Archimandrite Andrew (Conanos)
The pretext for this conversation was SMS, which I received the other day. Now I will open it and share with you some of my thoughts.
May all be well! Be happy and calm in this world of absurdity and problems. After all, even if the crisis is at the door, and the difficulties surround you, your heart can be in joy. You can not lose heart. Only your child will smile at you, your child, your soul will fill with joy - he will take all your weight from you. You will be embraced by the person you love - your wife, your husband, your children - and again your soul is happy. You may not have millions, but a heart full of love, warmth, good books in the house ... Live with a feeling of inner peace, kindness and beauty even in this bitter time! After all, how wonderful it is: to read a novel, historical or scientific work, something else that you like, and through this move to another world and say: "Well, times are difficult. But how much in the world is beautiful! "What did Christ say? Look at the birds! On the flowers! How marvelous they are! In a world that is suffering, in a world where earthquakes happen, beautiful flowers blossom! And they give us their beauty and fragrance. Find a way to maintain inner balance, stand with straightened shoulders and not get lost in adversity! Time goes by. Is not it?
So, sms-ka. At our parish we often serve night liturgies. What for? For young couples, and for not very young people who want to rest on Sunday morning, and go to church on Saturday night. Service ends after midnight, half-hour - in the hour. Many come, they like ...
Christ never denounced sinners as he rebuked the hypocrites
And after the liturgy a group of young people comes to me, they say: "Father, we did not eat from dinner. Let's go and eat with us, we invite you. " And although I was also a little hungry, but all sorts of thoughts came to my head: "Well, you're a priest! And what will they say about you? This is all worldly ... father does not fit "- and I refused. Then they say: "Do not worry, we're by car, we'll stop along the road and just take a shish kebab." "Shish-kebab," I thought to myself, "how much would you like a shish kebab!" - but I tried to show that I did not care! I tried to find the truth inside myself. The heart said, "I want to!" But what I "had to show" is "I do not want", because "I have to live as taught by the lives of the saints, holy fathers, Philokalia: when you survived the Divine Liturgy, approached Christ , then you do not want anything else. " So books speak, and those who wrote these books probably lived that way. But I do not live like that. I do not stay in such a state - and now that I have received the sacrament, I will go home, pray for another couple of hours and go to bed, and do not eat anything, or eat one biscuit. " Yes, I was hungry, and this is the truth that was inside me. But outwardly I tried not to show it. So the Pharisees looked pious, as it should, fasted, everything was right outside ... At the same time, Christ, addressing them, said: "You are like coffins, beautiful on the outside, and inside are full of uncleanness. You carry in yourself the corpse of hypocrisy, the deceitful "I" (cf. 23, 27). Christ never denounced sinners as he rebuked the hypocrites. Theologically everything is theological: I have the status of a priest! And then I remembered one saint who said: "Are you a priest? So what? What do you show the world? What you really are, or what is not? Do you represent the holy ascetic, the famous hermit, the exceptional spirituality of man, not being him? Are you portraying - or are you what you are? "
The Monk Paisius of the Holy Trinity
I, I remember, asked Father Paisiy in 1990-m, whether to engage in conversations or not, to pronounce important and lofty words before schoolchildren, or is it better not? He turned and asked: "If one of the neighbors asks you where the school is, do you know what to answer?" - "Yes." "And if they ask you where the bakery is in the area?" "I know." "And if someone asks you where America is, and different details about America, do you know what to say to them?" - "No, I do not know." "Why," he says, "you do not know?" "Because I've never been to America." "You see," Father Paisy continued, "do not tell America about them, because you do not know!" Talk about what you know and what you've experienced. Talk about the bakery, about the school. " The bakery and the school are where we send people. I send you to a bakery, you bring bread and eat it. I send you to school, where you study the letter. I am the conductor and show where to go. Well, if the priest, the theologian, the spiritual person from whom they are waiting for help, observes this border ("I'm not God, I can not save people, I'm one of you, I'm just like you, an ordinary person").
