The Folly of Pride

“It is not necessary to fear weakness, for the Lord came down from Heaven for the weak. If a man recognizes his weakness and repents, the Lord in his mercy will not remember his weaknesses and sins.

The most necessary things to fear are devilish pride, vainglory, hostility, and condemnation, but weaknesses serve to humble our imagined piety. Do not be surprised that good people who are close to the Church and are deep believers are always heaping abuse when they are wounded. These people are superficial, they have no understanding of the one thing needful, and so outward piety does them no good. But it is necessary to pray for N and have sympathy for her heavy cross. Recently a monk said to me: ‘I am tired of living; if only I would die! I would like to be turned into nothingness.’ But I kept silent; I know that he will not accept  my advice. You see, all monks are well read and each understands theology and the teaching of the Holy Fathers in his own way, rightly or wrongly, and they hold to their convictions. For such people, advice from the outside is inappropriate; they themselves are keen to teach others.

Oh, how well the holy Abba Dorotheos expressed it: ‘Each is careless and does not keep a single commandment, yet he holds his neighbor accountable for the commandments’. How many examples of this one sees in the course of a day! Of course I do not pay attention to them, for this is an ordinary phenomenon. If we observe ourselves we see utter chaos in our heart, and phenomena like this do not touch our heart.”

(Father John, Christ is in Our Midst: Letters from a Russian Monk, pp 72-73)