Friday, April 15, 2016

Angel Did not Write down the Names of Those Who Took Communion with Unconfessed Sins

Rufinus the Presbyter. "Living of Desert Fathers."
(translated from Russian)
We cannot pass over in silence the inhabitants of the desert adjoining the Porfenian sea and bordering the area of the city Diolk. There we saw one wonderful priest, named Piammon, who was notable for the absolute humility and meek indulgence. He was given the grace of revelation. Once bringing the Bloodless Sacrifice to the Lord, he saw an Angel of the Lord near the Altar: he was holding a book in which he wrote down the names of the monks who approached to the Holy Altar. The elder carefully noticed whose names the Angel missed. After the end of the liturgy, he summoned separately each one of the missed by the Angel and asked him whether he had some secretly committed sin in the conscience. At this confession, he revealed that each of them was guilty of a mortal sin ... Then he persuaded them to bring repentance, and casting himself down before the Lord along with them, prayed with tears day and night, as if he was involved in their sins. And he was in repentance and tears until he saw the Angel again, standing before the Altar and writing down the names of those who were taking the Holy Mysteries. Having written down the names of everyone, the Angel even started to call each one by name, inviting to come to the Altar for reconciliation with God. And the elder, seeing this, understood that their repentance was accepted and happily admitted everyone to the Altar.

Role of Family in Salvation

The issue of salvation is the main issue in the history of humankind as well as in the life of each individual. Salvation is true happiness. Everything else is based on our salvation. In this sense, our happiness is in our own hands. It is achieved by defeating sin. The immediate environment for struggle against sin is the family as well as all those living around us. We look at the environment and situation of our life as if it was something accidental, and we don’t view our family as the path given to us by God for our salvation. Life in a family seems to be something that happened by chance, and the most important aspect of family life evades our attention. According to the Apostle, family is a small church. It can especially help an individual in achieving the main goal of life. In family people look for happiness. But what do we mean by happiness? People usually give unclear answers to this question. This means that we don’t take from this God-given state that which is the most essential.

Both sinful and spiritually right life takes place inside a person, and the environment is a means by which the person must look inside. We already mentioned that sin is a separating force. I will explain it with an example from everyday life. Let’s say two people offended and insulted one another; they did not want to make concessions and went their separate ways. That’s an unhappy situation. This tells us that we must fight against sin for the sake of our own happiness, because anger is an unhappy part of our life. A human being is created with a desire for happiness and must and can learn to fight for his happiness against unhappiness, i.e. against sin in the environment that is especially close to him, close to him in the flesh. Powers of sin and holiness are in a person as if it were in a state of equilibrium. Depending on how we touch a person, the power of good or the power of evil begin to act in him and in the world around him. We always need an environment that would cleanse our inner world and would enable us indeed to come to know ourselves.

Environment outside home, being a chance interaction of people, does not server this purpose. When faced with strangers, a person hides his unrighteousness, drives it inside and tries to look good. A person is ashamed of what others might think of him, ashamed of the opinion of society and therefore does not show his true self. It is only in the family environment, to which we are accustomed, that the source of evil lurking in us begins to show up. In this respect a family environment is a necessary tool for self-understanding. No wonder that we are often afraid of this family atmosphere. Running away from it, we are interested in many things and entertain ourselves in various ways, just to escape from the environment that helps us to learn more about ourselves.

Why does the family appear to be the environment most conducive to salvation? Because in the family a person directly opens up his feelings, but when outsiders are present he hides his inner world. In society a person controls himself, he hides his irritation, tries to show himself other than he really is. He shows his outward, not his inner character. But in the family he is not trying to hide his condition, he will show it, won’t be ashamed to display his sinfulness by word or deed. And his hidden sinful world is open before the family, before his relatives and before the person himself. Thus, in a family environment, a person who pays attention to his own salvation can easier understand his sins and what separates him from others. It is important, however, that this realization of one’s inner world should lead one to fight against sin.