God is God of Freedom: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Freedom is the most valuable thing we have. The biggest power of our freedom is the right to choose – to live with God or without Him.
Life experience of holy ascetics and even our small experience of our life show that we can find ourselves in a state when our will is paralyzed. It is replaced by passion.
The accumulated “small” sins turn into a tangle of passions. Sometimes it is even impossible to figure out which passion is stronger .
The Root of All Evil
People are struggling with their sins for their whole life. But there is one passion that is murderous for each and every one of us – love of money. It ruins human life. When love of money gets hold of one’s heart, it kills all other passions.
It inevitably leads to betrayal of close people, friends, and God Himself. A person lives just with one thought – how to increase one’s wealth. One does not care about anything else. No man can serve two masters: think about earthly goods and God.
How to struggle with passions? It is incredibly hard. For example, the opposite of pride is humility. A humble person does not get angry, irritated, or annoyed. One understands that everything depends on God. Of course, the struggle comes only from the person. But everything else comes from the Lord. And only the mercy of God can overcome passions.
But how to overcome love of money? We need to find the opposite – almsgiving. As Saint Lawrence said to the emperor, who ordered to show the hidden treasure, “The poor are the vessels where treasure is put. And everyone who puts their treasure in these vessels, will receive it in abundance in the Kingdom of Heaven”.
Only this way, little by little, we must eradicate this passion by almsgiving. Let us recall the Gospel parable about the rich young man who asked Christ, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?..All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:16, 20). But, as it turned out, the young rich man was mistaken. And the Lord by His call helped him to evaluate his state as sinful, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”(Matthew 19:21) But what happened? The young man went from the Lord away sorrowful: for he had great possessions that he did not want to lose, and was not ready to refuse from his acquisition…
We must learn to give. At first something that we do not need. But over time something that we do need, and something that is essential for us.
This is what the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete tells us. This is what the images from the Holy Scripture tell us in order to determine the guidelines for the right path to God at the start of the fast.
Having seen our vices and passions, we should set a good foundation to struggle with them. A repentant and contrite heart, filled with sacred prayer of St. Andrew of Crete, and anger towards sin – the anger that God Himself founded in our nature – will help us in this struggle.
Translated by pravmir.com