Having promised yesterday that we would say a few words on the
topic, I will say a few things, just so that I won't be untrue
to yesterday's promise.
As a follow-up to all those things, one wonders: all these
things that take place - everything that we do - our
pilgrimages, our candles, our night-vigils, our prayers, our
fasts, our gestures of charity - everything that we do in our
life - are for what purpose and what is the reason that
we do them? The answer to this question is very important,
because our correct or incorrect spiritual life is dependent on
Let me give you an example: I ask the children at the summer
camps that we have now: "what is God's greatest commandment?
What is God's most important commandment, my children?" And
all the children - all of them - quote various commandments: do
not steal...do not lie....do not be unjust to your
fellow-man....respect your parents.... how should I
know?......love your neighbour... but not one child has
suspected that none of these commandments is God's first
People think that the first commandment is "love thy neighbour",
and when I'd tell the children "no, that is not the first
commandment", a child would reply "yes, yes, I know which
one it is...". "Which is it?" I would ask. "Increase
and multiply". Well, of course that wasn't the first
commandment either, right?
first and only commandment - the first and only one, as
all the other commandments are the result of this first one - is
to love God with all of your heart. Christ Himself said that
the first commandment is: "You shall
love the Lord your God with all of your soul, with all of your
heart, with all of your might and with all of your mind."
a second commandment - a second one, similar to the first -
which springs from within the first commandment - is the one
that says "love
Everything else is a result of these.
If you love your neighbour, you will not rob him, you will not
lie to him, you will not be unjust with him, you will not take
his things, you will not tamper with his wife, you will not
interfere with his home, you will not censure him...that's what
we mean by "results of the first commandment". The "love your
neighbour" is likewise a result of the first commandment. If you
truly love God, it is impossible to not love your neighbour. A
person who loves God will have - as a natural result of his love
towards God - a love towards his brethren also.
Therefore, the first and only commandment by
God is to love God Himself with all our heart. Subsequently,
whatever we do in church, has that precise purpose.
And that is why we go to pilgrimages, why we
fast, why we pray, why we go to confession, why we light
candles, why we read the lives of saints, why we do everything:
it is our way of loving Christ.
Now, where is the mistake? The mistake is
that unfortunately, we say that we do all these things in order
to just become good people.... to become better people....and
that is where the big hoax lies. It is the step that we all
Because, if the purpose of the church was just to make
us better people, then there wouldn't be any need for a personal
relationship with Christ, nor would there be any reason for
Christ to have come to the world. Why do you think we aren't able to
understand the saints? Or, to say something simpler, why we
can't understand those who love God.
We tend to say "is it necessary to do this thing in order to
be saved - to be near to God? Is it necessary -let's say- to
depart to the mountains? Must we go and do all these things?"
Of course not. It is not a necessity. If we could understand
that our relationship with God is not only for the sake of
salvation, but is a relationship of love, only then will we
understand the saints also and why they did the things they did
(which can't be interpreted rationally). This is because love
transcends logic. Even secular love - the way that one person
loves another person - for example when one wants to get married
he loves his wife; he loves the young lady that he will wed -
and the same applies to the young lady - then they do things
that seem totally irrational. If -for example- you were to ask
her or him who is the most beautiful or handsome one in the
world, they will probably say it is their beloved. Naturally,
they are seeing the other through their own eyes.... Our eyes
see other things.... If, for example, you were to ask her who
the best man in the world is, she will describe the man she
loves with the finest words. She sees no flaws in him, no
faults... she can't see anything bad about him, because love
transcends all these things.
Love cannot be
forced into the molds of logic. Love is above logic. That is how
God's love is.
God's love surpasses human logic. That is why we
can't judge with logical criteria those people who love God.
That is why the saints reacted with a logic of their own - they
had a different kind of logic, and not the logic of humans;
because their logic was the "logic" of love. So, the church
does not teach us just to become good people - not in the
least. It is only natural, that we have to become good people,
because if we don't, then what have we succeeded in doing?
