3 Questions and 3 Answers with an Orthodox Priest: How Can We Help Our Neighbor?

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St. Elisabeth Convent answers various questions of the parishioners.

How can I help my neighbor?

Desire is the beginning of any change. The most horrible thing is when we begin to justify our sin. When we look around and say, “Well, it seems I am not so lazy. There are many people worse than me”. This is why the fact you blame yourself and see your problem and spiritual disease is half the battle.

Now you have to compel yourself a bit. Do not start any big deal, but start small instead and try to bring to a conclusion what you do. We need certain rules in prayer and spiritual life, which we will follow regularly. In housework, it can be cleaning, for example. With time, you will begin to overcome the feeling of exhaustion, laziness, lack of focus and dispersion of your desires, thoughts and feelings. I think you should find a business which you will like and to which you will devote all your time and effort. Then you should learn it and work a lot because we all are called upon to serve God and our neighbor. Of course, lazy people do not inherit the Kingdom of God. They will just oversleep It. So, go to a church, partake of the Holy Communion and confess your laziness, feeling sorry for yourself and grumble which comes when we say, “It is so difficult, it is far beyond my strength, I am so weak and poor!..” This all is nonsense one can believe in to justify his sins. So go ahead.

What should I do if I have cheated on my wife?

If you have fallen down, you must stand up.

You need to understand the reason why that sin occured. That was not a chance. Perhaps, you have allowed certain thoughts or dreams. Maybe you have not appreciated what you had or just have used to what you have; you have not been sober and attentive. Therefore, the enemy used your condition against you. What can I say you now? You should go to confession and repent your sin. You should do it not only with words: knowing your guilt, try to serve your wife and your family and prove yourself. You should redeem yourself with your life and attitude towards your family.

Perhaps, your wife also has certain infirmities and character weaknesses and you should cover them with your love too. Of course, you must restrain yourself in future. Do not fantasize and do not free your imagination. It can show you any pictures, but these will be the work of the devil. May the Lord prevent you from committing this sin in future, and may the Lord help you to bear the burdens of your close ones and thank God for there is the One Who forgives all our sins and gives us strength to fight with our “old self”.

Should I make my son attend the church?

Of course, it is difficult to make a 17-year-old person - most likely, the result will be the opposite. What can you do now? You can be very attentive to your son, communicate with him more, learn about his interests, help him to understand this world so that he can find right guide for his future life and, of course, you can pray for him. If it is possible, persuade him that he should come to church sometimes. Perhaps, he will meet a priest whom he can trust and with whom he will manage to establish spiritual connection. It would be good if he partakes of the Holy Communion. Of course, not always it can happen at once. But you should set a goal for yourself and go calm and steadily towards it. The upbringing is ongoing. If we can make a little child to do what we say, then in this case, you can only persuade him, patiently accept the infirmity of your son and hope for God’s love, which heals and purifies our sinful hearts. May the Lord help you.

December 6, 2017
St. Elisabeth Convent