Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich): Unworthy Behavior of the Clergy and Believers Is What Pushes People Away from the Church

Ahead of the Nativity Fast, it is a good time to talk about one's behavior in social network.

Social network has an amazing impact on people. It creates an illusion of very close communication. So close that people who, it would seem, are almost, if not complete strangers, speak in an unceremonious way, which is unusual in real communication.

Indeed, when we are walking on the street or sitting in public transport, we do not consider it normal to interfere in other people’s conversations, to provoke disputes and scandals. But on Facebook – easily.

From outside, communication on social networks often looks like a table talk accompanied by alcohol. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the liberties in one’s treatment, sudden not quite adequate emotional outbursts, and frequent use of foul language.

And this is not only among non-believers. Believers too very often lose control over their own words. But the most unpleasant thing is that even some monastics, including those in the priesthood, are subject to the same ailment.

It is difficult to imagine anything more repelling people from the Church than the unworthy behavior of the clergy and believers. But if in ordinary life this phenomenon is not so widespread, the Internet creates a completely different impression.

So when, if not during fasting, should we remember that we are called by the Lord Himself to restraint in our words: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”(Matthew 12: 36–37).

What should we do in this case? Should I leave social networks completely, at least for the duration of the fast? But what if one’s work is connected with the constant presence on the Internet?

Here everything depends on the person himself and his self-control. It is worth consulting with one’s confessor. Someone clearly needs to disconnect from the social network, perhaps for an extended period of time. Someone should limit their stay. Also, prayer will help us before each time we go online. After all, we pray before starting any business with a special prayer, we also pray before leaving the house. And visiting the Internet is also a kind of “leaving the house.” Why not pray before this? Also, when creating each post, each comment, you should not rush, it is important to pause, at least for a few seconds, and cross yourself. And this will surely protect both us and our neighbors from many rash words and unpleasant situations.

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