IF we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9.
Monk Moses the Athonite explains below just why it is that constant, heartfelt repentance and confession to God are necessary — and why they should be characterised not by gloom and dullness, but by radiant joy.
“Killing the Passions”
THE address today will be concerned with the issue of the passions. It is an issue which ought to concern us at all times.
We ought to work closely on eradicating or transforming the passions, and on implanting and cultivating virtues in the heart.
This is the chief task in the labour of those who are really spiritual, that life should be filled with true joy and peace.
[The Passions Make Life Dull And Bitter]
The presence of passions moved by the demons makes life difficult, makes it joyless, dull, tedious and boring.
According to the lexicographer Souida, passion leads to corruption. The body suffers and the soul shares its pain.
Passion is the perverse and unnatural movement of the soul, a redundant impulse, which causes grief, fear, desire and perverse pleasure, from which come love of money, drunkenness, debauchery, and the envy and the jealousy that accompany them, bringing confusion and agitation.
This way makes man think that he is immortal on earth, and lays him in darkness and makes him suffer. The impassioned man undergoes, he suffers, he is in agony, he hurts.
[Passions are cold, unfree, insatiable]
According to Euripides, the passions are wretched and cold.
According to Plato, passion is subservience to pleasure.
The impassioned man is ultimately unfree, he is enslaved to his own passions.
According to modern lexicographers, passion means an unthinking intensity of the emotions, insatiable longing, burning desire, enthusiastic zeal, instinctive impulses, angry hatred, unrestrained and unappeased.
All these mean many things, and call many things to mind, for each one of us.
The passions move within us because they are nestled within us, we have long welcomed them, we converse with them, we nurse them, we love them indeed, we justify them, we see them as less than those of our fellow men around us, and so we postpone systematic expulsion of them.
[Passions deaden us and wear us down]
We must be honest and sincere. Passions are undoubtedly important, internal driving forces. We should say that the cultivation of the passions in our souls means a form of denial of God in our lives, since passions are antithetical, and moved by the demons.
The cultivation of the passions can mean a dangerous complacency, annoying narcissism, and self-deification and making a god of oneself, that enervates the powers of the soul, which is not life-giving and gladdening, but wears out and deadens.
In this situation, man gazes at himself in the mirror, admires himself, flatters himself, and ultimately deceives himself. He justifies and comes to shore up his sin.
[Passions leave us loveless and lonely]
He thus grows isolated, and lives through a great loneliness, and his life is reduced to something loveless and intolerable.
He ends up worshipping his idol self, being gratified by the scent of his lawlessness, and even the state of this impenitence of his ends up, at bottom, gratifying too.
Indeed, the absence of God is attractive to him. He thinks that he moves freely and unchecked, without anyone to mark him.
There is, therefore, a great need for localised and immediate surgical removal of godless passions and the cultivation of godly virtues, so that our life might give real and substantial joy.
Monk Moses the Athonite. This is my unskilled translation, with my added subheadings. For the original, see the Vatopaidi blog.
BLESSED are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and who sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, and whose mouth there is no guile.
Because I kept silence, my bones waxed old, from my crying all the day.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I became thoroughly miserable while a thorn was fastened in me. (Pause.)
I acknowledged my sin, and hid not mine iniquity: I said, I will confess mine iniquity to the Lord against myself; and thou forgavest the ungodliness of my heart.