When you talk about God, say only what you know from your own experience. Take off your mask. Don’t act as if you play a role in the theater. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Who are you? A normal person, right? Like everyone else. With their passions, mistakes, weaknesses, lust, love affairs, human relations…
Sometimes we think that as soon as we entered the Church, everything has changed. Automatically. I assure you, that in the depths of your personality, nothing has magically changed. Difficult character doesn’t change even if you have entered a holy place. In fact, something else is happening. Something deceptive. And here is a trap, which I’m going to explain: entering the Church consciously, you are already dragging along your passions with you. They don’t disappear, but transform. And you make mistakes. You refuse from running at the stadium, night walks and various bad habits. But the passion of all these misfortunes is not eradicated. It is not that easy to get rid of a passion. It is not like I took off a shirt, threw it in dirty things – and it is all over. Passion has become your habit.
It is deceptive: a secular passion turns into a Christian passion. That is why there is nothing unusual in the fact that you saw someone previously going to the stadium, breaking windows or quarreling and fighting with others (shouting, acts of evil, misunderstandings) and becoming a spiritual man, even a fanatic of church ministry under the pretext and the guise of the Church. Many people are described as: “He goes to church, but it is impossible to reach an agreement with him. He always makes me nervous. He is still the same as before! Nothing has changed.” What hasn’t changed? The main traits of his character. They are very hard to deal with, because he has done nothing but entered the Church and become a Christian.
We need to look at the situation honestly and accept it. I still have anger as well as nerves. Now they have become Christian nerves. I get nervous for spiritual reasons, because of different sacred themes that have become a new means of my addictions. If you are honest and enduring, you will accept this truth. You are not a saint and you are not different from anyone else. You are human just like everyone else. With all the consequences.
Saint Paisios felt this deeply. Once he sailed on a ship from Daphne to Ouranoupoli. One of the brothers saw Paisios sitting with the travelers on the deck, and said to the Elder, “Geronda, come here, let’s sit on the edge. Not with the secular.” And the saint answered, “Why, my child, should I sit elsewhere? What do we lose if we sit here with our brothers? Are we different or better than secular people? Or do we have some virtue to protect? What others have, so do we. It’s just that we indulge in various vices and show weaknesses in different ways. We do not quarrel over social issues, but discuss how was the service today.” We’re all the same…
From the book “On Certain Difficulties in Marriage” by Father Andrew (Konanos)
Translated by pravmir.com