My Dear, Loyal Brothers!
I shall explain in three ‘Points’ an effective solace for those who are experiencing the calamity of prison, and for those who kindly help them and faithfully supervise their food, which comes from outside.
First Point: Each day spent in prison may gain as much as ten days’ worship, and, with regards to their fruits, may transform those transient hours into enduring hours, and through five or ten years’ punishment may be the means of saving a person from millions of years of eternal imprisonment. For the believers, the condition for gaining this most significant and valuable advantage is to perform the obligatory prayers, repent for the sins that were the cause of their imprisonment, and offer thanks in patience. For sure, prison is an obstacle to many sins; it does not provide the opportunity for them.
Second Point: Just as the cessation of pleasure causes pain, so does the cessation of pain give pleasure. Yes, on thinking of past happy, enjoyable days, everyone feels a pang of regret and longing, and says: “Alas!”, and recalling calamitous, unhappy days of the past, experiences a sort of pleasure since they are passed, and says: “Praise and thanks be to God, that calamity has left its reward and departed.” He breathes a sigh of relief. That is to say, an hour’s temporary pain and sorrow leave behind a sort of pleasure in the spirit, while a pleasurable hour leaves a pain.
Since the reality is thus; and since past calamitous hours together with their pains are no longer existent, and future distressing days are at the present time non-existent, and there is no pain from nothing, to continually eat bread and drink water today, for example, because of the possibility of being hungry and thirsty in several days’ time, is most foolish. In just the same way, to think now of the past and future unhappy hours, which simply do not exist, and to display impatience, and ignoring one’s faulty self, to moan as though complaining about God is also most foolish. So long as the power of patience is not scattered to left and right, that is, to the past and future, and is held firm in the face of the present of hour and day, it is sufficient. The distress is reduced from ten to one.
In fact, but let it not be complaining, Divine favour pointed out the above fact to me while, during a few days of material and spiritual affliction, illness and trial the like of which I had never before experienced in my life, I was being crushed in particular by the despair and distress of