. The endeavor far surpassed anything else I’ve attempted, but since I conducted the trip in the name of God, I believe He gave me energy I did not know I had. Funnily enough, after the trip was over and I had hardly any work to do at all, I felt more tired and weak than while I was conducting the tour.
Put blame on yourself
On every occasion when something happens to you, place the blame on yourself. Pray with humility and don’t seek to justify yourself. If, for example, you find yourself the object of enmity, pray with love so that you pour love over the enmity. If you hear a slander against you, then pray and be careful, because ‘the noise of murmurings shall not be hidden.’ The slightest murmuring against your neighbor affects your soul and you are unable to pray. When the Holy Spirit finds the soul in this state it does not dare to approach.
When you arrive at such a degree of humility and you compel the grace of God to dwell within you, then you have gained everything. When you have attained humility, when you have become a captive of God—a captive in the good sense, that is, a vessel of divine grace—then you can say along with Saint Paul, ‘it is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me.’
We should address ourselves to God in the manner of a humble servant with a voice of entreaty and supplication. Then our prayer will be well-pleasing to God. Let us stand devoutly before the Cross of Christ and say: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ That says everything.
…God is infinite; God is a mystery; God is silence. God is infinitely hidden, but everywhere existent. We live in God, we breathe God, but we cannot sense His greatness, His providence. He frequently conceals the actions of His divine providence. But when we acquire holy humility, then we see everything and experience everything. We experience God openly and manifestly and we sense His mysteries. Then we cannot but start to love Him. And that is something which He asks for. It is the first thing which He demands for our own happiness, as He says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind’; this is the first and great commandment.
Christ stands outside the door of our soul and knocks for us to open to Him, but He doesn’t enter. He doesn’t want to violate the freedom which He Himself gave us. The Book of Revelation says this in so many words: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and I will dine with him, and he with me.’ Christ is courteous. He stands outside the door of our soul and knocks gently. If we open to Him, He will enter us and give us everything—Himself—secretly and silently.
This is how Christ dealt with me. He began tapping on my door in early 2019, ready to help me, but for one month I fiddled around, not sure if I should open the door or not. And then finally when I did open the door, He embraced me and changed my life.
Living with Christ
When you find Christ, you are satisfied, you desire nothing else, you find peace. You become a different person. You live everywhere, wherever Christ is. You live in the stars, in infinity, in heaven with the angels, with the saints, on earth with people, with plants, with animals, with everyone and everything. When there is love for Christ, loneliness disappears. You are peaceable, joyous, full. Neither melancholy, nor illness, nor pressure, nor anxiety, nor depression, nor hell. Christ is in all your thoughts, in all your actions. You have grace and you can endure everything for Christ. You can even suffer unjustly. You can endure injustices for Christ, and indeed with joy. Just as He suffered, so you too can suffer unjustly. Did you choose Christ in order to avoid suffering? What does Saint Paul say? I rejoice in my sufferings. This is our religion: for our soul to awake and love Christ and become holy, to give herself over to divine eros.
Those who desire and crave to belong to Christ and who abandon themselves to the will of God become worthy. It’s a great thing, all-important, to have no will. The slave has no will of his own. And it is possible for us to have no will of our own in a very simple manner: through love for Christ and the keeping of His commandments.
Some men tell me, “Roosh, you’re getting old. You really have to hurry up and find a wife. Have you thought about going to Armenia or maybe Ukraine? You can meet a girl in those places.” There is no need. When you have Christ, you have enough. You can live alone in the mountains and go days without talking to another person yet remain content because you can see God everywhere, even in the trees and birds. With Christ comes fulfillment, and anything that can be added to me from this point on would be sent by Him for my salvation. He can send me a faithful woman, a friend who is in need of help, or the ability to make a meal for my neighbor—I accept his gifts without question, and do not lament what I perceive as a lack. If Christ did not give it to me, it cannot be something I should regret not having.
Living without Christ
When someone is empty of Christ then a thousand and one other things come to fill his soul: jealousies, hatreds, boredom, melancholy, negativity, a worldly frame of mind and worldly pleasures. Try to fill your soul with Christ so as not to have it empty. Your soul is like a cistern full of water. If you channel the water to the flowers, that is, to the virtues, you will experience true joy and all the thorns of evil will wither away. But if you channel the water to the weeds, these will grow and choke you and all the flowers will wither.
Modern society is constructed to keep you away from Christ no matter which way you turn. Even most churches, which are supposed to glorify and worship Christ, do not have Him. They blaspheme Him through false teachings and gay flags. Evil forces of this world have molded everything to block God from your life, but in my case and others who have found Him, they have not been successful enough.
