Tuesday, April 12, 2016

St. Paisios on the Arena of Great Lent

Elder, how can I struggle more with abstinence during Lent?

Now during Lent those in the world in some way take greater care to show abstinence, but we monks must always be careful. Above all one must be careful, however, of the passions of the soul and then the body. Because if one prioritizes bodily asceticism and does not struggle to eradicate the passions of the soul, he will do nothing.

A layman once went to a monastery in the beginning of Lent and there a certain monk appeared to him to be abrupt and rough. However the poor man had good thoughts and justified him. He later came to me and said:

"I do not blame him, Father. After all, he just completed the Three Day Fast!"

If he had done the Three Day Fast in a spiritual way he would have had a spiritual sweetness and would have spoken to him with goodness. But he pushed himself egotistically to do the Three Day Fast, and so he placed blame everywhere.

Elder, what should I think about during Lent?

You should think of the Passion, the sacrifice of Christ. We monks must continuously live the Passion of Christ, and we are helped in this daily through the various troparia hymns – all the Services.

We are given the greatest opportunity during Great Lent to struggle and participate more in the saving Passion of Christ, with repentance and prostrations, with the cutting off of the passions and the decreased food, for the love of Christ.

We must utilize, as much as we can, this spiritual arena, with the many opportunities and preconditions it gives us to approach closer to the Crucified Christ, to be helped by Him and rejoice in His Holy Resurrection spiritually changed, since we would have lived Great Lent more spiritually.

I pray you good strength during Great Lent, that you may climb Golgotha to be near Christ, together with the Panagia and your Patron St. John the Theologian, and that you may participate in the fearsome Passion of our Lord. Amen.


Man is endowed with free will ( Part 1 ) - St. Nektarios of Pentapolis

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Mt. 16:24) Man’s free will is inviolable.
The exact magnitude of man’s ethical freedom
becomes clearly evident in the above verse. Our Savior invites man to follow Him; however, He gives man the freedom to decide on his own about
this most-significant matter: whether he will
follow Him or turn away from Him and take his own path. 

Christ came to save man, and yet He does not
forcefully impose on man’s free will. Christ invites man to take an active part in his salvation, but He does not at all affect his free will. If man was not a free and independent being, he would never have been treated with such respect and never have been granted the great honor of
collaborating with the Savior for his own salvation.
In such an instance, man would not have been
permitted to make his own decisions; rather, as a passive and inert body, he would be pulled toward salvation and would accept [without a choice] the action of Divine Grace as it carried out his salvation. Truly! How honorable and inviolable
man’s ethical freedom is!
What an autocratic free will he possesses!
If we study the history of redemption, we will see the Son of God becoming man in order to save man. We will see Him voluntarily journeying toward the Passion in order to take away the sin of the world, to bear our bruises, to fulfill the great mystery of dispensation, and to reconcile man with God; nevertheless, never in the least forcing Himself upon man’s free will.
Behold, the closed gate of Paradise was opened, and the fiery sword that guarded its entrance was
removed, and the voice of the Lord calls and invites man (who had been previously shut out)
to enter through this gate into the place of rest; man, however, is left free to decide if he will enter or not. This freedom that permits man to act as he desires, to follow his own principles, and to
remain unaffected by even God Himself testifies to the absolute character of man’s ethical free will (which emanates from his ethical composition), and to man’s extraordinary value and the exalted position that he received within the creation. What a great honor, indeed, has been imparted to man on account of his inviolable ethical free will!
Simultaneously, however, how clearly are we
reminded of our obligations. How clearly are we informed that we are also obliged to value and
zealously covet [this ethical freedom], without at all permitting our ethical free will to be subjugated
to or our ethical freedom to become dependent
on the various shameful passions and sinful desires.