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ABSTRACT. Spiritual literature considers sufferings and illnesses as an expression of the mystery of God’s gracious love for man, which He wants to guide to the salvation of his soul through happy events or, in an extremely way, through difficult existential circumstances. Whether they are happy or sad, in all the events of the present life, the same God speaks to us and, either through the former or the latter, He tries to get close to us, to reveal the true path that leads to eternal salvation and happiness, and to support us in its pursuit. If the positive moments and realities of life are a blessed path to know the Heavenly Father, the dramatic events represent a painful, experimental and existential form of learning the true meaning of life – i.e. to prepare for the future and eternal life. Beyond being expressions of “God’s wrath” or punishments, the “involuntary” pains, illnesses, sufferings, trials and passions are the way His merciful love manifests. They are forms of God’s oikonomic and pedagogical “rebuke”, Who “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turns from his way and lives” (Ezekiel 18: 23). Above all, when the suffering Christian understands their high cleansing or expiatory and saving purpose, from a negative way of discovering His infinite love and all-wisdom, the “limit situations” and the dramatic and painful experiences become a means of moral improvement, a path towards salvation, a source of repentance, a sign of God’s extraordinary choice unto the health of the soul and the eternal reward. pp. 45–64

Keywords: spirituality; Philokalia; illness; sufferings; martyrdom; patience; prayer

IOAN C. TEȘU
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Dumitru Stăniloae Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iași

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