God wishes all to be saved
You wish for everyone to find salvation, light and sanctification and for everyone to enter in the Church.
No one should wish to be saved alone without all others being saved. It is a mistake for someone to pray for himself, that he himself may be saved. We must love others and pray that no soul be lost, that all may enter into the Church. That is what counts. And it is with this desire one should leave the world to retire to a monastery or to the desert.
I used to get schadenfreude when my enemy faltered. “Serves you right for attacking me in the past!” Now I aim to pray for them. I can no longer celebrate when a man falls into the pit. No one deserves to suffer for eternity merely for humiliating me or hurting my feelings.
Engaging in sin makes you confused
Sin makes a person exceedingly psychologically confused. And nothing makes the confusion go away—nothing except the light of Christ. Christ makes the first move: Come unto me all you who labour. Then we accept this light with our good will, which we express through our love towards Him, through prayer, through our participation in the life of the Church, and through the sacraments.
The irony is that the more confused a person is, the more sure they will seem. A woman will be so convinced of her abortion that she will brag about it online and encourage other women to do the same. A man will be so convinced of his life of fornication that he will boast of his conquests and teach you how to do likewise. I could argue that today I have more to be sure of, but I’m more hesitant to dispense advice to others. I don’t want to give guidance that could end up inadvertently hurting someone’s spiritual development.
Do not despair
It is not healthy to be excessively downcast on account of your sins and to turn with such revulsion against your evil self that you end up in despair. Despondency is the worst thing. It is a snare set by Satan to make a person lose his appetite for spiritual things and to bring him into a state of despair, inactivity and negligence. In this state a person is unable to do anything and is rendered useless. The person says, ‘I am sinful and wretched, I am this, I am that, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that… I should have done that then, now it’s too late, nothing can be done… I’ve wasted my life, I am unworthy…’ He is brought into a sense of inferiority and consumed by fruitless self-reproach. Do you know what a destructive thing that is? It is pseudo-humility.
I can admit that I am hard on my past, but how can I not be when I was a fool for so long? Yet I do believe God has forgiven me for my sins, and so I steer away from despair or despondency. My salvation is in my hands based on what I do today.
Loving your neighbor is loving God
Love towards one’s brother cultivates love towards God. We are happy when we secretly love all people. Then we will feel that everyone loves us. No one can attain to God unless he first passes through his fellow men. ‘For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?’ We need to love and sacrifice ourselves selflessly for everyone without seeking recompense. A love that seeks something in return is selfish. It is not genuine, pure and sincere.
Atheists have ailing souls
No one can deny that Christ is the fullness of life. Those who deny this truth are soul-sick and possessed by an evil spirit. They deny that which they are lacking. And so the devil finds their soul empty and enters in. And just as a child is deeply traumatized if he is deprived of his father and mother in his life, so too, and much more so, is the person who is deprived of Christ and His Holy Mother.
Repentance is not possible without grace
For the soul to repent it must first be awake. It is in this awakening that the miracle of repentance occurs. This is where human will plays its role. The awakening, however, is not something that rests only with the individual man or woman. The individual on his own is unable to bring it about. God intervenes. Then divine grace comes. Without grace a person cannot repent. The love of God does everything. He may use something—an illness, or something else, it depends—in order to bring a person to repentance. Accordingly repentance is achieved through divine grace. We simply make a move towards God and from then onwards grace supervenes.
If there are not the preconditions for Christ to enter into us, repentance does not come. The preconditions are humility, love, prayer, prostrations and labour for Christ. If the sentiment is not pure, if there is no simplicity and if the soul is moved by self-interest, then divine grace does not come. In that case we go and confess, but we don’t feel relief.
Grace is a gift and God decides when to give it. You then make a decision whether to accept the gift or not. I was given this gift at 39 years old when I was beaten by the world and no longer had any options to save myself. For the first time in my life I prayed for help, and then I received help.
We shouldn’t blackmail God with our prayers. We shouldn’t ask God to release us from something, from an illness, for example, or to solve our problems, but we should ask for strength and support from Him to bear what we have to bear. Just as He knocks discretely at the door of our soul, so we should ask discretely for what we desire and if the Lord does not respond, we should cease to ask. When God does not give us something that we ask for insistently, then He has His reasons. God, too, has His ‘secrets’.
