November 7, 2012

Monk Moses the Athonite: On Evil

By Monk Moses the Athonite

Generally it seems that evil prevails in the world today. Some believe the cause of evil is God. They believe Him to be with human passions - evil, a punisher, an avenger. Why does He allow it? Why does He give it license? Why doesn't He remove it, since it afflicts His creatures so much? As is known, man is completely free to choose evil or good. For the choice of evil, God is not responsible. We cannot blame God for making us perfectly free. God is goodness, and never made anyone evil.

We are called not to do evil, to hate it and to endure it from others. Trials in the life of man do not exist as  a result of an evil God, but as an excellent teacher which tries to assist us in beneficial and corrective ways, even during various misfortunes. Whoever believes the only one responsible for evil is God, is seriously mistaken. The wise Basil the Great divides evil into natural and physical. True evil, he says, is injustice, envy, and the other sinful passions. Evil also is that which troubles us: deceit, illness, the death of loved ones. Those responsible for sin are us and not God. Hardships, sufferings, and the problems of life exist to bring us to our senses, to mature us and help us grow.

Alone, man lives in sin for years and becomes weakened, worn out, has no resistance towards evil nor the energy to do good. However, there is always some margin left for conversion. The evil habit of charming pride does not allow him to be led to non-evil. Evil, according to the Fathers of the Church, does not have substance. Evil is believed to be a deprivation of good. The unnatural life creates various diseases, for which the All-Good God is not to be blamed. Evil came into human life with his distancing from God, the Source of every good. Free-will is God-given and God does not want slaves. God does not love at all the life of suffering, but the freedom of virtue. People choose and prefer for themselves the evils of their life. Demons hate God and remain permanently in their wickedness. They are hostile to people and devise ways to enslave them in their ungodly and dark works. Man is called to be ready for battle against the machinations of demonic evil. For every human fall there is a synergy with demonic wickedness, but man is responsible for himself, allowing himself to drift away.

Sin is a serious evil and virtue is a great good. Christians must fear sin, because it deprives them of peace and true joy. Do not reject trials from God, because they could become the starting point towards our healing, repentance and salvation. An awful death according to Orthodox theology is not a punishment from God, but the distancing of man from God. It is believed that worse than biological death is spiritual death, which comes when the communion between God and man is cut off.

The mindless hatred of some people make them managers of their own sins. Unfortunately, throughout all their lives evil prevails. This does not mean they won. Many entangled in sin are troubled and suffer powerfully until eventually they hate it. Sometimes good even comes from evil. Evil gives anxiety, fear, trepidation. Goodness calms, delights, comforts. A small number often live in the fullness of truth and freedom. Evil destroys, stains, discolors, impoverishes. Goodness resurrects, illumines, enriches and strengthens. Blessed are those who do good.

Source: Περιοδικό «Παρά την Λίμνην», Μηνιαία έκδοση Εκκλησίας Αγίου Δημητρίου Παραλιμνίου, περίοδος γ΄, έτος κβ΄, αρ. 10, Οκτώβριος 2012. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

The Lord's Mercy and Goodness

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Our Lord is mercy and true goodness,
Yet He allows man to suffer for his sin:
Floods, sickness, earthquakes, droughts,
Horror and pains for body and soul.
He who does not see the Father when He offers gifts
Will see Him at the Judgment as the Righteous Judge.
The awesome Judge has many servants,
And employs them all for man's salvation-
The earth's thorns; serpents and beasts;
And floods, lightning, thunder from the sky;
And evil winds of illness; the sun, heat and darkness;
And the field, which gives either wheat or empty straw.
As many gifts await the faithful,
So many scourges are woven for the evil.
Adam's fields are watered with gentle dew,
But Sodom and Gomorrah are mowed with a flaming sword.
Above other created things, God loves man:
Therefore He forgives much; therefore He waits long.
But, when God's patience exceeds all bounds,
Then fire, not dew, does the work.