Orthodox America


The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be pure, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.

(Matt. 6:22-23)

The "eye" Is the mind; the "body" is the structure of the soul. Thus, when your mind is simple, pure, not dirtied, then your soul will be bright and joyful. But when the mind is cunning, dirtied, then the soul is dark-so says Bishop Theophan the Recluse.

But what is a simple mind and a cunning mind? The simple mind is one that accepts the Word of God without calculation and enters the Church without wavering in order to become a son of God. The cunning mind, on the other hand; is the mind that approaches the Word of God with slyness, and enters the Church of Christ not as a disciple but as a critic and judge, not in order to learn and follow after Christ, but in order to debate, to boast, and to mock the Word of God. The cunning mind is the mind that submits even the Word of God to its own reasoning; it does not fall down before Christ with the entreaty: "I believe, O Lord, help my unbelief." For the cunning mind does not seek the increase of the talent of faith which has been given to it, but lives by its own sinful ego.

The man who has a cunning mind is never firm in his thoughts, for he builds his life not on the firm foundation of faith and faith fullness to Christ, but on idle tales of men which are now being abundantly sown in this world by the followers of Satan. The cunning mind is always changeable, for, having no foundation in God as the absolute Authority and Source of light and understanding, he, under the influence of the winds of various philosophies, little groups, and party memberships, swings like a pendulum. In his soul there is a constant confusion, and the man of cunning mind walks in this world groping in obscurity, or else with the tone of a brazen man and demagogue. lie does not know pure joys; his rejoicing is usually fanciful and does not come from the depths. There, in the depths of his being, is chaos and darkness.

The man with a cunning mind is usually stubborn in his slyness. Why is he stubborn? It is true that he often realizes and feels that something is wrong with him, that he is falling into slavery, but all the same he persists in his stubbornness. Why?

First of all, it is because he is possessed by self-love and an extreme degree of vainglory; it is difficult for him "to give up his position," for it seems to him that in doing this he will "lose face." Secondly, some consider that faith deprives a man of freedom, and they have become accustomed to a false freedom of the mind. Thirdly, some have become so attracted by the broad path of passions and self-will, that they fear ever to hear about positive commandments; they flee from the voice of conscience, and without noticing it themselves, they join themselves to senseless cattle.

The cunning mind is the source of divisions in the Church of Christ, the beginning of heresies and schisms. This is why Christ says to us: "Remove the cunning from your souls." The man of a cunning mind cannot be a positive member of a family, he cannot do good with a pure heart, he cannot be a builder of the firm foundation of society and of the life of the people.

"Son, give me thy heart"-the Lord calls to us; that is, give me a heart pure and free from cunning and hypocrisy, so that you might be in this world a fellow-worker with God.


Archpriest Mitrophan Znosko-Borovsky

St. Seraphim Church, Sea Cliff, N. Y.

Bear this in mind: the Christian life 15 an unending spiritual fight. The wily enemy cleverly uses snares and arrows without number. Before some of us he spreads the lure of worldliness, the outer pride of pomp and circumstance, the cruder lusts-the lusts of the flesh.
But those of us who are not attracted by any of this he leads up on to the peaks of subtler prides. Having got us there-to the high country of self-esteem-he causes a dark mist, the mist of the subtlest prides, to enshroud our intellect. Then he leads us, his blinded slaves, away from God, without our even suspecting it.

Mark this too: it is not very hard for the simple sinner to come to hate his foul life and, leaving it, to fling him self on the mercy of God; but it is very hard for the subtler sinner-the self-sufficient one-to let a ray of divine love pierce the leather jacket of his self-righteousness....

Humility is the only weapon that wards off all attacks, but it is difficult to fashion, and the art of using it is often misunderstood, particularly by those who lead an active, worldly life.
Constantly bear in mind that, in the eyes of God, a penitent sinner is preferable to a proud man who has not sinned otherwise than by his pride...
"But," you may well ask, "what means are there of acquiring humility?" Well, we acquire this art through reading the Fathers; pitiless self-examination and self- accusation help too; also, making clear to ourselves how much worse we are than others; and refraining from all condemnation of them while we accept all their condemnation of us, as sent by God to cure our hideous spiritual sores.

Elder Macarius of Optina