A Gem From the Philokalia

Encouragement

We should on no account wear ourselves out with anxiety over our bodily needs. With our whole soul let us trust in God : as one of the Fathers said, ‘Entrust yourself to the Lord, and all will be entrusted to you.’ ‘Show restraint and moderation,’ writes the Apostle Peter, ‘and be watchful in prayer …. casting all your care upon God, since He cares for you’.

But if you still feel uncertainty, doubting whether He really cares about providing for you, think of the spider and compare it with a human being. Nothing is more weak and powerless than a spider. It has no possessions, makes no journeys overseas, does not engage in litigation, does not grow angry, and amasses no money. Its life is marked by complete gentleness, self-restraint and extreme stillness. It does not meddle in the affairs of others, but minds its own business; calmly and quietly it gets on with its own work. To those who love idleness it says, in effect: ‘If anyone refuses to work, he should have nothing to eat’.

The spider is far more silent than Pythagoras, whom the ancient Greeks admired more than any other philosopher because of the control that he exercised over his tongue. Although Pythagoras did not talk with everyone, yet he did speak occasionally in secret with his closest friends; and often he lavished nonsensical remarks on oxen and eagles. He abstained altogether from wine and drank only water. The spider, however, achieves more than Pythagoras: it never utters a single word, and abstains from water as well as wine.

Living in this quiet fashion, humble and weak, never going outside or wandering about according to its fancy, always hard at work – nothing could be more lowly than the spider.

Nevertheless the Lord, ‘who dwells on high but sees what is lowly’, extends His providence even to the spider, sending it food every day, and causing tiny insects to fall in its web.

Saint John of Karpathos – “For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him: One Hundred Texts”. The Philokalia: The Complete Text, Volume 1


 

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.