What distinguishes us, priests, is the desire for a closer connection with God, but this does not mean that we succeeded in this. I'm also human. I also eat, drink, wash, pollute the environment, like everyone else. One day a child at school saw how I eat at a break, and I was amazed how people in what people say to them are refracted! It's like we priests live in a different world! And do not neglect it, say: Well, okay, so let them think so. People can imagine in their fantasies that we pray elevated above the ground, but that's not true! And if we show them the truth, they will understand that we are not very different from them. So, at school at a break I stood and ate something. Suddenly a child turns to me and is amazed: "Oh." I say: "What happened?" - "Father, are you eating?" I say: "Um, why should not I eat ?!" The boy was shocked.
And again I remembered the words of that saint: "Let those who listen to you see you at least occasionally in everyday situations, see your real behavior!" Not the one who speaks from the pulpit, posing as a beautiful spiritual shepherd, who is already no land concerns, but, for example, who in the parish pilgrimage counts people, and someone is missing. And suddenly the "good and spiritual shepherd" starts to get nervous: "Well, where is this woman! Where did she get it! "And the parishioners say to themselves:" So, is the father also annoyed? "And let: but they see that you are the same as everyone else.
Do not create a feeling around yourself that you are something completely different. This will lead neither to unity, nor to good missionary work, nor to the authenticity of morals, nor to honesty before God, nor to sincerity before people. And, finally, neither God nor people want this from you at all. When you show something false, like me, when I say: "If they see me as I am, they will be disappointed." No, do not be disappointed, try it, and you'll see. They will understand that you also eat, that you have tried a piece of tiropitus (a Greek pie with cheese - AN) from that mistress, and then asked for one more, and a third and a fourth, - and they will say: "And, and the priest likes to eat! And he likes those things that we like. "
A person descends from heaven to earth and realizes that God is there. Where? In the truth. In everyday life and everyday life. And spirituality is, first of all, that you are real, humble, in your behavior open to others, and do not hide (like I do, and maybe someone else), and do not show outside that you are so good.
In the end, I agreed to go with everyone: "Lord, I'd better listen, I will not separate from the guys and follow the words of the saint:" Be close to people such as you are, do not depict what you are not, do not sell holiness, which you do not have. "" I remembered the theological conferences where, although we are talking about the most exalted and spiritual things, when coffee breaks, and everyone comes out, we have a treat before us - coffee, pechenyushki, various pleasant goodies, and all lean! - and they say to you: "Eat, eat, they are lean, do not worry!" You put the candy in your mouth, and it melts. Is she also lean? "All lean, eat as much as you want!" And you eat five lenten chocolates, and return to the conference room, and the conversation continues about the elders, who had only flannel, torn on the chest from the long years during which they wore it. One is theory, the other is practice, the elders talked and did what they said.
We are talking about them, but we are completely different. We are confused, jealous of others and do not understand that what we live in is spirituality: in the kitchen, with children, with my husband, with my wife, at work, in the bus, in the office, in the clouds in which we are hovering, where no matter where we are. Spiritual, material, worldly, Divine - everything is bestowed by God, everything is blessed by Him, everywhere His grace, His light, His kindness and love are reached. And when you get married, suddenly you begin to envy the ascetics and say: "Oh, why did not I become a monk!" Oh, how great it is now on the Holy Mountain! "You are jealous of what you yourself can experience and are already experiencing! "Yes, but I'm not there, and I can not see the swinging polyeleos, the monastic vestments, the schema ...". And is this, my dear, spirituality? These are external images. Do you remember how St. John of the Ladder talked? "It's very easy to become a monk outwardly - he put on his robe, let go of his beard and hair, and everything - a monk. But not small, but a great work is necessary to make your inner man a monk. " One marries and envies monks. The other becomes a monk, and his gaze turns to the worldly, and he says: "Well, why did not I create a good family, now I'm alone". We do not rejoice at what we do. We do not understand, that through all comes the grace of God.
We can be involved in God through our loneliness. We can live spiritually and sacredly through family, through our work, through meetings with people, and to understand that everything is one in the grace of God. We have one goal. That Gospel that I read, you read.
