The freedom of humbleness

There is a great pressure of expectations which burdens the priests and monks. The people with a lot of good faith expect from them a saving word, a solution to their problems, an answer to the existential or spiritual questions. This pressure is so great that many monks and priests can`t avoid it and they feel crushed under its burden and they will comply to it. Because of the fear of expectations they will improvise or they will behave sanctimoniously. They will jump into the murky waters of hypocrisy. It may happen to them to make mistakes because of their fear not to hurt or guide blindly on dead-end roads.

All these especially during youth when experience is scarce and as scarce as this it is the shield of defense against expectations; not only the expectations of those from the outside but even your own expectations, your own representations about how you should be or behave in certain  situations.

In such conditions a word of abba Pamvo is revealing: `He overcame many by this: when he was asked about a word from the Scripture or about a spiritual matter, he didn`t answer quickly, he said he didn`t know that. If you insisted with your questions, he would not answer to you.

These words about elder Pamvo are an air breath and a manifest about freedom. One of the qualities of the elder which made him special among the others, it was not the accuracy of his answers, the fact that he had never been caught without having the words with him. The holy fathers don`t refer at this kind of smartness from the slum. They are not in an exterior competition. What it matters is the truth and for this reason the holy fathers have a great respect for the uttered words. Seeking the truth with any price, the ascetics practice their discernment and lucidity. These on their turn are a safe path to freedom.

The freedom which abba Pamvo showed is the freedom of humbleness; of the one who can say I don`t know, who doesn`t rush to give his opinion and who doesn`t want to give advice to others at any price.

When we are asked (honestly without any hidden thought) we perceive the question as a form of validation of our own person. We are put into light and it seems to us that we begin to matter. Our need of appreciation and love opens the gate to pride which binds us with strong chains and from there only with great difficulty we can escape by the grace of God. To be able to say that you don`t know in such conditions means to be able to defy your own expectations and the expectations of the others and ignore your need to be appreciated and admired by others and humbly to value truth more than anything else. This is one form of freedom.

Pr. Paul Siladi


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