Spiritual Father’s Advice: “How Do I Deal with Non-Christian Colleagues?”

Are Affirmations Sinful?

Q: Dear Father Andrew, I’d like to know if affirmations (i.e., short statements containing a verbal formula, which is repeated multiple times to plant the required image or attitude into one’s subconscious, thus improving one’s mental and emotional condition) and positive thinking are sinful or not? Helena.

Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok

A: I believe that an Orthodox person should use the practices established by the Holy Fathers. We don’t find anything like the methods you’ve described in the writings of the Holy Fathers.

We can inculcate anything we want in ourselves. For instance, we can repeat to ourselves that we are holy and that we love everyone. Isn’t it better if we simply admit the truth that we aren’t holy and that we don’t love anyone? And then ask the Lord to heal our sick souls.

Perhaps, that psychological method might help a person who lives as he or she pleases. A believer can make use of the enormous wealth of spiritual living collected by thousands of ascetics spanning dozens of generations. All that immense wealth is accumulated in the Church. We can experience live interaction with God. That’s why affirmations are inappropriate.

How Do I Deal with Non-Christian Colleagues?

Q: Father Andrew, your blessing. I’d like to ask you for advice. I’m the only Christian in my office. All my colleagues are non-Christians. Sometimes I feel that they don’t like me because of my faith. How do I deal with them? Veronica.

A: You have to look for the beauty hidden in your colleagues and pray for them. Don’t pitch yourself as a believer against them, the non-believers.

How miserable are those who live without the bedrock, the foundation of faith. Try telling your colleagues about the Church and holidays. If they reply with rude or insulting remarks, don’t be offended: take pity on them because they can’t understand it yet.

If you are in a good mood, if you have good thoughts and wish to support those people, they will feel it and maybe come to church eventually. It isn’t an accident that you found yourself in that environment. There must be a reason for that. Therefore, be courageous and make sure that your interaction with those people is peaceful and friendly and that you always do everything possible to help them.

How Should I Tithe?

Q: Your blessing, Father. I go to church but I don’t belong to any congregation. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to tithe to the Church. I put my money into a donation box. Does charitable support of a disabled person, who is not my relative, count as a tithe, or does the tithe mean exclusively money for the church, while anything else that you donate is not included in the tithe? Please explain how it works. Olga.

A: In fact, God wants our heart, not our money: My son, give me thine heart (Proverbs 23: 26).

We don’t demand tithes like the Evangelicals.

Of course, people who go to church often, usually donate some of their money to the church because they know that churches need repairs, there are new church buildings that need to be built, and there are people who work in the church and who have to be paid. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Parishes are supported by donations. That’s why people who can donate something, do it for God’s sake. It is wonderful. The Lord doesn’t like to be indebted so He pays them back a hundredfold, for sure. There are many rich and godly people who realise it. They donate their money to churches.

In this case, you’re an Orthodox person. You go to church and donate some of your earnings to the church – and that’s fine. You also support the sick – and you do everything for God’s sake. May the Lord help you. For this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

I Can’t Go to Church. How to Get Over It?

Q: Father Andrew, your blessing. I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ but currently, I don’t go to church, I don’t pray in the morning and the evening. I haven’t confessed nor taken communion for a very long time. I commit a lot of sins. My soul yearns for God but in reality, I can’t even go to church. What can I do about it? Ivan.

A: I don’t get it. What do you mean? I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13). You’ve got to break free from the obstacles that hinder you and distract you from the church, i.e., your sins, such as laziness, faintheartedness, or something else. Arrange a date and do whatever it takes to get to church and to take communion and partake of the Eucharist. Once you’ve done that, don’t be neglectful and keep coming to the confession and communion regularly and as frequently as you can. Little by little, it will become the rule of your life. That’s how people grow as Christians.

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence (Matthew 11: 12). Your feet won’t run to the church without your brain telling them to do so. Condoning yourself is bad. When one wants to eat, one goes to a grocery store, whether one likes it or not. You have to go to work, and you go to work because otherwise you’ll be fired and lose your livelihood. And still, we can’t go to church… Don’t our souls demand some food, light, and love, too? Where do we find it? Only God can supply your soul with everything she needs for a normal Christian life.

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