Venerable Paisios of the Holy Mountain on Self-perfection

 Elder Paisios used to say:

“Purifying one’s soul is not easy. It cannot be done automatically, at the push of a button. Passion cannot be cut off in one fell swoop, just as it is impossible to saw through a tree trunk with one swing of a saw. The saw moves back and forth for a long time until it cuts the entire trunk. Yet, the work does not end there: much more effort is needed to turn a sawn log into furniture. First, you have to hew it and mill it down to boards. Then, a carpenter gradually turns these boards into furniture.”

“Geronda, I keep telling myself that this work is necessary, but what if it just doesn’t go in?”

“If it doesn’t go in, then you will remain a snag in the wood and end up being thrown into the fire.”


“Even removing a splinter from a finger causes pain. How much more painful is it for a person who is uprooting some passion from himself! Besides, keep in mind that as soon as a person begins to cut off one of his passions, the devil immediately tries to interfere with him, causing this person to feel pain and constraint in the same way as a person possessed by an unclean spirit feels when exorcism prayers are read over him. Indeed, at this moment a struggle is being fought: a man fights with the devil and eventually becomes freed from him.”


“Wishing to improve yourself, always ‘allow God to go ahead of you’. Do not simply promise that you will improve, but say this: ‘By the power of God I will try to correct myself.’ If you believe and say so, then God will help you. You have the desire to improve, which means that you are able to accept His help.

When you ask God for help, He looks down on you with His merciful eye. If you also try to do the small things that you can by yourself, then you are slowly moving forward.

Any adult, seeing a small child trying to move a large stone with his thin hands, will run up and help him, trying to relieve him of the overwhelming tension. In a similar way, God, seeing your own little effort, will help you win”

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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