Do you know what I like to watch? When I go to church on Sunday morning, I see people on the street (at such a time you do not meet a lot of people) sitting at a bus stop in order to get to church.
We are talking about an early morning, six or seven o’clock. Especially in winter. Despite the cold, they are waiting for the bus.
Another scene also touches me: I see people who go to church and light candles. During “Peace be unto all” blessing from the Royal Doors, I notice an incoming person who has come to pray. And at the end of the service, he comes up to take Antidoron.
Why am I talking about all this? Such sights amaze me. Once I said to a person: “I am very glad that you came to church. I am delighted with your zeal and desire, with this your fight”. Because it is really about effort and fight. You sacrifice when you get up from your favorite bed and go to church. One of my parishioners tells me: “What does surprise you, father? After all, I’m all in sins and I’m not improving myself. You know me”. I answer him: “You know, what you do is your struggle, your fight”. I am talking about this effort: you get up, and though you are tired and want to sleep, you get up and go to church. I went to bed late, but contrary to this I will go to church. It is your business. It is very important and worth it. Whether you become good or you do not, it is God’s. The Lord grants this to you. He will overshadow you with His grace, give you the opportunity to carry your fight, give you strength for meekness and change, free you from tormenting passion, give you even greater love. When? He knows better when. I don’t know when. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in few days or weeks. The Lord knows. But what you do is very good. Your effort and your fight are not in vain. You are taking part in your salvation work. You say: “Lord, I invest something in this my great work called soul salvation. I have nothing special. What can I give you? Just my good desire. It’s small effort”.
The holy martyrs gave their bodies to torment, burning, breaking on the wheel, decapitation, stoning, crucifixion, executions and piercing, dismemberment. They preached Christ that way in those days. Then the Lord let it happen. In the modern era, we are more weakened Christians. The Lord does not ask you to shed blood for Him today, at least now. Maybe something will change later. He doesn’t ask you for such heroism, he expects only this small part, which I see and rejoice at: “You are very good. The Lord will forgive you, therefore I do not scold you for your sins”.
I will explain: I mean I cannot scold you for this. The fact that you sin is humanly explicable. The fact that you do not fight is already a problem. But you try at least and do it always. When temptation comes, work a little, give it a little punch, try to resist it. Do not sin right after sin thought comes. Fight it. You are making an effort, you are failing, then you get nervous and angry. I understand. Because I was fighting before. Do it again, you can do it. Pray to Christ and you will hear: “I forgive you again. I love you and I will improve you. I will forget everything. It’s enough for me to see you are fighting and exhausting yourself. Even though just a little bit. How long can you fight? A little? If you can’t fight even for a short time, what happened to you? Can’t you do anything?”
From Love Forever, a book by Archimandrite Andrew (Konanos)
Translated from Modern Greek by Sergei Rudko
Translated from Russian by The Catalogue of Good Deeds