“Church is Place Where Everyone Can Either Come and Bloom or Come and Wither Away”

Spiritual Advice from Archimandrite Andrew (Konanos)

One subconsciously believes in the “theology” of underestimation of human relations, marriage, love, embraces. All this conceals something unhealthy…

You are not a man of God with such an intolerable approach!

Let us call a spade a spade. On the outside you are a man of God. However, I doubt who you really are.

A friend of mine has experienced all this blurred reality. Do you know what he told me? “A church is a place where everyone can either come and bloom or come and wither away. Somebody may come to the temple to hide”. If entering a church, you learn God of Truth, the One Who is the source of all beauty, the source of all love, the source of rebirth and bloom, then, of course, you will surely bloom. If you are taught to perceive God as something loveless and gloomy, then you will wither away.

A church may either be a place of sanctification, prosperity, and growth, or a place of condemnation. It may even affect your health as well as be a shelter where you often come to hide. It can be a stash of your problems.

One woman did exactly that: for her a church has become a stash of melancholy and of her unloving nature, of pathogenesis and of her spiritual problems. She attended the church, but instead of trying to heal herself from all her suffering she concealed everything, in the meanwhile she made God her excuse. Therein lies the tragedy: such unhealthy things are done in the name of God.

She tells her husband: “I will not hug you because I love God. I reject intimacy because I want to pray. I do not show affection because I am in a hurry to go to church. I do not convey warmth because I am like an iceberg in the ocean for spiritual reasons”. What does she do with all these false excuses? She hides. This is how a church may serve as a hiding place.

That is why Saint Porfiri in Oropo sometimes advised spouses, who needed help of specialists, to buy the recommended medicine. The saint wanted marital relations to become warmer and not colder, to become stronger and not to fall apart because he knew well: one does not go to heaven if one’s soul does not rejoice or gets warm near Christ.

I want to ask you something else, my dear. How do you feel if your spouse becomes colder towards Christ because of you? You give him the cold shoulder. After that he meets a priest and tells him: “These priests made my wife like that”, which is unloving, distant, and strange. I think you understand that something is not right. Thus, if you are an ascetic, an abstinent, or a virgin and at the same time you do not have even a little oil in your heart, forget about heaven. Abstinence, asceticism, and virginity are beautiful but under the right conditions. The criterion is the presence of this oil of mercy, affection, kindness, and humanity.

From the book “On Certain Difficulties in Marriage” by Father Andrew (Konanos)

Translated from Russian by Julia Frolova.

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