In our prayer we should ask only for the salvation of our soul. Didn’t the Lord say, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you?’ Easily, without the slightly difficulty, Christ can give us what we want. And remember the secret. The secret is not to think about asking for the specific thing at all. The secret is to ask for your union with Christ with utter selflessness, without saying ‘give me this’ or ‘give me that’. It suffices to say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’
I never ask for God to reveal something to me, because I don’t like asking Him. I believe this is contrary to His will, that it is not polite and that—even worse—I am coercing Him. But I say the prayer ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ in a supplicatory tone and then I abandon myself to Christ. Whatever He wills. Whatever He Himself reveals.
When praying for myself or others, I used to ask God for specifics—to help me with finding a mountain home or to help a friend with his money problems—but how do I know what is God’s specific plan for each individual? Now I ask God either for mercy or the endurance to get through a specific trial (assuming it is His will for me to get through the trial). When you ask for mercy instead of specific outcomes, you ensure that God treats you with love and compassion in a way that preserves your salvation, since it’s very possible that attaining something you desire may lead to condemnation. If you ask me to pray for you, I’ll ask God to have mercy on you. His will be done, whatever that may be.
We cannot fix ourselves without Christ
Without Christ it is impossible to correct ourselves. We will not be able to detach ourselves from our passions. On our own we cannot become good. ‘Without me, you can do nothing.’ However much we try, we will achieve nothing. There is one thing we must do, and that is turn to Him and love Him ‘with all our soul.’ Love for Christ: this is the best and sole remedy for the passions.
It is possible for a non-Christian to do a good deed, since the Gospel is written on our hearts, but it will often come with sinful baggage. Someone will claim that they give to charity, but they do it as a public display. I spoke the truth about men and women, yet applied that truth in an immoral way. To do good without harming oneself or others, you must be in communion with God. Otherwise, you will null out the good you’re doing with other sins that you will not even be aware of.
Turn to Christ when evil comes to you
Things are simple and easy in the spiritual life, in the life in Christ, as long as you possess discernment. When something bothers you—a seductive thought, a temptation, an assault—ignore all these things, and turn your attention, your eyes, to Christ. He will then take over the task of raising you up. He will take you by the hand and will give you His divine grace abundantly. All you need to do is make a tiny little effort. The human contribution in all this represents only a millionth of a millionth part—a slight inclination, that is. Take a step in God’s direction, and in a split second divine grace will come. As soon as you think of it, the Holy Spirit will come. You don’t do anything. You just move in that direction, and divine grace comes immediately.
You won’t become saints by hounding after evil. Ignore evil. Look towards Christ and He will save you. Instead of standing outside the door shooing the evil one away, treat him with disdain. If evil approaches from one direction, then calmly turn in the opposite direction. If evil comes to assault you, turn all your inner strength to good, to Christ. Pray, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ He knows how and in what way to have mercy on you. And when you have filled yourself with good, don’t turn any more towards evil. In this way you become good on your own, with the grace of God. Where can evil then find a foothold? It disappears!
You don’t become holy by fighting evil. Let evil be. Look towards Christ and that will save you. What makes a person saintly is love—the adoration of Christ which cannot be expressed, which is beyond expression, which is beyond… And such a person attempts to undertake ascetic exercises and to do things to cause himself to suffer for the love of God.
Many Christians want to “fight evil” and eradicate it from the world, but is that God’s will or their will? God permits evil and sickness in this world for our spiritual benefit, so the most likely consequence of fighting evil is bringing yourself closer to it. As long as this world exists, evil will exist.
All sheep need a shepherd
If you are going to occupy yourself with prayer of the heart exclusively you must have the guidance of a spiritual father. Prayer of the heart is impossible without a spiritual guide. There is a danger of the soul being deluded. Care is needed. Your spiritual guide will teach you how to get into the right order for prayer, because you don’t get in the right order, there’s a danger of your seeing the luciferic light, of living in delusion and being plunged into darkness, and then one becomes aggressive and changes character and so on.
Whenever I speak with men who are going it alone without the Church, they have a buffet of beliefs gathered from multiple sources (philosophy, gnosticism, New Age, Buddhism, etc.). The end result is that they formed their own religion with them as Pope, and they defend their unique position with an exceedingly high level of pride.
Your faith is progressing if you desire less from the world
In the eyes of God, the married and the unmarried person are the same, provided they live in accordance with the commandments of God and provided they live the life of God. Chastity, lack of possessions and poverty, which are the virtues of the monk, are to be found in a person’s heart. Someone may be a virgin as far as the body is concerned, but be like an inveterate whore as far as the soul is concerned on account of his malice and passions. Someone may own a dozen houses and yet in his soul be liberation from material things and live like someone who owns nothing. On the other hand, someone may be poor in an external sense, but not be free of possessions internally. It is not the quantity of possessions that makes someone propertied or unpropertied, but the attachment of the heart.
