Gely Korzhev Chuvelyov- Temptation-1985
on Last Sunday’s Epistle:
“Instruct me, Father, how to protect myself from the terrible temptation of passions in general, and from tempting thoughts while praying at home or even in church.”
“The beginning of all these temptations,” the Elder responded, “Is pride. A man imagines that he is living piously, not judging his own sinfulness at all, but sometimes even judging others—then, the Lord allows the enemy to lay snares for him. Be attentive to your own way of life, check your conscience, and you will always come, however unwillingly, to the conviction that you have not yet fulfilled even one of the Lord’s commandments as a Christian should. Reasoning in this way, you will clearly see your spiritual weaknesses, which cause fleshly falls. In order to deliver yourself from these falls, you must acquire humility. As far as the sinful thoughts at church or while praying at home are concerned, since they are not caused by you, but by the enemy, you don’t have to be troubled. Try not to dwell on these thoughts, but turn to God instead with the prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ Here is an example for you: when parents take their little children out for a walk, they usually let the children go ahead, not letting them out of their sight. Suddenly, from out of some corner, a dog runs out and jumps at the children. What do they do? They rush right over to their parents, crying ‘Papa! Mama!’ With childish simplicity and pure faith, they expect their parents to help them. The same goes for you on the path of your temporal life. If our tempter, the devil, even starts laying snares for you, don’t be disturbed, and do not even think of getting through it on your own, but with childlike simplicity hurry to the heavenly Father with the cry, ‘Lord, I am Thy creation, have mercy on me!’ Finally, I’ll tell you that, in my opinion, it is hard to protect oneself from worldly temptations while living in big cities. How can a man who is still spiritually weak hold his ground against the temptations of the contemporary world? Take note that high society consists in part of people with other beliefs, and in part of Christians who, although Orthodox, have been so seduced by the customs of the world in their weakness, that they are Orthodox in name only, while in reality they have drifted far from true Orthodoxy. It’s hard to fight the passions, but it is incomparably more difficult to withstand continuous temptations. Finally, luxury, the pursuit of fashion, the goals of this way of life—all of this is so expensive that no financial means would suffice to satisfy all the demands of high society.
~Elder Macarius of Optina
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church