…a person implored the same Great Old Man, saying: “Father, pray for me because I am wretched in everything and I require much loving-kindness. Moreover, thoughts are sown in me, telling me to depart to a foreign place, and that I will be saved there. Pray that God will not allow these thoughts to dominate me.“
Response by Saint Barsanuphios (Letter 259)
Brother, accursed is the one who has sown in your heart such thoughts―by suggesting that you transgress the commandments and depart for another place―and this is of course the devil. For he works these things inside you as if it were his right, so that after ridiculing you, he may render you a scandal for many people in order that you may bear their judgment. You are suffering this out of negligence and vainglory. Behold, you say: “If I leave for a foreign place, I will bear the dishonor there.” But how can this be, when your heart is troubled even upon simply hearing that a brother said something against you, and when you would not want anyone to know that you erred? Nevertheless, together with negligence, the demons also work vainglory in you to destroy your soul completely.
Brother, be assured in the Lord that, if it were not for the hand of God and the prayers here of the saints, those genuine servants of God, you would not have been able to stay in the monastery even one full year. Yet, as a blind person who does not see, you, too, cannot see the beneficence that God has worked in you and that he continues to work through the prayers of the saints and of the blessed Abramios, who told you and your brother that if you stay in this place, you would have me as your intercessor.
Brother, pay close attention to yourself, and struggle against your thoughts in order not to be negligent, not to have vainglory, not to uphold your own will in anything, and not to receive the thoughts sown within you by a claim to rights; otherwise, you will suffer a great fall. Moreover, be assured that wherever you may go, from one side of the earth to the other, you will not benefit as much as you will here. The prayer of the fathers here is to you as an anchor is to a boat. Acquire stringency and it will dispel from you boldness, which brings every evil to a person. And be carefree of all things; then you will have time for God. Die to all people; for this is exile. And retain the virtue of not reckoning yourself as anything; then you will find your thought to be undisturbed. Do not consider yourself as having done anything good; then your reward will be kept whole. And in addition to all these things, remember that you will not be in the body for long; and strive to say boldly at that hour: “I have prepared, and I have not been troubled.” Brother, without labor it is impossible to live; and without struggle, no one is crowned. Struggle to be saved by competing in battle, and God will help you. For: “He desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ” May he have mercy on you, child, that you may dedicate yourself to your work with long-suffering. For his is the mercy and the power and the glory to the ages. Amen.
—Sts. Barsanuphios & John