How to treat those who attack you
When someone injures us in whatever way, whether with slanders or with insults, we should think of him as our brother who has been taken hold of by the enemy. He has fallen victim to the enemy. Accordingly we need to have compassion for him and entreat God to have mercy both on us and on him, and God will help both. If, however, we are filled with anger against him, then the enemy will jump from him to us and make a mockery of us both. A person who condemns others does not love Christ.
And if you see a brother troubled by passions, do not hate him. Hate rather the passions that are assailing him. And if you see that he is being tormented by desires and habits from former sins, have even greater compassion on him, lest you also fall into temptation, since you are made of matter that easily turns from good to evil.
Use prayer to help others change instead of words
In our missionary endeavor we need to employ a very delicate manner so that people accept what we are offering, whether it be words, books or whatever, without reacting negatively. And something else: use few words. Words often provoke irritation. Prayer and living example find resonance. Living faith moves people, regenerates them and changes them, whereas words alone remain fruitless. The best form of mission is through our good example, our love and our meekness.
And when sometimes I see that someone is heading for disaster in his life, I can do nothing about it. I point it out to him a little, but he doesn’t understand. I can’t intervene strongly and compromise his freedom. It’s not an easy matter.
Has it happened to you that you knew the exact solution to someone’s problem, and yet when you relayed the solution, the person completely ignored you or outright attacked you? Words don’t work on a hard heart. The person simply wants a material reward or solution, and anything you say which blocks their immediate satisfaction will be shot down. This is also the case with bringing people to God. It can be obvious to me that a person is suffering from their worldly pursuits, but if I were to tell them that they need God, they would attack me or say I’m “too religious.” By now, everyone close to me knows that I’m a believer, so it’s just a simple matter for them to ask me how to seek help from God, but if they are still of the world they will insist on asking for a worldly solution instead that doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
The providence of God
God is love; He is not a simple spectator in our life. He provides and cares for us as our Father, but He also respects our freedom. He does not pressure us. We should have our hope in God’s providence and, since we believe that God is watching over us, we should take courage and throw ourselves into His love and then we will see Him constantly beside us. We will not be afraid that we will make a false step.
Become saints and you will have no problems with your children. The sanctity of their parents releases the children from their problems. Children want to have saintly people at their side, people with lots of love who will neither intimidate them nor lecture them, but who will provide a saintly example and pray for them. You parents should pray silently to Christ with upraised arms and embrace your children mystically. When they misbehave you will take some disciplinary measures, but you will not coerce them. Above all you need to pray.
It is not sufficient for the parents to be devout. They mustn’t oppress the children to make them good by force. We may repel our children from Christ when we pursue the things of our religion with egotism. Children cannot endure coercion. Don’t compel them to come with you to church. You can say, ‘Whoever wants can come with me now or come later.’ Leave God to speak to their souls. The reason why the children of some devout parents become rebellious when they grow up and reject the Church and everything connected with it and go off to seek satisfaction elsewhere is because of this pressure which they feel from their ‘good’ parents. The so-called ‘devout’ parents, who were anxious to make ‘good Christians’ of their children with their human love, pressurized their children and produced the opposite result.
What to do when you’re sick
…pray a great deal [when you’re ill], but for God to forgive your sins and to give you strength to love Him and to give yourself to Him. Because the more you pray for the illness to leave you, the more it adheres to you, winds its tentacles around you and squeezes you, and becomes inseparable from you. If, of course, you feel an inner human weakness, then you may humbly entreat the Lord to take the illness from you.
Don’t pray for your health. Don’t say, ‘O Lord, make me well.’ No! Rather say, ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’, with selflessness, with love and without expecting anything. ‘Lord, whatever Your love desires…’ Only in this way will you act from now on, loving Christ and our brothers and sisters. Love Christ. Become saints. Throw yourself into becoming friends with Christ, into His love alone, into divine eros.
Without this book, I’m certain I would have embarked on a more legalistic form of Christianity, where I simply follow the rules so that I’m not punished, but Christ is so much more than a stern headmaster. God made us out of love and so wants us to fully experience that love, which is enough for us to face any evil or suffering that comes our way. Wounded By Love was important in helping me realize this essential component of the Christian faith.
Learn More: Wounded By Love by Saint Porphyrios on Amazon