I have helped a few people, some for many years. After twenty years, one of them came out and called me a villain. I will not argue with him - he was right. Yet a small part of me was still saying, "Have I cared for that person all these years to hear him call me a villain?" Instead, I should have humbled myself and said, without reservation, "Thank you for reminding me who I am." Saying so honestly and full-heartedly would have been an inner victory.
Yet, most people in similar situations would feel embittered. Typically, they would respond, "I hear it from a villain. Look at you! Who are you to judge me? You ungrateful swine!" At the Convent, I always remind myself not to criticise others, for criticism can make enemies. Especially in people who are not prepared to take it.
It is the same way in a family. Most of us are not prepared to hear the truth about ourselves. Crack the truth to someone who is not ready for it, and you will only make him bitter. Nothing good will result from this truth-telling. Christians should be wise and think hard before taking action. They may see all kinds of people not perform at their best. Their superiors and even bishop and metropolitans can be sinners. Yet sin is an affliction, and we do not judge sinners but pray for them. At some moments, they may not have God's spirit and may not speak from God. We do not denounce them but give them more of our love. For many years, some of our brothers have been called rejects from hell and good for nothing. They have heard it so often that they have become used to it. Yet say to someone, "You are kind, and generous, and beautiful", and you may begin to see a change.
Apostle Paul tells us that we are all a temple of God. Can you imagine that? Do not you find that somewhat hard to believe? But what if he is right? What if we are truly temples of God? What if we have God's spirit in us, and we can clean this temple from all the clutter and waste that often piles up quickly and burdens our immortal soul?
Let us imagine ourselves for a minute as saints entering the Kingdom of Heaven. What are we going to do there? I sometimes hear this question from the brothers at the farmstead, and I give them this example. "There will be no cigarettes there. Many of you die without a smoke. You had better quit smoking by the time you get there." So what will the Kingdom of God be like for us? God makes it very clear to everyone: your life in the Kingdom of God will be a reflection of your present life. If you are living in God, fully and sincerely, you will be at home there.
Never criticise your loved ones unwisely. Never say to your children that you are ashamed of them. Do not ever say such things to any of your kin. Do not leave them to feel embittered for the rest of their lives, and bring it with them to the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is so little and so much that is expected of us: to meet with patience and humility the things and people we may not fully like. By leading their lives in prayer, fasting and hard work, the great saints attained the glory of God.
We have two windows on the world - our minds and our hearts. Our eyes and ears tend to see or hear what we want them to. Therefore, we are all learning to pray so we can connect our minds with our hearts.
In most cases, we know the truth about our dignity but are too afraid to say it. Instead, we say to ourselves, reassuringly, "I am doing okay." We must be born again. I wish that all of us could be reborn with a new idea of dignity and beauty.
This is not the definition of humility that we’re used to. How do we tally it with the understanding of humility as “feeling inferior to others”, which is typical of so many spiritual books?
Our fixation with our moods, grudges and displeasures will not take us far in the way of God. It will not keep us from our sense of despair, frustration, disappointment and failure.
Today, we commemorate the Icon of the Holy Theotokos "Joy of All Who Sorrow". It sends us a powerful message: joys and sorrows are two sides of the same coin.
Recently, we commemorated the new martyrs and confessors of Russia who sacrificed themselves for our faith, our ability to come to Church to accept the Body and Blood of Christ and commune in Him.