These are nursery school things. Our Church teaches us to love
Christ - to love the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Inside the church, a relationship develops. It is a personal
relationship between man and Christ; not with the teaching of
Christ - no - not with the Gospel. The Gospel is something
that helps us to reach the point of loving Christ. When we reach
that point of loving Christ, the Gospel will no longer be
needed. Nothing will be needed...all these things will
cease...only man's relationship with God will remain. That is
the difference between the church and religion.
Religion teaches you to do your duties, the
way the idolaters did.
An example: let's
say that we went to our pilgrimage sites, paid our respects,
left some money in the charity box, left some lit candles, some
oil, or even our entreaties, our names, our offering-bread,
everything. All these things are religious duties, but our
heart has not changed in the least. The hour of duty ends,
and we are the same as we were before: we are ready to attack
the other, ready to protest about the other, ready to be sour
again, the way we were before.... Our heart doesn't change.
We do not acquire that relationship with Christ, because we
simply confine ourselves to duties - to religious duties.
And you must know that such people - you
know, "religious" people - are the most dangerous kind in the
church. Those religious people are truly dangerous.
May God preserve us from them... Once, when
I was officiating in church and we were citing the words "Lord,
save the pious...", a Holy Mountain monk jokingly remarked:
"Lord, save us
other words, God save you from those "religious" types, because
"religious person" implies a warped personality, which has never
had a personal relationship with God.
perform their duties towards Him, but without any serious
relationship involved and that is why God does not say anything
about this type of person.
And I too must confess that - from my own experience - I have
never seen worse enemies of the church than "religious people".
Whenever the children of religious people, or of priests and
theologians - or even of those who in church act like
theologians and with self-importance - tried to become monks or
priests, they [the parents] became even worse than demons. They
would become exasperated with everyone. They became people's
worst enemies. I remember parents who would bring their children
to homilies, and when their child moved one step further, they
became the worst of people, who would say the worst about
others. And I would say to them: "but you were the
ones who brought the child to the homily; I didn't bring it."
other time, I told a father whose daughter I could tell had a
zeal for the church: "Make sure you don't bring her again to
any homily. Don't bring her to talk with me, because your
daughter will become a nun and afterwards you will say that I
was to blame." He replied: "Oh no, father, far be it! We
adore you!" And his daughter did in fact become a nun....
It has been seven years now, and he still isn't talking to me...
People who wouldn't miss a homily - not a single homily... those
who were always the first... at homilies, night-vigils, reading
books.. I don't know... at doing everything.... they would also
bring their children along, but when the time came for the child
to exercise its freedom - to decide by itself which path to
choose - then those people would move to the extreme opposite
camp, thus proving that Christ had never spoken to their
hearts.... They were merely "religious people". That is why
religious people are the toughest kind in the church. Because
you know what? Sometimes, people like these will never be cured,
because they only think they are close to God.
Sinners, on the other hand - the "losers", so to speak - at
least they know they are sinners. That is why Christ said that
publicans and whores will go to the Kingdom of God, whereas to
the Pharisees He had said: "You, who are 'religious',
shall not enter the Kingdom of God. Because the word of God had
never changed your heart."
They had merely adhered to the observance of religious
should all pay close attention and understand that
the church is a hospital that cures us and
helps us to love Christ, and our love for Christ is a flame
that ignites inside our heart so that we can examine ourselves,
to see if we are within God's love. If we discern all those
forms of malice and selfishness and wickedness inside us, then
we should be concerned,
because it is not
possible for Christ to be in our heart when we are full
of "vinegar" inside. How can you be praying and at the same
time be full of bile towards another person? How is it possible
to read the Gospel and not accept your brother?
How is it possible to say
"I have been in the church for so many years" - either as
a monk or a priest or whatever - and yet, where is that alpha
and omega, which is love? Where is that patience - showing some
patience towards your brother? By not embracing that, it means
you have accomplished nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We
saw how Christ reached the point of telling those virgins that
He would have nothing to do with them. He threw them out
of the wedding hall even though they had all the virtues,
because what they didn't have was love.
