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Question

What should someone do if they have lied to a Priest? For example, in my case, I was talking to a Priest after the service (It was my first visit to this Church, as I am not an Orthodox Christian officially, but come from a different background and hope to undertake catechism) and because I was new and came alone, I was overwhelmed by the experience and couldn't control my tears and nervousness and the Priest, noticing my watery eyes, asked if I was feeling unwell or had hay-fever, like he did. Unfortunately, I lied and told him I had hay-fever, although I do not. I am very sorry for having lied and do not know what I should do. Thank you. (From the UK- London)

Answer
You should not consider this a lie. You came to church, you felt overwhelmed, excited and anxious. The priest noticed that. He may have made a joke to make you feel more relaxed, but it did not work as he had expected. You answered with an instinctive ‘yes’. You did not mean this as a lie. There is no need to disparage yourself over this incident. You came to Church, God’s grace descended on you, and you were excited and overwhelmed. There is nothing unusual about it. You are at the beginning of your journey. You are preparing to get baptised. Be sure to follow through on it. In your place, I would not lose too much sleep over what happened. I have seen many people come to church with no emotion at all; nothing worried them or made them nervous. They were self-confident, and they thought they were fine. Many were curious and took great interest in what was going on, but nothing seemed to reach their hearts; they were completely numb to God’s touch. I believe that you are in a much better situation. Hay fever or not, the tears in your eyes were a good sign.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

Question

I’d like to know if affirmations (i.e., short statements containing a verbal formula, which is repeated multiple times to plant the required image or attitude into one’s subconscious, thus improving one’s mental and emotional condition) and positive thinking are sinful or not?

Answer
I believe that an Orthodox person should use the practices established by the Holy Fathers. We don’t find anything like the methods you’ve described in the writings of the Holy Fathers. We can inculcate anything we want in ourselves. For instance, we can repeat to ourselves that we are holy and that we love everyone. Isn’t it better if we simply admit the truth that we aren’t holy and that we don’t love anyone? And then ask the Lord to heal our sick souls. Perhaps, that psychological method might help a person who lives as he or she pleases. A believer can make use of the enormous wealth of spiritual living collected by thousands of ascetics spanning dozens of generations. All that immense wealth is accumulated in the Church. We can experience live interaction with God. That’s why affirmations are inappropriate.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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