Counsels from the Holy Mountain, Discernment, Elder Ephraim of Arizona, Elder Joseph the Cave-Dweller, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Humility, Monastic Wisdom, My Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Patience, patient endurance, slander
Many people slandered Geronda based solely on the fact that he did not want distraction and idle talk, which is why they labeled him as deluded. Unfortunately even today if some hermit refuses to open his door indiscriminately to everyone, he receives the same treatment from the weak and ignorant. Geronda knew what he was doing, though, and he put things in their proper perspective. He said to himself, This is a temptation. I will continue my work.”
Geronda truly struggled day and night for years to overcome this temptation through long-suffering, forgiveness, self-reproach, and prayer until he received tremendous grace from Tod in his prayer. But in order to reach that level of justifying his slanderers in his thoughts, he had a bloody, internal struggle. As he wrote to his sister:
Do you know what it is like not to bother people, while they irritate you? Not to rob them, while they rob you? To bless, while they curse you? To show them mercy, while they treat you unjustly? To praise them, while they criticize you? For them to come to censure you for no reason and constantly call you deluded all your life, while knowing that it is not as they say? To see the temptation that provokes them, yet to repent and weep as if you were guilty of being such a person?
These are the strongest temptations, because while you are being fought by them you are also fighting with yourself to convince yourself that this is how it is, as people are saying, even though it is not so. You see that you are totally right, yet convince yourself that you are wrong.
This, my sister, is the art of arts and the science of sciences: to flog yourself until you are persuaded to call the light darkness and the darkness light, so that every right leaves, so that all arrogance is obliterated, so that you become a fool with complete understanding, so that you see everyone, without anyone seeing you at all. For he who becomes spiritual examines everyone, yet he himself is examined by no one. He sees everything. He has his eyes fixed above, and no one sees him.
This confession alone demonstrates the sanctity of Elder Joseph. Another time, Geronda confirmed that: “My whole life was a martyrdom. For the most part, I suffer for the others: wanting to save them while they do not listen; crying and praying while they sneer and are overcome by the tempter.”
— My Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Chapter 8. Pages 280-282