Patristic Tradition

Sinful people have many reasons for humility ( 04.04.2009 )

Those who once lived a sinful life, and after repented, turning to spirituality, should constantly humble with joy, accepting the misfortunes they got in, because they redeem their sins in such way. We see how Venerable Mary from Egypt, who lived her sinful life, since the moment she repented and changed her way of life, has been disturbed by her own desires of worldly life. She fought a big inner fight to cut off such desires. The devil talked to her: “What will you lose if you see Alexandria shortly? You don’t have to go and have fun, just take a glance, even from distance.” But, she didn’t turn backward. Her repentance was big enough not to do so! Other venerable women, not living worldly life, never had so big fight. Venerable Mary, who lived in the world, has had a fierce fight. Such a big suffer helps us in healing of the wounds that we’ve got on us, living our sinful life. In this way, both those who lived or didn’t live a sinful life reach the same level of spirituality.


- Elder, is it possible that in all such cases there is no any divine consolation?

- Oh, there are! A lot of consolations, indeed. Venerable Mary reached such high level of spirituality, so that she was levitating one foot over the ground while praying.


Big sinners, if they know themselves well, naturally have a lot of reasons to humble. Each fall in his nature is a fall, but it gives us a motive to pray and humble. Sins, when used for conciliation are like a fertiliser to the plants we’re planting. And, why should man stay without such benefit, to cultivate the field of his soul, so that it becomes fruitful? Therefore, if the one who has been sinning a lot feels his guilt and says: “I must not rise my head (eyes) even, and look at another man”, humbling down, receives a lot of grace from God and advances forward, and he may praise very high in such a way. On the other hand, the one who didn’t make such big sins, but didn’t take the right position, saying to himself: “God saved me from many evils, but I’m so ungrateful and sinning, and I’m bigger sinner than the biggest one,” – then he is spiritually lagging behind the first one, described above.    


Remind yourself in example, about the Publican and the Pharisee. The Pharisee has been doing a lot of good deeds, but he was very proud of himself. The Publican did many sins, but became aware of them, having inner humility – the most important deed that Lord Jesus requests from the man, and that’s why the Publican was so easily saved. You saw how the Pharisee looks like on the icon! He fixes his index finger to the Publican saying: “I’m not like him!”… The poor Publican is hiding behind the post; he’s frighten even to look around, while the auspicious Pharisee shows Jesus where the Publican is hidden! Did you notice this? As if Jesus didn’t know where was the poor Publican! The Pharisee, in spite doing everything according to the regulations, his efforts were useless. What can the useless pride achieve? When someone sins, but not humbles, then he is sinful as the Publican and proud like the Pharisee.

Doubled…”gifts”! “Both scabby and lousy” – as they say in Epir.


Do your best to deny the spiritual poisons and passions so that you may achieve a spiritual health.


Elder Paisij frm Mount of Athos