What the Book From I-Ville to You-Ville Taught Us
Compiled for a Fourth Grade Sunday School Class
As one of the editors of this wonderful book—which is based on the teachings of Elder Paisios the Athonite—I have a special love for its contents. I read it to my Fourth Grade Sunday School class over the course of six weeks; and to reinforce key points, I gave them this compilation of gleanings on the final review day. I hope that you, too, will read this book to your children, and find this summary useful. ~Patrick Barnes
Our Big “I” (Ego) Prevents Us from Seeing and Hearing Clearly
“People from I-Ville can’t see very clearly, because their big egos dull their vision. They only hear what they want to hear, and they always think that what they say is correct.” (Page 47) Realize that “seeing” means discerning/understanding, and “hearing” means the ability to receive advice or criticism. So we understand these bodily senses in a spiritual way.
When Angry Keep Silent
The Elder noticed that Stubborn was angry and upset, so instead of talking with him, he suggested he go to bed. “Last night, your hurrying [to know how to find You-Ville] made you anxious, so you became angry and it was impossible for us to talk. The best medicine against anger is silence. A conversation ought to be conducted in peace and tranquility. Otherwise, we say things we shouldn’t say.” (Page 26, 28)
Shrink Your Ego By Humbling Yourself and Putting Others First
To get to You-Ville you must “put the other person’s good before your own. You have to say that the people around you are like you, and even better. When you not only say this, but also live it, then your ego – your big ‘I’ – will become smaller.” (Page 29)
Think Good Thoughts to Make an Easy Road
“On your journey, be careful how you think – what kind of thoughts you have. Always think good thoughts. As long as you do this, the road will be easy. But when you have bad thoughts you will have difficulties, and you’ll get tired but not accomplish anything.” (Page 30)
One Bad Thought Leads to Another
“When you have a bad thought, try to get rid of it. When you start to believe it, it leads to another bad thought.” (Page 38)
Bad Thoughts Slip from the Mind to the Heart, Causing Problems
“Before you know it, from your mind [bad thoughts] slip into your heart.... And when they reach the heart, anger comes, then evil-heartedness, and one bad thing leads to another.” (Page 38)
Give No Attention to Bad Thoughts. Instead, Replace Them with Good Thoughts
“So, right from the beginning, you need to get rid of bad thoughts and pay no attention to them.... Replace the bad thoughts you have with a good one. Be patient, be firm, and you’ll overcome your bad thoughts.” (Page 38)
Do What Is Right Without Hope of Reward, and Trust God for a Blessing
“It’s better to help someone because we want to, not because we expect something in return. The reward is in God’s hands. He’ll reward us another time, when we’re not even expecting it.... When you do something good, do it in a good way. Don’t expect something in return.” (Pages 67, 69)
Lessons in Prayer
Stubborn’s First Prayer: “Help me to know You better.” This is a great start!
- “As he walked on he thought about God, and he talked with Him every minute of the way.” (Page 76)
- “You knew I couldn’t go on, and You sent help. Now I understand that without You we can do nothing.” (Page 76)
- “So he took refuge in prayer, talking with God as if He were right there next to him, and asking for His help. The conversation brought Stubborn peace....” (Page 89)
- “Talking with Him banishes sadness. We cry in front of Him, and it soothes our pain.” (Page 106)
- “He always listens. All we have to do is remember Him and talk to Him. Then we’ll be amazed with everything we’ll see happening!” (Page 115)
When God Allows Something Bad to Happen, Something Good Comes of It
“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Have Discernment and Good Intentions, and God Will Guide You
“‘Discernment’ means to know yourself well. If we have a pure heart and good thoughts, God will enlighten us. Then, in every situation, we can make judgments and act in the right way.... Be good-willed and have good intentions, and God won’t leave you. Put Him first, and follow His lead.” (Pages 81-82)
Giving is Better than Receiving
“When you receive something, you feel a human happiness. But then you give, especially when you don’t have much, then you feel a divine joy.” (Page 84)
Remember Good Deeds Done to You, But Forget Good Deeds You Do for Others
“It’s good to remember when people are kind to us. But when we do something good for someone else, let’s try to forget it. If we say, ‘I did this or that good thing,’ then, even though we don’t realize it, our ego gets bigger and causes us trouble.” (Page 85)
Try to Remember to Say, “If God Wills...” or “With God’s Help...”
This helps you be more humble, and reminds you that all of our plans and intentions are ultimately subject to God’s Will, which we can fully trust. Try to memorize James 4:13-16. Verse 15 reads: “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
Do What We Can and Trust God to Help
“We have to do what we can... When we’ve done everything humanly possible, and there’s still no result, then we can expect God to step in – if we’ve asked Him, of course.” (Page 92)
We Worry Too Much
“The bad thing about people is that most times we fret and worry about things that may never happen.... I’m not saying that life doesn’t have its difficulties. It’s just that we have to face them with God by our side.” (Pages 93, 95)
Other Miscellaneous Principles from the Book
- Love is the “weapon” that “beats” people from I-Ville.
- It’s good to put a limit on our wishes so we appreciate what we have.
- Try to listen to and follow the “little voice” in your heart. This is your conscience.
From I-Ville to You-Ville is available from Amazon.com or any good Orthodox bookstore. I also highly recommend (for adult readers) Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives.