May 10, 2010

Speech of Pyotr Mamonov at the Premier of the Film "Ostrov"

In the summer of 2006, actor Pyotr Mamonov gave a speech in Sochi, on the Black Sea. It was immediately after the premiere of the film Ostrov (The Island). The transcript below shows that he, being a tremendous actor and notable musician, understands very well the spiritual life and shows his role in the film as its lead character was not accidental. His speech was as follows:

How entirely perverse is our time! The critics discussed recently Pavel Lunghin’s film Ostrov and they spoke of the Church as if it is something mythical, as if it is Ilya Muromet [a Russian mythical hero].

How will you live if you do not believe in something? I am surrounded by the bewildered on the right and on the left.

But when you have faith, even though you might be tired, you will give your place on the bus to an old lady. This also is Christianity. You go to wash the dishes without them asking it of you. Is this a Christian act? It is.

Do not insist continually that you are right. Do not yell out “the meal is cold”. Be patient two minutes while they reheat it. Your poor wife can do it quickly for you. She also is tired. Everyone has their speed and their preoccupations. Why do you always insist on “the wife is obligated...”, or “the husband deserves...” etc.

Love is to walk with someone and to support them. If we see someone fallen with their face in the snow [something more common in Russia], we quickly assume that they are drunk. What if they suffered a heart attack? Even if someone is drunk, help lift them up, and provide him protection so he will not freeze. But no, we continue along on our way. We escape even from ourselves. We should live not saying “give me”, but “take from me”. Many do not understand what it is to give their shirt they are wearing. We have become accustomed to living backwards.

Whatever is pleasing to God we reject.

Most importantly, do not hesitate to help the weak. For us, the opposite is true - we "swallow" them. The rich take from the poor even the little they have. He steals as much as possible and hides behind tall fences, in order for others to not take from him.

We have a distorted perception of Christianity. Things are simple however. How much of your blood will you spill for another? It is written: "Inasmuch as you do it for the least of My brethren, you do it for Me" (Matt. 25:40).

To be able to sit at the bedside as long as possible of your mother who suffers from old age and sickness; this is where and how we are to die daily!

Just as the children who were sent to Chechnya. A cretin threw a grenade and a colonel fell on it. He did not hesitate and was killed. He saved eight people. He was a communist. Unbaptized. But he thought as a Christian.

How does it benefit you to go to church and yet for your heart to be empty? Empty of Christian acts? You are able to visit all the Holy Mountains and venerate all the relics - for free. You see a poor wretch and think "he must be one of those swindlers shown on television". Give him 50 kopecks [1/100th of a ruble]. You won't be impoverished. The real mafia are those five or six who manipulate the masses on television.

We should not interrupt others when they speak. The Holy Fathers teach us to stand before others as though we are in front of an old icon. What does it mean not to judge? To not condemn. We are obligated to have opinions. Christ attempted to make some clarifications to the Pharisees, and His anger was righteous. You are right to be angry at yourself since, for example, last night you got drunk. Hate your sin, your passions, and that which tortures you and you will find a remedy. Only if you deeply hate the sin can you taste the flavor of victory.

Even if I am an adult, every day I try to learn.

Every day I go with the bus to Moscow. Two hours without a stop. In front of me once there were seated two youngsters, drunk. They were swearing and talking very badly. I was shivering as I thought I had to endure this for two hours. But then I thought, "Let's see, who are these youngsters? Did they grow up in a village? What did they see there? The father was a drunk, the mother beat them and swore at them. The television was constantly on. This is the new generation. What can you ask of them? Did I personally teach them something? Did I enter the threshold of their home? Did I read to them a book?" As I exited the labyrinth of my thoughts, I confirmed that we had arrived.

Everything is up to us: how we hear, if our eyes are pure, if our ears are closed, if our soul is unlocked, if our conscience is clean. We need to be occupied with these things.

The saints teach us to work out our own salvation, and that is enough for a lifetime.

What is the plan of action? Fix yourself, even by a millimeter. That millimeter will bring in more light. If we remain only with what we find, nothing will change. The evil, of which we have plenty, will only multiply. Let us lessen the evil. This is what we attempted to do with our humble film Ostrov. Perhaps some critics have a point. Perhaps there is too much "chatter" in the motions. I tried to explain them. We were in a strange situation, a weakness of which we tried with all our might to get out of. Like children, we do not try to understand, but we uphold what happens to a person when they begin to believe and try to know God.

Since we forget that sin is the absence of light, we give it form and make it tangible - with our irritations, with our lack of respect for others, and so on.

What is heaven and what is hell? Our Fathers teach us that everywhere there is an ocean of divine love. Whoever does wrong is punished with the whip of love. Think about it - an ocean of divine love where the whole world is loved. This is what we lack in life - love. This then is hell - lack of love. And if darkness is the absence of light, the dark soul, when it is exposed to the light, melts.

The only thing I want to offer is something from my personal experience. I am like everybody else - weak. But I feel a certain need. I feel the Truth is something urgent, like a lump in my throat. One of the names of Christ is Sun of Truth. We flee to this sun with all our meager powers.

I have read somewhere: "We never live the moment. Even when we sit at the table our thoughts fly off, when to the cucumbers, when to the kvas, when to the soup. Try even for one minute of the day, when you have nothing else to do, to gather within yourself and 'live the moment' in exactly that minute. It is very difficult. The result of such effort is the feeling of the presence of God."

Do I feel like an actor? I am Pyotr Nikolaevich Mamonov. I try to do my job the best that I could. Every moment I give all my strength. In five years I will look back and say: "How were you able to act so terribly?" I will have my conscience clean, because in that moment I did what I could.

This is how it was with the film Ostrov. It made an impression. I tried to help myself and those around me. When Christ entered Jerusalem on an ass, they received Him with flowers and greeted Him with cheers. The animal believed all of it was addressed to them. We are also like the ass which carries Christ. I have many talents, but do I have them according to my worth? A generous hand sowed it...and I live with it. I try not to forget it, not to betray it. I don't have orgasms with my "ego". I understand that I, Pyotr Mamonov, did not do anything by my own worth. What do I have to boast about? To whomever God gives, He asks for it back. We must live all the more pure as we can. Everything is so fragile, unprotected.

 Source. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.