In former days, the Holy Fathers first withdrew into the desert, becoming
themselves a desert void of their passions by struggling. Without plans or
programs of their own, they left themselves in the hands of God, avoiding
honors and power, even when they arrived at measures of sanctity — unless
Mother Church had need of them. They did obedience to the will of God, and they
glorified the name of God with their holy life. They became spiritual blood
donors, for they had acquired good spiritual health in the desert with good
spiritual food and vigilant patristic watchfulness.
In our day, however, many of us, who are unfortunately influenced by worldly
love, which can make no spiritual pledge, supposedly venture to do good, to
donate blood, but our blood is full of spiritual bacteria and we do more harm
If, however, we were living patristically, we would all have spiritual
health, which even all the heterodox would envy, leaving their sick delusions
aside to be saved without preaching. Now, however, they are not moved by our
Holy Patristic Tradition, for they want to see how we continue the Patristic
Tradition, to see our true kinship with our Saints.
Unfortunately, in our day, words and books have multiplied and experiences
have diminished, because the worldly spirit, which pursues all conveniences and
avoids all bodily effort, influences people. Most of us find rest in much
reading but little or no implementation. We simply marvel at the holy athletes
of our Church without realizing how much they’ve labored, for we have not
toiled so as to be able to understand their toil, to love them and to struggle
out of philotimo in order to imitate them.
Those, however, who struggle with philotimo and do not give
themselves rest, removing their egos from every one of their actions, help very
positively. For only then are the souls in need of help given rest, and only
then will their own souls find inner rest, in this life as well as in eternity.
Those who pursue power while being overpowered by passions, who pass off
their personal interests as spiritual, and who resort to worldly authorities in
order to solve their ecclesiastical problems are left abandoned by the Grace of
When someone tries to settle ecclesiastical matters in an Orthodox way, but
his goal is to better establish himself, how can he be blessed by God?
Neither should anyone be impressed by those who settle ecclesiastical
matters exceptionally well — even "orthodoxically" — if these same
people are not well situated in the life of the Church, but rather trouble Her
with imprudent excessiveness or frivolity.
The two extremes always weary Mother Church, as well as those who hold to
them, because the two extremes as a rule stab one another... . In other words,
it is as if the one extreme is held by a possessed man who is spiritually
insolent (and feels contempt for everything), and the other extreme is held by
a madman who is childishly zealous with narrow-mindedness. God forbid — these
two ends could strike at one another continually and no one could find an
"end to it all."
Those who are able to bend these two extremes and make them unite, will be
crowned by Christ with two imperishable crowns.
We should neither create problems in the Church nor magnify the minor human
disorders that occur, so as not to create greater evil and make the wicked one
He who is irritated about a minor disorder and abruptly rushes to ostensibly
correct it (with vehemence and petulance) resembles the light-headed sacristan
who sees a candle dripping and abruptly dashes to fix it, stumbling over people
and candlesticks, and thus causing an even greater disorder during the Divine
Unfortunately, in our day, there are many who weary Mother Church. Among
these, those who are educated have grasped the dogma with their mind and not
with the spirit of the Holy Fathers.
Others, who are unlearned, have grasped the dogma with their teeth, which
explains why they grate their teeth when discussing ecclesiastical themes.
Hence it is that they cause more serious harm to the Church than the enemies of
There are people who justify their wickedness by examining others and not
themselves, or by publicizing predicaments of the Church to the world — even
things that should not be said in public — using as a pretext the "tell it
unto the church" (Matthew 18:17) of
the Gospel. Let them do this first for their small church, their family, or
their brotherhood; if they think this is good, let them then disgrace Mother
Church as well. Good children, I believe, never accuse their mothers.
Unfortunately, however, many inconsiderate people offer a wealth of live
ammunition to heretics, enabling Jehovah’s Witnesses and other heretics to
seize Orthodox cities and villages and expand their missionary work.
It is well known to discerning spiritual fathers that this demonic practice
(namely, deriding the clergy and the Church) has turned many people into
Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is also known to the whole world that not even one
Jehovah’s Witness has become Orthodox thanks to this un-Orthodox practice.
The Good God, on the other hand, endures us lovingly without ridiculing
anyone, even though, as the Beholder of hearts, He knows our pitiful state
well. The same thing applies to Saints who never insulted a sinful person in
the presence of others, but with love, spiritual nobility, and in a hidden way,
helped in the correction of the evil. We, notwithstanding the fact that we are
sinners, do the opposite (like hypocrites).
Only a man possessed by a demon is justified to mock people in the presence
of others and tell them about their past (inasmuch as the demon has rights, of
course), in order to make weak souls falter. The unclean spirit, naturally,
does not reveal people’s virtues, but only their weaknesses. Those who are
liberated from their passions, however, since they no longer possess
wickedness, correct the evil by their kindness. If sometimes they see a little
uncleanness that is not easily cleaned, they cover it up with a plate, so that others
who might see will not be disgusted by it. Those, on the contrary, who
reinvestigate the rubbish, resemble scavengers…
An honest and straightforward person is neither he who speaks the truth to
your face nor he who publicizes it, but rather he who has love, lives a true
life, and speaks with discernment, when he should, saying the right word at the
Those who admonish others without discernment are spiritually darkened and
hardened and haplessly view people as lifeless logs. And, although they hack at
them unmercifully, and the people suffer, they rejoice over the
"rectangle" they’ve made out of their lifeless logs (cubism!).
Those who rush to play the role of the spiritual father, while still being
filled with many spiritual toxins, resemble the unripe, sour quince fruit: no
matter how much sugar one adds, sufficient sweetness cannot be produced, or if
it is produced, it quickly turns sour. Sweet words and great truths have value
when they come out of truthful mouths and find a place within good-intentioned
souls and those great people who have pure minds.
The internal purity of the true man’s beautiful soul beautifies his external
person as well, and the divine sweetness of God’s love sweetens even his
countenance. The internal beauty of the soul, apart from spiritually
beautifying and sanctifying man externally, with Divine Grace revealing him to
others, also beautifies and sanctifies the ugly clothes the graced man of God
Of greater worth is the blessed man who has changed internally and been
sanctified also externally, than those who continually change externally (their
clothes) but internally maintain the old man with his "antiquated"
Of greater value is one word of a humble man who has spiritual experience,
coming with pain from the bottom of his heart, than a whole array of learned
words from a superficial man, coming with great speed from his learned tongue.
His tongue does not enlighten souls for it is fleshly and not that fiery tongue
of Holy Pentecost...
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