When you have problems, you say: "There are no problems in monasteries!" You say that you would not have such problems in your monastery! You would live spiritually, with beads in your hands, and you would not have any conviction, no curiosity, no jealousy, no jealousy, nothing. You would be an angel! You hear?! That's what people think. And we make an impression on them, priests. But is it good? Anyone who professes in a monastery, male or female, knows very well that everything is completely different from what is seen from without. Why do people think so? Because they like to think highly, even if everything is wrong. Does it help in the spiritual life? Or it creates insanity in the brain, and the person complains: "I will never become like them." And who are they? The same people. At the same time, for their part, they sometimes also convince you of your rightness and "humbly" accept this attitude. When someone suggested to Paisiya's father: "Let's go, we'll sit in a closed cabin, it's for the monks, because these are for the lay people, and we should not lose what they got," he replied: "And what will we lose, father ? What do we have that they do not have? We are the same people. Are we not jealous, not angry, do not have selfishness, pettiness? And we are also called monks! "
You do not need a theater! I can not believe that God can bless the "theater". When you show "theater", God does not bless it.
Once a woman came to me, living far from Athens. And he says: "Father, I think of you when you pray. The day before yesterday I got up at three o'clock in the morning and began to pray too. " I told her: "What are you? I was asleep, not praying. " Although the first thought came to me: okay, since she thinks I'm praying at night, I will not dissuade her. And then I say to myself: what did the Athonite monk say to me? Do not tell a lie, do not show a false icon to people! - "It is excluded, my father, I know you are hiding!" - "Why should I hide? I just slept! "-" I know that you do not sleep every night, but pray. " - "All right, listen! You show kindness of your heart when you say so, but the truth is different. I sleep at night, sometimes I pray a little, sometimes more, and go to bed, and at night I sleep. " "Ah," he says, "you've spoiled everything!" - "Why? Can not you pray without regard to how and when I pray? Can you really not feel God without regard to whether I'm high or low? "
It's good to think that someone is high, but sometimes it leads to an inverted picture: many despair, are disappointed, afraid to approach the priest, find it difficult to confess, it is difficult for them to tell the truth, simple trivial truths that we all know and must understand each other . But in our minds it was such a representation that the priests - they are very high. And what does it mean high? After all, those who are really high - they, to rise, began from below and fought with low sins. And just they will understand you, having passed that struggle, and maybe, the same falls that happen to you. This is necessary to show people.
The Lord, bypassing all, will come to our heart and say: hypocrite
I'm not just talking about priests now. I'm talking about you, too, when you instruct your husband, your children, your girlfriend, your neighbor, and build a teacher. As if you have already mastered yourself with everything! How does someone dare to approach you ?! If you are incorporeal and all become like God (representing to others this false image). So why are you acting at home in a completely different way? This duality confuses us, and does not help others. So my eyes opened with respect to a man whose image seemed to me impeccable. Outwardly the noblest, dearest, most spiritual, etc. And his child never wanted to go to church. And I asked myself: why does the child of such a holy father not go to church? Two years later the child shared with me: "If you saw my father at home, when the door closes behind him! Not when he talks with you or with someone else, but with us at home! "And, having described two or three situations, he returned me from heaven to earth. I realized that one writes books, another we say, the third we do, the fourth we represent. What will the Lord appreciate? What will he look at? I think He bypasses everything, comes to our heart and says: a hypocrite. What did He say to the Pharisee? On Great Thursday, at the beginning of the Gospel, remember? Pharisee, you are blind, but you pretend to be a leader. But you are the leader of the other blind (cf. 15, 14). And when you are the first of the blind, how will you help others ?! How will you help them without having light in your heart? Light is authenticity, sincerity, truthfulness, humble acceptance: yes, I am like you, but I struggle.
Do you remember how you asked me in confession: "Father, how do you understand me?" - "I understand, because I also do this." - "Do you even reach the handle, get angry, jealous, condemn?" - "Of course!" - "But you overcame it all in yourself!" - "No, but the doctor who prescribes the prescription for you did not solve all the problems with his health, but nevertheless prescribes medicines, and you slowly recover. " To depict a fake in the sheep's clothes that you wear, that's where the tragedy is!
Man, your child, does not demand perfection from you, does not require holiness at all costs. He wants authenticity, sincerity, humility and repentance.
