There is a new trend among people, to change their religion. It is easier somewhere else with the fasting, the prayer and the holy services. They seem nicer, more elegant, more human, and closer to their needs. Unfortunately many villages from Moldavia, in other times a bastion of Orthodoxy, convert themselves to other religions, to sects more specifically. `We could blame the Church or its ministers for this phenomenon and it could be very easy to do so`, said the father, `but we should not look there for guilt.`
And for giving an example the father took out the bunch of keys and said shaking them: `This is the number of Orthodox people who will remain Orthodox.` The weak ones fall from orthodoxy as the withered leaves.` The people who fall are those who preach in a wrong way instead of seeing and understanding the true faith, who judge the others and draw the conclusion that the teaching of our Church is a bad one, a difficult one to bear. And I say that our teaching is the perfect but we due to the great gift of freedom we have to choose take sometimes the wrong decisions. And from here is drawn the conclusion that the received teaching is not a good one. The head of the Orthodox Church is our Lord Jesus Christ himself. Orthodoxy cannot fall, although some people do. The Church is led by men only administratively but the saving role belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. And the biggest mistake of those who fall from Orthodoxy is that they judge in a worldly way the heavenly things.
If an alcoholic comes to me willing to get rid of his vice in a few weeks if he stays here and attends regularly the holy service, goes healed. A reveller in two three months goes out healed, a man who is addicted to drugs goes out healed in less than a year but there is no remedy for a sectarian. Because by choosing something else instead of the right faith the grace leaves him and without grace we cannot speak of healing, so I cannot help him.
The sectarian does not receive the grace of Theotokos since he denies her, he doesn’t benefit from the aid of the saints whom he denies and he doesn’t benefit of the blessed power of the Holy Cross which he denies as well, denying in this way his own identity, his own faith and the faith of his ancestors. However I cannot be glad thinking that they will lose their salvation with the righteous believers. You may be surprised by what I said but it is not enough to believe in God, you must believe in Him. Here is a fundamental difference.
This means not to complain when you face a trial or another, not to question the decisions taken by God.
Grumbling is the expression of faithlessness or of a weak faith. If we don’t ask for help from God the conclusion is clear: we will follow our mind when we do things. Why this thing may be wrong, even if we have good intentions? Because our mind may be altered. The more spiritualized you are, you see the world through the eyes of God, the more preoccupied you are by the material things and addicted to sins the more you see the world with the eyes of the demons. If you ask for help, you receive a clear mind. Of course that a clear mind doesn’t mean to ask for help and harm other people or accumulate possessions. Humble yourself before people and have the courage to stand straight at confession and say with courage what you did, especially the shameful things. Humbleness doesn’t mean to humble yourself before people, but to become aware that nothing belongs to you. If you have a fortune, you are a simple administrator of that fortune which you can lose very easily. Instead of becoming upset because of this you should realize that the fortune never belong to you. You can lose a hand or a leg because not even the body belongs to you. It is given to us to use it temporarily. Intelligence doesn’t belong to us either although we are so often proud of it. I don’t think that there is anyone who programmed with how many neurons to be born.
Absolutely all of these are gifts. Only when we realize that nothing belongs to us and everything is given and we thank for everything, we humble ourselves. Many people think that the monks are social misfits. But I tell you something else: a monk or a nun is a fulfilled person, with an iron will and faith. When he said he gave up on smoking he did it, when he said he gave up on drinking he did it. When he decided to live in purity he did it. When he said he would practice obedience giving up on his own will he did that. When he said he didn’t want anymore money, social position and ranks he kept his word. What will do you need to do all these? A big one. But with your will you receive power from God in an equal measure. You give will and take power. The level reached by the monk depends on the height of humbleness he reached. And he can reach that level by becoming aware of what we said before and by applying the rules given by the teaching of faith. We cannot speak of faith if we don’t obey the teaching and the commandments. The number of sins doesn’t matter. What matters is humbleness and repentance form sins. Many times we face trials which are beyond our powers and the fall into these sins is in fact the ascent of humbleness. Meaning that you realize you cannot do anything alone and ask for help from God. Or this should happen if you become aware of the status of sinner.
I saw alcoholics who tried in many ways to give up on alcohol and they couldn’t succeed that. When they realized that this effort was beyond their power and asked for help sincerely and repentantly from the Most Kind God and Theotokos they had the greatest surprise: the temptation and the appetence for drink disappeared as if they did not exist. And the same happens with the smokers and the debauched. The examples are present everywhere. This means humbleness: to become aware that without divine help you cannot succeed in anything. But this implies to behave accordingly, not falsely but respecting sincerely those around you and especially refraining yourself from judging the others. Because when you judge, you practically take our God’s place of judge which is inadmissible. Here we speak about the lack of humbleness and where is no humbleness the divine grace doesn’t abound. But who are the humble ones? The humble ones are those who have a serene face, who are happy, content with what good God gave them. They are those who don’t want anything and because of this they have everything. They are glad of everything and thankful for what they receive. Those who are sullen and focused on improving the quality of their life are not content with what they received from God and they have no humbleness. They permanently seek ways to improve their material situation and they practically forget to live. In the end they will realize this thing but it will be too late. The word God, Your will be done loses its essential meaning because these people want in fact to be done their own will. So keep in mind that you will have everything when you don’t want anything anymore and this because not everything you want is useful to you for your salvation.
Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.