A famous French actress, Fanny Ardant, in a recent interview given for the Greek newspaper TRIBUNE, said the following:
”Success is something you hardly understand. But in the time of a failure you can give a logical explanation. For failure brings you back face to face with yourself. I for instance don’t like compliments. A compliment is like a perfume. You use it, it smells for a while, it satisfies you. Then you get so used to it that you don’t feel it anymore. Only the others still feel it till it evaporates and then no one feels it anymore.
But an offense, no matter how unjust it would be, is like a light that shows us in the dark how we should be or what we should do. Therefore it helps more. It’s strange. I read somewhere that a singer kept only the letters that contained offensive comments on her. And I understand why she did it. Because she wanted to be vigilant all the time.”
The saints of the Church understood these things deeper and and better from their own life experience:
Once saint John Colovic was standing near the church. The brothers surrounded him and asked him about their thoughts.
Someone saw him, envied him and told him: ”John’s jug is full of poison!” Avva John answered: ”What you say it’s quite true. And you said this cause you saw only the outside stuff. But what would you have said if you had seen what’s in my soul?”
How did saint John reach so much humility that he could get a benefit (and make even others benefit as well!) from such an envious behavior? Very simply, by accomplishing Christ’s commandment: ”But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who harm and persecute you!”1
The actress’confession has a special significance for us. Cause many times we say: ”Christ’s commandments are difficult.” And when we hear about Saint John’s spiritual accomplishments we say: ”We are no saint hermits!” But we see that a wordly woman confesses – without invoking the Holy Scripture – Christ’s commandments that were perfectly accomplished by the saints are ”Light that shows us in the dark what we should be or what we should do.”
That’s why is worth your while a thousand times to strive, stepping in the saints’ footsteps, for achieving, as much as it’s possible for us, their spiritual peace.
Archimandrite Nikos Koutsidis
1 Matthew 5, 44