The Lord called on a sinful soul to repent, and it turned to Him. Then He mercifully accepted it and revealed Himself to it because He is merciful, humble and meek. In His infinite mercy He did not mention the soul’s sins, and the soul loved Him without end, and was drawn to Him like a caged bird to a green wood.
Suddenly the soul loses the Lord’s grace and wonders how it insulted the Lord. "I will ask for forgiveness, and perhaps He will once again give me His grace, for my soul wishes for nothing else in this world except the Lord," thinks a person, for the love of the Lord is so warming, that if a soul should taste it — it would desire nothing else; and if it should lose it, or if grace should dissipate, then what prayers would a soul not utter in order to return the Lord’s grace to it?
When a soul lives in the Holy Spirit, then it is joyful and does not pine for the heavens, because it feels the Kingdom of God within itself: the Lord has come and abides within it. But when it loses grace, then it begins to pine for heaven and tearfully seeks out the Lord.
Whoever has not felt grace cannot know what it is to desire it. Most people have become attached to the worldly, and they cannot understand that nothing worldly could ever take the place of the Holy Spirit. The Lord takes His grace from the soul and in this manner mercifully and wisely teaches it to be humble, for it was for the soul that He spread His arms on the Cross with such great suffering. He gives the soul the ability to struggle against our enemies, but the soul by itself is powerless to achieve victory; for this reason it is said, "Ask, and ye shall receive." And if we do not ask, then we but torment and rob ourselves of the grace of the Holy Spirit, without which the soul remains confused, because it cannot see the will of God.
Here is the shortest and easiest path to salvation: Be obedient and temperate, do not judge and keep your mind and heart free of evil thoughts; believe instead that all people are kind and that God loves them. For these humble thoughts the grace of the Holy Spirit will live within you, and you will say, "God is merciful."
It brings the Lord joy to see a humbly penitent soul, and He brings the grace of the Holy Spirit to it. I know how one novice received the Holy Spirit after only a half-year in a monastery; others received the Holy Spirit after ten years; and yet others live for forty and more years before they experience grace. But none of them could retain grace, because we are not humble.
Saint Serafim was 27 years old, when he saw the Lord, and his soul loved God so, that the sweetness of the Holy Spirit changed him entirely. But when he later went to a deserted area and saw that he no longer carried that grace, he stood for three years on a rock and cried, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."
Blessed is he who does not lose the grace of God, but rises from strength to strength. I have lost grace, but the Lord has felt great pity for me and allowed me to taste an even greater one in His mercy. Brothers, with all your strength, humble your souls, so that the Lord will love them and bestow His mercy upon them. But we cannot hope for mercy if we do not love our enemies.
Saint Silouan the Athonite