Love · Mother Erene · Prayer · Saints

The kingdom of heaven is within you

Many times at night, when chanting the Psalmody and particularly when commemorating the saints, Tamav would find the cell expanding and filled with light. Then there would appear all the martyrs and saints headed by the Mother of God. They would continue chanting the Psalmody with her until the very end of it. We used to hear their voices and hers coming from her cell. When we asked her about what we heard and she knew that we were sure of it, with the simplicity of a child she would tell us all about it as though it were ordinary and could happen to anyone.

Tamav once told us that one day before starting her prayer, she kept repeating the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in a short prayer many times. She did so quietly and with great concentration. She then found her heart filled with love towards God. It kept growing so much that she stopped praying and started contemplating and wondering at this overflowing love. She then felt that she wanted to hug everyone and even all creation, and to kiss them. At the same time, she was stricken with a feeling of great humility, and felt that she was the least of all creation. Still, the kindled love growing inside her towards her Creator made her feel His presence though she did not actually see Him. She even knelt down, at His pure feet as if He were there and started asking Him how He ‘could kindle such fiery love inside the heart and remain unseen.

Then she felt confident that it was the grace of the Holy Spirit; and this was the Kingdom of Heaven about which the Lord said that it is within us (Luke 17:21). She said, “If I remain in such a state, then I do not need anything else”.

Ref: Tamav Erene – A torch of love dazzling in the Coptic monastic life (book 6), p. 35

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