Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Double unhappiness awaits all those who don’t refrain their hearts from material desires which are not absolutely necessary – nor does it fit anything relating to the sexual desires – and who don’t gather their mind in their heart to offer them both to God.`
`Father is it always bad to have desires?`
`No, the desire of the heart is not bad in itself. Only when the things, even if they are not sinful – take pieces from my heart weakening my love for Christ. This desire is bad because the enemy cuts my love from Christ. When I want a precious thing, a book for example, and this takes a piece of my heart, then that’s bad. Why would a book take a part of my heart? Will I desire to have the book or Christ? No desire, no matter how good it may seem, is better than the one we have for Christ and Theotokos. When I give my heart to God could it be possible that God wouldn’t give Himself entirely to me? God asks for man’s heart. Give my your heart, my son! If the man gives Him his heart then God will give him anything he desires, only if it isn’t harmful for him. Only when the heart gives itself to Christ it is not wasted and only in Christ you find the rich bond of the divine love in this life and in the afterlife the divine joy.
We have to avoid the worldly things so that they won’t steal our hearts and use only the simple things for our necessities. We have to take care they are durable. If I want to use a nice thing it means I want to give my whole heart to beauty and there is nothing left for God. You pass by a beautiful house made of marble, with sculptures. You admire the stones, the bricks and leave your heart there.
Or you see in a shop some nice frames for your glasses and you want them. If you don’t buy them you leave your heart in the shop. If you buy them you hang your heart on the frames you are wearing. Especially the women are easily enticed. Few are those who don’t give their hearts for vanities. I mean the devil steals the richness of their hearts with all the colorful, bright worldly stuffs. One needs a plate? She will look for a plate with flowers. As if the food got sour if the plate didn’t have any flowers.
Some faithful women are moved by apparently serious things, for instance by an eagle with two heads. Afterwards they ask you: `Why aren’t we moved by the spiritual things?` How to be moved when your heart is scattered in cupboards, among plates? You don’t have a heart, only flesh and inside that it beats mechanically its tick-tack like the clock, only to be able to walk. Because a bit of your heart goes to a thing, a bit to another and there is nothing left for Christ.`
`Father, does it mean that these simple desires are sinful ?`
`These desires, no matter how sinless they might be are worse than the sinful ones. Because a sinful desire will shake the man somehow and some day his conscience reproves him for that and then he will try to go back and he will repent saying: `I was wrong, my Lord. While these apparently good desires don’t give him any uneasiness. He thinks he goes well. `I love what’s good, I love what’s beautiful. God made them all beautiful` he says Yes, but his love doesn’t go to the Creator, goes to the creations. That’s why is good to cut any desire. When someone does something for Christ and sacrifices what he loves, doing what he doesn’t enjoy, no matter how good would be what he likes, then God gives him much rest.
The heart before it cleanses has worldly desires and finds enjoyment in them. But when it cleanses up it will be disgusted by the worldly joys. From that moment on its joys will be spiritual. Only in this way the heart will be cleansed, when it gets disgusted by the worldly desires. Before that it is attracted by them. But you see, we don’t want to upset the old man lying inside us, we want to please him. But then how are we going to become followers of Christ?`
`Father, when I find it hard to cut a desire, I have to go on striving?`
`Yes, even if your hearts saddens because you don’t do what pleases it, you shouldn’t listen to it. Because if you listen to it you will feel a worldly joy then a worldly anxiety. And if you don’t listen to your heart and your hearts gets upset because you didn’t do what it pleases it and you will be glad of that, then the grace of God will come over you. Cause this is the aim: to gain the divine grace. And for gaining the divine grace we have to cut all our desires even if they were good. We have to cut our own will. Then the man humbles himself and when he humbles himself the divine grace will come to him. When the heart will have a worldly discontent, it will have a spiritual joy. As much as one can, should learn to avoid the worldly comfort and have an inner spiritual work so that he may gain divine comfort.
Pious Paissios the Athonite