G. Meopoulou: Mother, let me say something that preoccupies me. You tell us: "This is Christ... Follow Him... Love Him... Accept Him in your life..." However, others have taken from Christ whatever they want... whatever they can... while they do not want to take anything essential. Some speak of Ritualism or accuse the Clergy...
Gerondissa Gavrilia: Ah! Those thinking like that are wrong! This is only an excuse. They want to find fault in the other one, while actually they themselves are to blame.
You think so?
Absolutely! Yes! Because we have the Holy Scriptures, the Gospels which speak to us. The more you read it, the more you understand, the more you advance, the more His Mysteries are revealed to you and you become a person of God. People who find false reasons against the Church and the Clergy, are people who refuse to admit that there are also saintly men among this Clergy and see only those who are not saintly. In the Church of God is the Holy Spirit, Who comes and enlightens us during the Divine Liturgy. If we stay on, after the congregation has left, and remain seated in a corner with our eyes closed, we shall "see" God with the eyes of our soul. We shall understand what the Angels are. We shall comprehend the meaning of the prayer: "Encompass us with your Holy Angels, so that guided and guarded by their Host, we may attain the Unity of the Faith" - instead of doubting one another - "and the comprehension of Your ineffable glory...." We cannot see the ineffable glory of God with these earthly eyes, but we can behold it when the Holy Spirit fills our mind and soul, our entire being. Then we can understand what is said in the Holy Bible: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind." That is: Totally. Our entire being loves Him. And then, what happens? Automatically you "love your neighbor as yourself". You cannot distinguish yourself from the others. Quite often they ask me: "Why do you associate with Hindus, Muslims, Jews? With persons of other religions?"
Because you have love in your heart. That's why!
Because "God is love". How can you be a Christian unless you love non-Christians too? If you love only Christians, well... "even the sinners do as much"!
Still, every now and then, articles against the Church are published in the newspapers...
Why does that surprise you? Poor reporters... they can only see what is bad, they cannot see what is good. They don't write about all these persons who serve in so many churches, who hear confessions, who organize works of love... They don't mention these. They search for a fault, to project it, to generalize it, to say that all Church people are like that. We see it. We saw it in the Parable of the Pharisee last Sunday. He began by saying: "I thank Thee, O God" - which is very good and which we should all be saying from morning till night. And then, suddenly, he turned and said "that I am not like that one who is so and so..." Yet, all those who judge others, wouldn't they be wise to begin with themselves? If they could discover what is inside them, they would realize that they are a hundred times worse than those they criticize. For this is what is wrong. People are always ready to criticize others.
From The Ascetic of Love, pp. 173-174.