Because He would have wanted to tell them that "you may
have external virtues, you may have remained virgins, you may
have done a thousand things, but you didn't achieve the essence
of that which is the most important." If you can't achieve
that, then what do you need the rest for? What's the use,
whether I consume olive oil today, or I don't?
not eat olive oil - for example - but I devour my brother from
morning to night....
They used to say on the Holy Mountain "don't
ask if I eat fish; as long as one doesn't eat the fisherman, he
can eat fish";
or, "as long as you don't eat the oil-bearer, you can have a
drop of olive oil to eat"... To "devour" someone with a
sharp tongue is far worse than consuming a spoonful of olive
oil. And yet, we focus on things like that: we eat oil - we
don't eat oil; we eat fish - we don't eat fish...
I don't know what to say... someone may dip his spoon into
another dish and this could be the cause of an argument - a
cause for a huge quarrel with another person, just because he
dipped his spoon earlier on into another dish... You can see how
ridiculous these things are and how the demons make fun of us,
as well as they who are outside the Church.
they do approach us, instead of seeing the people of the Church
transformed into Jesus Christ, into sweet-natured people and
mature people - well balanced, fulfilled people - full of
harmony inside them, unfortunately, with all those passions of
ours and all that sourness,
they will inevitably
say: "What? And become like one of them?
I'd rather not!"
You, who are a churchgoer, tell me how the church has benefited
you. As we said yesterday you went to the pilgrimage sites, you
saw the fathers, you saw the holy relics, you saw the Holy
Mountain, the Holy Mother at Tinos Island - all those places
that we went to, and returned. What was the end benefit of all
those things? Was our heart transformed? Did we become humbler
people? Did we become more sweet-natured? Did we become meeker
people in our homes, our families, our monastery? Or at our
place of work? That is what counts. If we did not achieve
those things, at least let us become humbler... from within our
repentance....let us become humbler... If we didn't manage that
either, then we are worthy of many tears - we are to be pitied.
Because unfortunately, Time flies, and we are counting years....
When asked how many years he had lived on the Holy Mountain, the
Elder Paisios used to say: "I came here the same year as my
neighbour's mule." (His neighbour, old Zitos, had a mule -
and you know how every cell on Mount Athos has an animal, a
mule, for carrying their things. That animal has a long life
span; you don't buy a mule every day - they are too expensive).
"Well, the year that I came here, to the Holy Mountain, my
neighbour purchased his mule in the same year. We have the same
number of years on the Holy Mountain, and yet that poor beast
remained a mule, but then so did I. I didn't change at all."
So, we quite often say "I've been here for
forty years" - and we priests and monks tend to say these
words: "I have been in the monastery for forty years".
But what you don't realize is that those years are not in your
favour. God will say to you "Forty years, and you
still haven't managed to become something? You are still angry
after forty years, you still censure, you still contradict, you
still resist, you still don't submit? You've had forty years,
and you still haven't learnt the alpha - the first thing - about
monastic life, about Christian life? What am I supposed to do
with your years? What am I to do with you, if you have spent
fifty years with confessions
and you can't respond to another
person with a kind word? What use are all these things to me?"
These all weigh against us. And I am saying all these things,
firstly about myself. Because they apply to me first... And
because I know these things from myself, that is why I'm telling
you about them (and why you must think I'm saying them to each
one of you). People think that I'm referring to them, but it is
not you I'm referring to. It is firstly about me that I
mentioned these things... about me first....
We need to say these things to at least
humble ourselves; to keep our mouth shut, as all those egotistic
and other displays unfortunately ridicule us and make us look
foolish in the presence of the Lord. If we humble ourselves and
cease to have grand ideas about ourselves, maybe then can a
person begin to correct himself gradually through repentance -
which is born out of humility. A person who doesn't strive to
justify himself truly repents. He who keeps justifying himself
will never repent; and that person who always justifies himself
- either externally or internally - will never learn what
repentance means. That is why we should always examine
ourselves. "Test yourselves, brothers" the Apostle says.
