On April 11, 2021, the 4th Sunday of Great Lent, the commemoration day of St. John of the Ladder, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia officiated the Divine Liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Skete. At the end of the service, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church delivered a sermon, in which he said that faith in the Lord gives us the ability to distinguish between good and evil, it gives us the strength to resist evil and to ascend the steps of spiritual perfection.
“The devil is the source of evil, but he is also the father of lies. Lying is very closely related to evil. Most of what we call evil is born from lies, and this is no coincidence, because the devil is the father of lies. But, probably, no one would have believed nor followed the devil if the lie had been obvious. The Venerable John of Sinai said these words: the devil always dissolves a particle of truth in a lie. Why? Because it is the only way a person will believe a lie,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill said.
“This devil’s desire to lure a person into the element of lies, hiding behind something plausible, sometimes even truthful, is the most dangerous manifestation of evil in our world. Starting from small, lies cover more and more space of human existence and, finally, turn people’s lives into hell.
We know how lies are widespread and how they are spreading now. In general, this whole era, the era of modernity, as we call it in philosophical language, is distinguished by the fact that the boundaries between good and evil are being erased. This has happened for the first time in human history – even in pagan times, both evil and good were understood by everyone. Pagan authors drew a line between evil and virtue, falsehood and truth. But the current era has mixed all of the concepts, and this is the danger of the world in which we live today. We are faced with a mixture of truth and lies both in everyday life and in many other circumstances, and at different levels of human society. How many untruths are being said today about international affairs, how often evil is passed off as good and good as evil! And since there are those for whom evil remains unobvious, which pretends to be the truth, then there is a constant danger that people will believe this lie, believe this untruth, mistake the devil for an angel of light,” the Patriarch stressed.
“How can one resist all these temptations in big and small things: in world politics, in public life, and in personal life? How to overcome the total influence of lies on a person? How not to get infected with this terrible disease?”
“Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11: 6). Faith in the Lord gives us the ability to distinguish between good and evil, it gives us the strength to resist evil and to ascend the steps of spiritual perfection,” the Patriarch said.
He concluded, “Remembering St. John of the Ladder today, his writings, his wisdom, and also perceiving the words of the Gospel reading in a special way, let us remember, my dear brothers and sisters, that the fight against evil begins with strengthening our faith. Fighting evil always presupposes an indispensable striving for perfection – climbing the steps of spiritual deeds [podvig], because if a person stands still, this means that he is falling. Only upward movement on the path of ascent to Divine truth gives us the opportunity to gain hope for our salvation. The Holy Fathers and saints of God, especially the Venerable John, whom we glorify today, are the examples we should follow and the ones that strengthen us in this hope. Through the prayers of St. John, may the Lord help us worthily walk the path of spiritual deeds [podvig] through the days of Holy Lent. Amen.”