`Geronda, can someone be virtuous by nature?`
`Someone can be by nature simple, loving quietness, meek. But these are natural gifts given to him by God and he has to cultivate them to increase them. He will receive the spiritual gifts and charismas according to the ascetic endeavors he will make.`
`Is wisdom a gift from God or a virtue gained slowly by the spiritual practice done by someone?`
`Wisdom is a gift. Let`s say you don`t have this gift but you have another one. Cultivating the gift you have, you cultivate with it wisdom and other virtues, completing in this way the virtues you don`t have. For instance, when someone makes efforts for refrainment, he also cultivates silence, vigilance, prayer, wisdom…`
All virtues and passions are cultivated, depending on the action the man makes. If he cultivates virtues, the virtues will grow and the passions will be repressed. If he cultivates both of them, both of them will grow and the result will be something mixed. In order to understand this think of a garden which has both flowers and weeds. If the weeds are cultivated, these will grow and the flowers will be repressed. If the flowers are cultivated, they will grow and the weeds will be repressed. If they are cultivated altogether, you won`t be able to tell apart the flowers from weeds.
For the spiritual progress of the man he must know what passions he has and must try to cut them down. He must know what gifts God gave him and cultivate them. If he cultivates them humbly he will quickly enrich himself spiritually. If someone acts spiritually, he becomes kind, if he remains reckless, he becomes bad.
I saw souls which although had a fruitful field because they left it uncultivated, it was filled with bushes and thorns. Other souls which had a field full of bushes and thorns fallowed it and dug it up and made it fruitful. What`s the use of a good field given to us by God if we left it become a thick forest? What can God to for us if our field could give sugar beet and we are content with the swamp cane and we don`t care to uproot it and cultivate sugar beet?
From the swamp cane you can make only baskets but you can`t extract any sugar…
God will ask account from everyone of us if we increased the gift given by Him or not. If He gave someone five gifts, then that one should make ten out of them, it is not enough to make nine. That is why someone should struggle humbly and with discernment to get the highest score as God will ask him for account if he doubled the gift he had received or not, if he made four coins from two or ten from five. Accordingly any gift which is doubled is rewarded by God with the highest score. If someone out of too much zeal and not from selfishness will make ten coins out of one this will impress God and also the people with a heart of stone.
Excerpt from Passions and virtues – Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos Publishing.