you think that I shall be condemned
alone for my sins? No, but you also will
be condemned with me...for if the
church had taken care of me, I would
not have reached this condition'
the smoke of his cigarette into my face, a man said,
'Perhaps you are astonished of my condition now!' I looked to
his long bright dressed hair, his hollow eyes, yellow teeth, and
his fingers shaking nervously and I felt much compassion upon
him... He is one of those whom the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed
with His blood..
Before I could answer him,
he continued bitterly, 'As you
know I was not like this before... I was strong in spirit, of good
character, attending the church prayers and meetings regularly...
Then I became gradually languid until I stopped attending the
meetings.. But no one from the church came to visit me or tried
to make me return... My absence continued and I became more
languid, my will became more weak and I descended step by
step from my high level... and again no one came to visit me...
At this point the devil visited me... when he came he found my
heart empty, swept and put in order (Matt. 12:44) and my will weakened.. The devil found no Bible beside me, no prayers nor spiritual fathers... Thus I was easy prey and I began to walk in darkness, the lovely darkness which people loved rather than light (John. 3:19), 'Here he shook his head calmly and said, 'Now I buy four cigarette packets every day'..
whooped in astonishment and pain but he continued, 'I go
to the cinema three times a week, and read impolite stories, I
amuse myself with rude songs and make my company with a
group like the devils of hell.. At the beginning of my fall, I
resisted but I failed because my will was weak... But now, I do
not resist at all..' Then he laughed in a sneering way and said, 'I
may rather say that sin now resists me but fails because of the
weakness of its will!'
All this time, while he was talking I was very sad but he looked to me in cruelty and said sharply, 'Do you think that I shall be condemned alone for my sins? No, but you will be condemned with me... for if the church had taken care of me, I would not have reached this condition'.
not important to tell you, my dear reader, the rest of the
story of this youth for it resembles many other stories. But I
want to tell you that I returned that night to my house filled
with severe pain for him and for myself.. I began to ask myself
frankly how many persons like him tumbled as a result of my
neglect and not visiting them or caring for them? I began to
review the names of the persons whom I did not visit for a long
time and I felt great fear and dismay.. I feel very uneasy
concerning them. I asked myself whether being in the ministry
hindered ministry! The words of that youth rang in my ears,
'you will be condemned with me' I remembered also the words of St. James the Apostle, "My brethren, let not many of you
become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter
judgement. For we all stumble in many things" (James 3:1,2).
As this trouble continued
for some time, I asked to be
excused from the ministry but as they refused I prostrated
myself before God and wept bitterly because I recognised how
wretched I was..
I am wretched because I agreed to be a minister and did not say as Jeremiah the Prophet had said, "Ah, Lord God! Behold I cannot speak, for I am a youth" (Jer. 1:6). I am also wretched because 1 thought a lesson in the Sunday Schools was just a lecture which I had to deliver and leave calmly.
My dear readers, may all of you pray for me, and for every teacher in the Sunday-Schools because they also are wretched and needy like me.
Feeling all this pain and complaining of the responsibility of a small class, what would I rather say, my brethren, about the father priests? Are they not far more wretched than me? What can a priest do for five or ten thousand persons in his charge? What answer can he give when God calls him saying, "Give an account of your stewardship" (Luke 16:2).
In the first church of the fathers, the priest was aided by a group of deacons who worked with him, helped him in his ministry and ate like him from the offerings given to the church. But nowadays, a priests works alone. He needs your prayers that God may help him perform his duty.
And you, father priest, what made you seek priest hood?
Did you aspire its superiority or its
responsibilities? Do you not
know father that you are responsible for all your flock, whether
grown-ups or young, men or women, young men or young
women.. You are not responsible only for those who attend the
church but also for those in the places of entertainment and
corruption, for every reckless youth in the roads, for every
drunken in a bar and for every dispute within a family.
Yes father, if you do not
know that you are wretched, you
have to recognise this now... Go into your private room and
weep bitterly... Put the whole matter in God's hands and say to
Him that you are weak and the burden is heavy.. Strive and
keep watch ".. lest, coming suddenly, He find you sleeping"
If this is the case of the
father priest, what can we say
about the father bishops each of whom will be asked by God
about nearly two hundred thousands or more whether priests or
lay-men? Are not they very Wretched indeed? May you pray
for them earnestly that God may help them carry out their
duties?.. As for you father bishop, what thing made you desire
this position? Is it the prestige or the responsibility? Did you
desire the position and the authority, the tittle of "His Grace" or
the membership of the holy synod? Or did you desire to save
Let me ask your grace
further about your responsibility.. If
you compare the condition of your diocese when you first took
it in your charge with its condition now.. is there any
improvement or is it still the same? You have to go into your
cell and weep bitterly, father bishop.. Remember how the holy monks used to escape from this position because of its fearful
responsibility. And when one of them was taken by force and
ordained as bishop he cried out weeping before God and saying,
'O Lord, you know that I left the world and went to the
monastery to seek my own salvation.. But now I return to the
world though I have not attained salvation yet and is required to
save others also.. O Lord, I am not able, You act with Your
power' And God did act...
What about our fathers the
Patriarchs , each one of
whom God will ask about ten million in Egypt and much more
in Ethiopia, Sudan and the Five Western Cities which are
mentioned in the Holy Mass... What is to be said of those and of
their serious responsibilities? Are not they also wretched? My
brethren, you ought to pray for every Patriarch that he may be
able to perform his duties and give a good reply to God when
He asks him about his own soul and the souls of the bishops,
priests, deacons, monks and laymen... and about keeping the
church laws and spreading the Orthodox faith all over the
You also, who may be nominated to the patriarchate someday, you ought to refuse it and escape for your life.
But if you are called by God, remember its responsibilities and go into your cell and weep bitterly before God.
And you, my brothers the readers, do not look to God's ministers and to those who hold any responsibilities just like spectators praising them when they do good and condemning them when they do wrong... You rather pray for them that God's work may succeed through them.
You also, God's minister, be concerned with the responsibility
not with the position... and when you feel the burden heavy for
you, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you"
Close the door and argue with Jesus, in the darkness of the might.
Fill all the night with prayers with wrestling and tears.
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