I spent a large part of the day thinking and praying about something that shook me to the very depths of my heart...........
I love my eldest daughter dearly, and I like to think we get on extremely well and have a close mother-daughter relationship.
She is a catechumen in our parish, and has read widely in my extensive collection of Orthodox books. I know I am biased, but she has a wonderful, quirky style of writing which cracks me up, and I always enjoy reading what she has to say.
Yesterday morning, I logged on with my early-morning cup of tea, and settled to read her blog.
So, read this
and just put yourself in my shoes.
First of all, I cried, that my beloved daughter has struggled and worried about this for a period of time, and has not been able to share it with me, for fear of what I might say or think.
Then I worried about how much it cost her to put that down on a public forum, in the only way she felt able to broach the subject with me.
I know my daughter well; I could not imagine she had done anything really horrendous. She is loving, funny, law-abiding, highly ethical and a devoted follower of the Lord. Although she does have a totally anarchic sense of humour, and loves films that would give me nightmares for weeks. .........
As soon as I heard sounds of her getting out of bed, I ambled upstairs and cleaned my teeth. When she saw me, she asked if I had read her blog yet, as I do read it every morning.
We had an intensive and loving chat about the true meaning of the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit, which reassured her. She had not really understood what it meant, and was panicking.
Many thanks also to Dave Holford, who wrote her a very reassuring comment ! at the bottom of her post http://doomhamster-blogofdoom.blogspot.com/2005/01/unpardonable-sin.html
She was understandably concerned about the noxious thoughts she was experiencing - things she would never willingly want or entertain in her mind, heart or soul, and which caused her intense grief.
Luckily I had Elder Ephraim`s "Counsels from the Holy Mountain", and I was able to show her Chapter 14, On Thoughts, Fantasies, and Distraction, where the Elder says:
"Pay no attention to passionate thoughts; disregard them completely, since the ugliness of evil is written all over their face. Disregarding the thoughts suggested by the devil brings salvation. Humility is the best stratagem, for not engaging in a battle of rebuttal with them and fleeing for refuge in Christ through prayer is humility.........
3. Pay no attention to whatever the enemy says to you. As soon as he is about to whisper something in your ear, immediately say "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me" or "Save me", rapidly and without stopping, and soon you will see that the thought - or rather the pressure to accept the thought - has weakened, and you will not be able to remember what exactly he was trying to say.
This method is simpler and more effective than rebuttal - that is, to contradict the thoughts suggested - because after the demon has left and finished everything he had to say, there is nothing left as a remanant or shadow. Whereas with rebuttal, when he is defeated and departs, he leaves behind remnants and shadows of whatever he suggested to the soul, that is , faint memories of what one fought against. The first method ie to take refuge immediately in the prayer - is relaxing, and the soul is quickly calmed. On the other hand, the second method - rebuttal - is laborious, and if the soul does not succeed with rebuttal, one is likely to be wounded in proportion to the demon`s skill of persuasion. "
Last year I was plagued with unwelcome noxious thoughts, and I was given the same advice from my priest in Confession.
I have advised her to talk to our priest when we attend Liturgy on Sunday, so he can give her advice tailored to her specific spiritual development and situation, but at least I was able to provide her with comfort and reassurance.
What I find truly terrifying is what might have happened if she hadn`t had a blog in which to divulge these worries....would she have been able to pluck up courage to discuss this with me face to face ? After all, it took *me* long enough to pluck up courage to mention it in my own Confession !
So, yes, I do think blogs have a purpose, and can be a blessing.
Yesterday morning, I prayed the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children, for all my children, putting them in loving and sure hands.
Last night, I spent several hours with her, just chatting about life in general, and enjoying her company. It was a relief this morning to read her blog and find that she is indeed infintely happier now she has got this worry "off her chest"