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Every precaution is taken so as not to lose the ethos of humility. This is the great culture of the Orthodox Church, and we must not lose it! Fr. Zacharias Zacharou

“For great is the power of God; by the humble, He is glorified” says the wise Sirach. (The Book of Ecclesiasticus – Sirach 3:19), David also speaks about God saying, “He guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9).

One day when Abba Tithoes was sitting down, a brother happened to be beside him. Not realizing this, he began to groan, without thinking that the brother was beside him for he was in ecstasy. Afterwards he made a prostration before him and said to him, ‘Forgive me, brother; I have not yet become a monk, since I groaned in front of you.’

Abba Daniel said, When on occasion Abba Arsenius came to the church, he sat behind the pillar, so no one would see his face, nor would he face another.

Fr. Zacharias Zacharou

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_σιωπη-serafim_10 When we are alone in our rooms, we pray in ways in which we cannot pray in church, in front of others…

Many times, when you are in your room, and God gives a particular grace and inspiration, you can kneel down, you can knock your head on the floor, you can beat your chest, you can do whatever you like, but when you are in the church, you do not usurp the space of your fellows. What a great culture! I remember a story from the Desert Fathers. A great old man of the desert of Egypt entered the church and, thinking that he was alone, he let a big sigh come out of him unrestrained. Suddenly he heard some movement in a corner and realised that there was a novice hidden in the church, praying. He went and prostrated to him and said to him, ‘Forgive me brother, for I have not yet made a beginning.’ [2]

Many of the Desert Fathers had this culture of hiding their charisms. One great ascetic received three monks in his cell. He wanted to observe their practice, so he pretended to be asleep. The three monks, thinking that their host was sleeping, encouraged each other, and then started praying. He saw the prayer of two of them coming out like a flame, while the third one prayed with difficulty. But they had waited for their host to fall asleep and they had themselves pretended to be asleep, so that everything could be done in secret, without losing the reward of our Father Who sees in secret and rewards openly. Every precaution is taken so as not to lose the ethos of humility. This is the great culture of the Orthodox Church, and we must not lose it!

2. Abba Tithoes in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, op. cit., p. 198; see also, ibid., John the Dwarf, p. 77.

from The Hidden Man of the Heart (1 Peter 3:4): The Cultivation of the Heart in Orthodox Christian Anthropology, By Archimandrite Zacharias, Mount Thabor Publishing 2008.


άγγελος_παιδί_14 - 15856896748 The monastic life in regard to deeds, words, thoughts and movements must be lived with heartfelt conviction. Otherwise it will not be monastic life, let alone angelic life.

God is manifested not in labours but in simplicity and humility. And if the power of the Lord is made perfect in weakness, the Lord will certainly not reject a humble worker.

 As those whose sense of smell is healthy can tell who has hidden perfumes, so the pure soul can recognize in others both the fragrance which he himself has obtained from God and the stench from which he has been freed, though this is imperceptible to others.

The eyes of our body are a light for all the bodily members; and the discernment of the divine virtues is a light for the mind. (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus, Step,Translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) 

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