Can we acquire holiness today?

Monk Moses the Athonite

            All the saints of our Church are those who `fought the good fight and kept the faith.`

The saints are the winning strugglers and the brave confessors. Those who were sought by the Holy Spirit and filled with grace. Not simply those who are kind, meek, noble, smiling, moral, but those who are images of Christ. They are those who always remain united with Christ, who show Him to the world and guide the world to Him. The saints assure us that the Gospel is true and can be fulfilled in all times.

That is why we’ll be able too if we will and struggle to unite with Christ. The saints by receiving Christ without hesitation in their life, become christs, bearers of Christ like Him. Thus they confess Him, preach Him, show Him everywhere all the time. They cannot live without Christ. For them He is everything.

Sometimes we are given different opportunities to confess Christ too. Sometimes we do it gladly other times with difficulty and other times we don’t do it at all because of fear and shame.

The true Christian always confesses Christ without fear, because he lives in permanent repentance and humbleness. He feels he is weak but he entrust himself completely to Christ and is perfectly strengthened. He confesses Christ Who lives inside himself. Sometimes we find it hard to confess Christ even before the closest and most beloved person. Then according to the Gospel the enemies of a man are his won kinsfolk. It happens that our closest ones don’t understand us and we dn’t make any attempt to tell them discretely about Christ. Other times we choose the other extreme talking too much about Christ so we tire them, we oppress them and in the end they get sick of it and don’t want to hear about Christ anymore.We can’t constrain or threaten anyone to follow Christ, even if it were our closest one.

Christ is freedom and love. He calls, doesn’t demand or constrain. We are called to inspire people love for Christ. When the man is threatened by the powerful ties of his ego he suffers of selfishness, individualism, egotism and pride and he finds it hard to love the others or God. So he is unable to confess Him before people. Whoever doesn’t confess Him doesn’t love Him. And who doesn’t love Him condemns himself at a glacial loneliness that will begin in this life and will continue in eternity. The selfish, the one who loves only himself feels the love of God as a fire that he cannot bear, he doesn’t want it, it bothers him, it burns him.

Today there are Christians who love the saints, read their lives, go to their celebration days, light candles for them, make the sign of the cross before their icons, build churches in their honor, make iconostasis, icons, vigil lights, holy wafers for them There are also some Christians who don’t love the saints, I don’t mean the atheists, the unbelievers, but about those who are influenced by rationalism, by a modern intellectual theology that considers all these a popular sick untheological piety. Unfortunately a good part of the Christian world did not fully understand the great value of the saints in our life.

However the piety, respect and warmth of the believers who love the saints are not missing. You see houses full of icons, lit candles, censers and are glad of that. You see the simple old women talking with tears in their eyes about the wondrous presence of the saints in their lives and they put their trust in their intercessions and the intercession of the Theotokos for their salvation and for getting heaven. Lovers of saints are those who look for authentic saints for aid and spiritual benefit. They don’t imagine saints, they don’t follow the false saints who mock true holiness but worship the authentic pure holiness. The lovers of saints are the most exquisite part of the parish communities. Continuing tradition, they honor piously the commemorations of our saints, they aren’t influenced by the false saints and are not shaken in their faith because of the church follies. When they face difficult situations they endure bravely and hopefully.

The saints always remain humble because they have the firm belief that all good is given from above and it is not their victory. Thus the saints cannot be proud of their charismas since these are given by the Father of Lights. Our saints having the full awareness of their charismas attribute any honor and worship to God the Giver. Being praised by men they praise the Spring of all goods, the most kind God. And God the more He sees that the man humbles himself the more He blesses him and fills him with grace, because He gives grace to the humble. A spiritual person who uses the charisma for his own glory and benefit will surely lose it and will compromise himself in front of people that he blackmails. He will be from this life troubled confused and miserable and in the hereafter will know eternal hell.

My brothers, there is even in these hard times some hidden holiness. Not only in the life of insignificant unknown unseen monks from deserts and monasteries but also in the world. The wives who bear bravely their lecherous brutal alcoholic indifferent and good for nothing husbands, who don’t find escape in divorce but endure and hope, pray and try to give a good education to their children. This attitude of the mother teaches the children what is good, it is a good example for them and an urge to virtue. And they shall never forget this lesson their entire life.This brave attitude may even make the most violent husband change and for sure God will give her the crown of patience for this long lasting martyrdom sometimes even for a lifetime.We’ve met such heroines of faith who for long years had lived a terrible martyrdom in silence, patience, prayer, tears, humility, faith and hope in God. And won’t God fill of grace such beautiful souls?

You see holiness has many sides. The men from the world will not be judged because they don’t pray more even if there are some who pray more than the monks. Saint John Chrysostom says: `The laymen will save themselves by mercy. This proves a humble soul that knows how to love. In our so wily and provoking time, whoever humbles himself restrains, purifies himself, is honest, sincere, right and just will find much reward in heaven.`

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