Let's help each other. If you want, because I'm a little older, I'll show you the way, I go it myself. And then you'll see that the other loves you without having to hide all the time and pretend to be something in front of him. The protection goes down, the souls communicate, hearts join, because we go one way, we have only flour, and in the end there will be a very sweet fruit, which is called love, conscience, feat, non-judgment, lack of comparison and blame. You embrace everyone and they say to you: "Our father is very good, we love him. He has flaws, but he tries. He does not pretend to us anything other than what he is. We do not want an angel. God therefore did not place angels beside us, but people, so that they could feel us, understand, and that we understand them. " The best confession you can tell a person who, you know, understands you and allows you to understand him. It gives affinity and detachment. The closeness of openness and the detachment of respect and fear. And you say to yourself: he is what he is, he gives me a glimpse into his soul and see his struggle.
"Let's go, but I will not leave the car, I'll wait for you in the car and we'll eat there." - "Well!" And we went to eat shish kebab. One of the guys asks me: "What for?" And I remembered that they were preparing a good sauce. And I say: "Two with sauce." The guys went, bought themselves and two brought me. One of the guys got into the car and ate with me. He first came to night service, I was already so uncomfortable with him, and then there was a sauce on his beard, she got dirty, I say to myself: "Oh, I just was in the altar, I served, and now I eat shish kebab with sauce ... Here the man looks at me, what will he say? "My thoughts were eating: what would they say, what would they think ... We finished, went home, and the next day I see a cell phone from a young man who was sitting with me in the car. He writes: "Yesterday you so pleased me! The longer I know you, the more my love and respect for you grow, I see that you can live with God and remain a man. "
I read again the name, well, that same young man with whom I ate a shish kebab nearby. He continues: "So you can be a real Christian, even if you live in peace and eat shish kebab with sauce! And even then your prayer will be favorable to God. " What I thought would lead to temptation did not embarrass him, but, on the contrary, helped.
Sometimes you write scripts inside of yourself, but nothing you invented works for you. You are throttled with thoughts, and you are tormented in vain. The people around us are not as bad as we think about them because of their own depravity. If you were in his place, you would condemn. But not everyone condemns. Fortunately, not everyone is like you and me. There are fine people, humble, with an open embrace of the soul, and they accept you as you are, and treat you with reverence. To such as you are.
So, through shish kebab with sauce, I grew up in the eyes of this young man and in his respect for me. The SMS ends: "To be sanctified, one should not go into a cave or mountains, but, living simply, an ordinary life, we can feel Christ alongside." What are the most important words here? "Living simply." Simple life, authentic, sincere, sanctifies. Through it, we can feel Christ alongside. Because it is to such souls that Christ comes - to simple, loving each other, not wanting to seem one better than another. And the last words: "I want to learn from you not words, but a way of life. I ask for your prayers. "
You see how the sms about shish kebabs with sauce gave us an excuse to talk about so many things - theological, church, wind. Everything is submerged in the grace of God. I remember the story of the orange that Father Paisii ate, and one person stood by and watched him eat an orange (an orange, not a shish kebab with sauce!), And told him that grace was coming from the old man. Another asked: "Why? Did he say something to you? He ate an orange differently than others? "-" No, just like others, but I felt at that moment that I was enveloped in the love of God. "
You can simply eat an orange and exude the grace of God around the simplicity of behavior and life. You can peel beans or onions, fry, cook, and your children will watch TV in the living room, you will pass by and say: "Lift the legs, children, let me pass," and they will feel that love, affection, kindness are near. Spirituality comes from the noise of the vacuum cleaner, from the sound of the plates in the kitchen, from how you hang up the linen, how to park the car, how you look at your child, who opens and closes the door, you carry a cart with groceries to the supermarket, or you stop at a gas station to refuel, - Spirituality is poured out of all this, from everything that you do, from everything that you say, without nerves, with humor, with optimism, from everything that you are silent about. This is spirituality.
We have concluded spirituality in special spheres of life and excluded it from everyday life, forgetting that spiritually everything
Our huge mistake is that we have concluded spirituality in special spheres of life and excluded it from everyday life, forgetting that everything is spiritual.
You saw me at school when I was playing basketball, and I told you: "Stop arguing, why are you talking like this ?!" You turned and said: "We do not have a religion lesson now, Father." I said, "Let's talk later when the game ends." And then I explained to you that both basketball and the school bus that takes you to school and home, and the music you listen to in headphones - everything has God. God is in you, whatever you do. And the lesson of religion is not an hour or two a week. The lesson of religion begins when the lesson is over. Churches begin to work in us and show the power of prayer after the end of the service. It is then that spiritual life begins.