“He Who Goes Low Goes Sure“
Our goal is to live an Orthodox life, not just to speak or write Orthodox. If the preacher has no personal experience then his sermons won’t go to the heart, won’t change people. To think like an Orthodox is easy, but to live an Orthodox life requires effort.
Today God tolerates what’s going on. Tolerates, so that evil people will be unable to justify themselves. God expects patience, prayer and struggle from us. If you anger when you yourself are offended, your anger is unclean. But if someone is offended in the service of holiness, that means the zeal of God is in him. Indignation can be righteous when it’s indignation for God’s sake. That’s the only justifiable kind of indignation in a person.
It’s unseemly to become angry in one’s own defense. Resisting evildoers is another matter, however, when it’s in defense of serious spiritual matters, when our holy faith, Orthodoxy, is concerned. Then it’s your duty. To think of others, to counter the blasphemers in order to defend one’s neighbor — this is pure, because carried out in love.
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Evil lies within us. There is no love in us, so we don’t feel all people to be brothers and are tempted by [the knowledge of] their sinful ways. But it’s not right when moral failings become known to all. The injunction of the Gospels to “tell it unto the church” (Matt. 18:17) doesn’t mean that everything has to become known to everyone. By exposing the moral failings of our brother we arm the enemies of the Church, give them another pretext to escalate the war against Her. And the faith of the weak is shaken in this way too.
If you want to help the Church, then try to mend your own ways, rather than others’. In straightening yourself out you straighten out a particle of the Church. If everyone were to do that then the Church would be in perfect order. But today’s people attend to everything under the sun, only not to themselves, because it’s easy to teach others, while mending one’s own ways requires effort.
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If we expose someone out of love, with pain in our hearts, then a change will occur in his heart whether he understands us or not. But to expose without love, with partiality, only enrages to object of our exposure. Our hostility strikes against his egoism, producing sparks like flint against steel.
If we tolerate our brother out of love, he will feel it. But he also feels our hostility, even if we keep it inside and don’t express it. Our hostility arouses alarm in him. We must always ask ourselves: “Why do I want to say what I’m about to say? What is motivating me? Do I really care about my neighbor or do I just want to show him how wonderful I am, to show off a bit?” If someone tries to solve ecclesiastical problems allegedly out of faith, but really thinking of his own advantage, then how can such a person win God’s blessing?
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Sweet words and great truths have value when uttered by righteous lips. They take root only in people of good will and clean conscience.
Truth, when used without judgment, can commit a crime. And he who possesses sincerity without reason commits a twofold evil, first against himself, then against others. Because there’s no empathy in his sincerity. A Christian must not be a fanatic but have love in his heart for all. He who throws words around carelessly, even true words, does evil.
Veneration is a good thing, and the predisposition for good is also good, but spiritual judgment and breadth are needed to guard against fanaticism, that false companion of reverence.
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Wakefulness and sobriety are needed. All that a person does he must do for the sake of God. Christ must be at the source of every movement. Much attention is required, for when we do something with the aim of pleasing others we gain no benefit.
We ascend to the heavens not through earthly striving but by humbling ourselves spiritually. He who goes low goes sure and never falls. Ours is an age of sensationalism and hullabaloo. But the spiritual life is not noisy. Divine enlightenment is required and when it’s not there the person abides in darkness. He may act out of good intentions but create many problems in his confusion, both for the Church and for society.
There was a time when the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us the way. A grand business! Today it finds no reason to descend to us. Difficult years are ahead. The Old Testament Tower of Babel was child’s play compared with our age.