Test yourself, to see if there is a love of God inside
And not so much that, but more so if we are living within the
realm of repentance, so that God can cure our existence - so
that this kind of association with the Church can heal us, and
so that we can become people who have been cured of their
passions and their sins.
Many ask how we can reach that point. How do we get there?
Well, when we leave ourselves in the hands of the good physician
- God; when we leave ourselves trustingly in God's hands;
because when we are in various circumstances, in difficulties,
God knows what is best for each one of us and will lead us
along those paths that will slowly, slowly, slowly over the
years perfect us - they will perfect us... All we need to do
is give ourselves to God with trust, the way we give our trust
to a doctor, or - say - the captain of a ship. We show trust.
He leads us, and we don't worry about the destination and when
we will arrive, because we know that the one steering the ship
is mindful, vigilant, and he knows the way and is careful.
Another important element that I would like to say something
more about (also because some of you have asked me to) is the
matter of time.
Did you notice during these days that we have been spending on
this ship, how we had no external distractions? We had nothing
to draw our attention elsewhere, like at home - for example
television. Did you see how much time we had available? We even
conversed among ourselves. You who are married had time to talk
to each other - the spouses and the children. The children
played together, they talked amongst themselves, and we had lots
of time to ourselves and we communicated with each other, and
that is the most important element of all: that we could
communicate. The most tragic thing is at home, when everyone is
sitting in front of the television and they don't talk to each
other... time slips away and people do not communicate with each
other. And the worst of all? It is the things we see on
television... that's the source of the worst corruption for the
ones close to us, our children and our souls. One of these days,
when we had disembarked and were walking about the place, I
noticed in one of those places where the youngsters serve
different things, where they are offered refreshments, that they
had a television switched on which was playing, and even though
nobody was paying attention to it, it was still on. So I stood
there for a moment, to see what it was showing - although I
don't know what kind of film it was... I guess it was
something... it was showing some people who were chasing after
some other people all the time, and there was a constant
chase....there were guns, bullets, cars, explosions, jumping
from one house to another... But these are things that your
children - your young children - sit and watch; so much
violence... and I'm not even talking about all the other
obscenities that I don't want to mention, which have even
destroyed elderly people. And don't you tell me that it's not
like that, because I know it is, first hand: these are
admissions that we hear during confession. Elderly people, very
old people, who are otherwise very respectable, have been ruined
by television, from all that vulgarity that they are exposed to
every day. I'm not referring to that specific damage right now;
I am referring to all the other things - all the violence that
the television projects. How do expect the children to not
become familiarized with violence? They will naturally become
unruly and disobedient and do things that are entirely foreign
to their nature!
Have you any idea what
an ugly sight it is, when you see young children mimicking older
people? They mimic adults, and they destroy their innocent
childishness. Sometimes, when I 'm invited to an event, they
bring along tiny toddlers and tell them to dance. And you see
these little girls or boys, ten or twelve years old, full of
innocence, making dance moves that they have seen older women do
- women who are entirely disgraceful, with another morality
altogether. You can actually see how those children are being
destroyed, with their emulations of the adults that they see on
television. And also doing all sorts of things and entertaining
themselves with choices that are catastrophic. And I am not
saying this from the spiritual aspect only, but from every
aspect - psychological and social and family. Keep them as far
away as you can from all these things. Help your children to
not be dependent on television, because they will be filled with
all those obscene images, and so will you. If you don't
allow your children to watch obscene movies, but you the adult
does, then what's the use? And what about those silly warnings
that they write on screen - that the movie is not suitable under
18 or something... or whatever else it says... younger than 12
or something like that.... Does that mean that if they turn 12
the sight is a suitable one? Of course those warnings
only arouse the youngsters' curiosity and every one of them will
inevitably watch the film. They think to themselves that if this
movie is forbidden for those younger than 12, it must have
something that is deserving of every curiosity...
