Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Salvation and Psychotherapy


The letter of the Law can be deadly

Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain


Source:  “Words (B) of the Elder Paisios the Hagiorite” - pages 78-80


I had asked someone once: « What do you believe you are?  Christ’s warrior or temptation’s warrior? Did you know that temptation also has its warriors? »


A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for all people. Those who inconsiderately toss comments, even if they are true, can cause harm.  I met an author who was extremely pious, but was in the habit of speaking to the (secular) people around him in a blunt manner, which however penetrated so deep that it shook them very severely.  He told me at one time: “During a gathering, I said such and such a thing to a lady.”  But the way that he said it, crushed her. “Look”, I said to him, “you may be tossing golden crowns studded with diamonds to other people, but the way that you throw them can smash heads – not only the sensitive ones, but the sound ones also.”


Let’s not stone our fellow-man in a…. Christian manner.  The person who - in the presence of others – checks someone for having sinned, or speaks in an impassioned manner about a certain person, is not moved by the Spirit of God: he is moved by another spirit.


The way of the Church is LOVE; it differs from the way of the legalists.


The Church sees everything with tolerance and seeks to help each person, whatever he may have done, however sinful he may be.

I have observed a peculiar kind of logic in certain pious people.
Their piety is a good thing, and their predisposition for good is also a good thing; however, a certain spiritual discernment and amplitude is required so that their piety is not accompanied by narrow-mindedness or strong-headedness (strong, as in “unturning). The whole basis is for someone to be in a spiritual state, so that he may have that spiritual discernment, because otherwise he will forever remain attached to the “letter of the Law”, and the letter of the Law can be “deadly”.  


The one who possesses humility will never act like a teacher; he will listen, and whenever his opinion is requested, he will respond humbly. In other words, he will reply like a student Whoever believes that he is capable of correcting others is filled with egotism.

Geron, when someone begins to do something with a good intention and eventually reaches an extreme point, does this mean that he lacks discernment?

It is a latent egotism that is hidden beneath this action and he is unaware of it, because he does not know himself that well, which is why he goes to extremes.  Quite often, people begin with good intentions, but look where they may find themselves!  This was the case with the icon-worshippers” and the “icon-combatters” in the past: both cases were extremes!  The former had reached the point of scraping icons of Christ and placing the scrapings into the Holy Chalice in order to “improve” Holy Communion; the latter, on the other hand, burnt and totally discarded all icons…..  That is why the Church was obliged to place the icons in higher places, out of reach, and, when the dispute was over, lowered them so that we can venerate them and thus confer the appropriate honor to the persons portrayed therein….


Translation by A. N.

Greek text

Article published in English on: 16-6-2007.

Last update: 16-6-2007.