February 18, 2014

Elder Paisios: "Compassion Harms the Unrepentant"

- Elder, I remember how one time you scolded me a lot.

- If necessary, I will scold you again, that we may go together to Paradise. Now I will take draconian measures!

Look, I have as a rule first to have the other understand that he needs scolding and then after to scold. Do I not do good? Do I, because I scold the other when I see them doing something harmful, become evil?

But what can I do? Should I relax someone in their passion, that I may appear to be supposedly good with him, and then we go together to Hell? My conscience never bothers me when I scold someone or make a remark and he becomes upset, because I do it out of love, for his own good.

I see how he doesn't understand how he hurt Christ with what he did, and this is why I scold him. I feel pain, and melt at the time, but my conscience doesn't bother me that I scolded him. I can go and commune at peace, without having to confess. I feel a certain consolation within me, a certain joy. Because for me consolation and joy is the salvation of the soul.

- Elder, it enters my thoughts that when you are consoling me, it is either because I do not carry the austerity, or because you have told me many times to do something and I didn't do it, and it's as if you allow me.

- Blessed soul, will I play with the salvation of your soul? The young are in training. The old have judgement and keep on track. Feel confident. If I see something crooked, either far away or nearby, I will tell you.

You should have trust and be at peace. Ah, you haven't understood me! Will I easily relax thoughts like this? When I see a soul is sensitive or entirely shocked by the feeling of its error, what can I say? Then I console them, that they may not despair. But when I see the heart is a stone, then I speak strictly to shake it.

If someone goes to a cliff and I say: "Keep going, you are on the right path", do I not do something criminal? The bad thing is that many do not believe, when you tell them not to worry, and they are tormented. If I see something evil, how can I not say it? How can you allow someone to go to Hell? When you have responsibility, then you will also yell, if needed. For me it is better to not say anything, but I can't when I have responsibility.

Then one must be aware of the following: for example, if you do me an evil, I will forgive you. If you then do me another evil, I will again forgive you. I'm fine, but, if you aren't correcting yourself, this is very harmful.

It is one thing if you cannot completely correct yourself. But you should at least try as much as you can to correct yourself. Do not put your thoughts at ease and say: "Since he forgives me, then everything is in good order and I don't need to be burdened, so no need to worry."

Someone can err, but they should repent, weep, ask for forgiveness with contrition, struggle for correction, then there is a recognition of it and the spiritual father must forgive it. But if they do not repent and continue their tactics, then the person responsible for his soul can't laugh. Compassion harms the unrepentant.

Source: From the book Passions and Virtues: Counsels of Elder Paisios the Athonite, vol. 5. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.