In my opinion, the destruction that is inflicted on people's
inner world is incalculable. Because, as we said yesterday, all
positive images, all the good images that one absorbs are
extremely beneficial in one's spiritual life. The same applies
in reverse, with the bad images that a person observes - they
create so many bad situations, that the damage caused is
literally incalculable and sometimes we can't tell if it can be
cured. But if someone were to observe matters and study them, he
will see just how great a catastrophe television can wreak on a
person's psyche, and especially in younger people. But it is not
only that; you see, one evil will bring on another. It will be a
whole chain of evils, because it destroys communication, it
destroys time, it destroys the innocence of a person's soul, and
then man becomes exhausted, and being exhausted, he has no
desire to do anything. Because his soul was filled with
things that wearied him, and then he wonders why he is tired -
he can't understand why... Try to experiment, by
eliminating or at least minimizing these evils, and you will see
how much more relaxed you will become and how much free time you
will have at your disposal, which will be far more fruitful for
anything else that you may do.
Naturally, these things are not unrelated to our spiritual life,
because a person's spiritual life is a product of all the
activities that a person has. By this, I don't mean to say stop
watching television altogether. I am not against it per se; it's
just that things like these make our life more difficult instead
of making it easier, and they destroy it, the way it was
destroyed by technological "progress" which has -otherwise-
facilitated our lives. You catch a plane, and you're there. You
get on a ship, and you get there quickly - you don't need to row
with oars like they used to do in olden times.... or a thousand
other conveniences... which in the long run are conveniences
that may have facilitated our lives, but they also trapped us
inside one big difficulty and made us lose ourselves, they made
us lose the beauty of our life and we eventually destroyed the
world we live in, and now we want even more sciences and
discoveries, to see if we can salvage what is left of it...
Of course all these things that constitute the tragedy of our
Fall and the mangling of our personality make it abundantly
clear just how impossible it is to humanly tackle the problem,
and yet, if one turns to God, then we will see that which Christ
had said: that whatever is impossible for man to accomplish, is
possible by God. Whatever seems impossible for people is
possible for God - and we can see around us that miracle by God,
which, even in our day, with all the information and all these
provocations taking place around us, and the accessibility to
sin, still, there are people who love God and from among the
thorns, we see roses spring forth... Roses blossom from among
the thorns, and the immense miracle of man's salvation becomes
reality, regardless of our own human weaknesses, our wretched
state, our problems, the difficulties with our self, our church,
our family, our society and the other elements that
unfortunately bombard every person. That is why - to return
from all these things - we need to return where we started from,
when we said that the solution and the answer to all problems is
for man to turn towards loving God, and that when man loves God,
then God will cure him, God will resurrect him - even if that
person is dead and decomposing - God will restore him, provided
man discards from inside him all that is useless and put in his
heart a love for God, and build his life around that love for
God, and atop that love for God - to build his life, his
marriage, his family, his path, his studies, his course. If man
does that, then he will truly come to enjoy life and his life
will become a paradise, because paradise is nothing more than
God's love, whereas "hell" is nothing more than the absence of
So, it is my wish, as a conclusion to our broadcast, that the
love of God will always accompany all of you, and that we should
not forget that everything we do, we must do for that reason,
and not just to be
people. We must become God-loving people, so that our lives can
be transformed correctly and we ourselves be transformed into
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Finally, I would like to also thank you for attending this
excursion of our Metropolis... To thank you, because we had a
truly good time; beautiful, peaceful, with no significant
difficulties... well, maybe a few minor things that we
encountered, but they were insignificant. I believe that all of
us were spiritually benefited by this excursion. I must thank
God above all, for sheltering us from every evil. We went, and
we returned, all safe and sound. And I must also warmly thank
our captain and the others - and Lenia Orfanidou - who undertook
the planning of this excursion and who helped us all so that
things would flow smoothly with the appropriate correctness and
precision, because you should know that this excursion was not
prepared in a day, but is the result of labours over many
months. It takes a lot of work and a lot of trouble to organize
even what we have to eat for lunch and dinner, with the utmost
So, I pray that we will all have the shelter and the love of God
in our lives, and the reciprocation by God to all those who
toiled for this excursion.
God be with you.