We are preparing for Pascha. Now it is the week of the prodigal son, who left his father but then came back, when he experienced what its like to eat what pigs eat, and understood that what he had in his father’s house and then lost, and is nonrenewable in this world. During the Great Lent, each event in the Church makes us focus on our spiritual life. The week of the prodigal son is our coming back to our Heavenly Father, our understanding of how we should cherish what we have.
There is a church on the territory of our rehabilitation center. I asked our icon-painters to paint there a mural, depicting the “Return of the Prodigal Son”. All inhabitants of the rehabilitation center are the prodigal children, who have spent their lives drinking and robbing. Many of them served for many years in prisons, and now they have nothing. It is obvious, that they are prodigal. And who are we then? Are we not prodigal? It is interesting, that the most correct way to estimate the level of our spiritual life is the following: the more a person considers himself to be worse than others, the closeer he is to God. And vice versa: the more arrogant he is, the more he thinks that he knows everything already and can teach other people, then the farther he is from God.
This is why I can say that the best moments of our life are these, when we feel guilty before God and our neighbor. At such moments some level of repentance awakes in us. When our concience bothers us and when we suffer from what we have done, it is the best condition for us. Unfortunately, it happens quite rarely. But if we say to ourselves that we will fast, pray, make one hundred bows in the morning and in the evening, then what we will turn into by the end of the lent? An arrogant monster, who looks at other people and judges them: “Why do they gorge?! Why do they live like this?! Those infidels!” Such person is not a Christian any more, for there no Christ in this person. There is no Christ in a man who judges, who boasts and considers himself to be better than others and says, that he is spiritual.
Christ came to serve people, to wash their feet. Our way to Christ lies not through bumptiousness like, “I have visited this monastery and this elder, I have read everything, I know everything…” Instead we shold say: “Lord, I am getting worse and worse… What should I do? I feel guilty before people, because I live not like I should live. I has no idea that I am so sinful”. Nothing makes us closer to God like this grief does.
Our way is not a podium, on which we stand so that others could look at us. Our way is a humble one. We should see our impurity. We should hope in God’s love and our salvation, but not despair.
St. Elisabeth Convent
February 13, 2017
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