Near the end of his life, righteous Fr. Joseph wrote:
“I came to know You [our Lord Jesus Christ] on Mt. Tabor.
I came to know You in the Resurrection.
I came to know You in the Ascension.
I came to know You in so many different glories, and so many marvelous aspects.
I came to know You on Golgotha.”
The Elder used to say that the deepest and most intense knowledge that he received of our Saviour was in the crucifixion, in that suffering and voluntary passion. “I came to understand because, of course, we are made of God in His divinity, Who in His humanity suffered.” Our Saviour had His pathos and voluntary passion. It is only in this voluntary passion, voluntary constraining, denial, voluntary taking up of the cross, voluntary crucifixion, that we come, therefore, to know in depth the unity of the God-man, the Incarnation, and the Mystery and His bond to us, our unity with Him. To see angels, to see visions, to see the Resurrection–that is God. When God opens the Heavens, then you see the visions. When God closes the Heavens, then you don’t see the visions, the visions pass. The visions are inside because the Kingdom [the rule and uncreated glory] is within — open, closed. To know yourself is much greater than to see angels. But you will come to know yourself through suffering, through the Cross, and death on the Cross, by crucifixion.
The Elder said that this knowledge is greater than all of the others. Other knowledges will record themselves. Through sin, etc., they can be blurred and forgotten, as another distant world. But that which you come to know through suffering and crucifixion for the sake of the Kingdom, for the sake of the love of our Saviour, that which you come to know on Golgotha, never will be obliterated. In the worst of sins, that experience and knowledge is right in the marrow of the bone. Therefore, it is so necessary to deny ourselves in a heroic spirit.
We are to be crucified through the cutting of the will, obedience, struggles, love of God, patience and long-suffering. At the end of his life the Elder became like the crop that is ready for harvest, like the fruit which is ripe and mellowed. Fr. Joseph had been through the mill and like St. Ignatios, was ground like fine flour to be that bread on the table in the Kingdom. He was ground through much patience and long-suffering.
In the Book of Wisdom it is recorded: “I loved her, and sought her from my youth, I desired to make her my spouse… Therefore, I purposed to take her to me to live with me,…” Wisdom is theoria, the vision of God, understanding the knowledge of God. The Elder Joseph sought God with his whole soul: the Grace of God, the vision of God, the love of God, and he was not denied it. His struggles were such that they are unheard of. He was a real trooper. When he heard or read something, he applied it. He was unrelenting and had a very strong will. Because he was heroic in spirit, because of his faith, because of his love, and because foremost of the choice and gift of God, God provided for His chosen who He foreknew and pre-ordained. “I could not otherwise obtain her, except God gave her me; and that was a point of wisdom also to know whose gift she was;…” “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” says St. Paul, “and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
St. Paul was a struggler, a great lover of God, a captive and bondsman, a prisoner of God. Illed with God, suffering with God, and suffering because of God. So it was with the Elder Joseph.
Source: Unpublished Life of the Holy Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-Dweller