Elder Petroniu Tanase, former abbot of Prodromu Romanian Monastery from Mount Athos has followed sleep in the Lord, Tuesday, February 22.
May his memory be eternal!
On watching over the five senses
(With Elder Petroniu)
When man withdraws from the world escapes the temptation of sinful words and worldly images. By living in the world, man unwittingly hears and sees things that dirty his soul through his senses. And all these impressions and things of the world that enter his soul carry with them, a psychological and spiritual load. They awake memories you no longer want to remember, create undue spiritual tensions and leave fingerprints – as one may say – or dirty marks in the spiritual life of man. A man living in the world assimilates – even if it’s only in part, some of the sins of the world. As the old saying states that “man is what he eats”, we can also say that man is what he lives in the city, in his village or in his house. And as his body physiological composition is dependent of the materials contained in food that contribute to his good health, so the spiritual state of man becomes dependent on all these images and thoughts that penetrate through his five senses.
St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain has written a special work on this subject, “Guarding the five senses.”
Man must guard his senses as he would his gateways where friends but especially enemies could enter. Through these windows, dark impressions can penetrate into his soul.
These fingerprints can gradually shape the whole structure of man. During our lifetime, many impressions and deeds are recorded in one’ soul like in a book. … And these are the “books” that will be open at the Dreadful (Last) Judgment.
Man, until the end his life, is in a permanent transformation through what he hears, what he sees and what he lives. He is like a sculptor carving the wood, a piece here, a piece there… A chip on this side, a splinter on the other side and, little by little, the figure/sculpture appears. At the end of his life, man appears in his final form, modeled by everything he hears and does. And this transformation is noticed sometimes on his face. A wicket or a drunken man who lived a sinful life will show this. His figure acquires a certain appearance, connected to the sins he committed. And we elders can sense this.
But these evil fingerprints do not remain at the level of external appearance as we are accustomed to notice, but they will be engraved in man soul. Then at the Dreadful Judgment, when the books will be opened, that man will appear – though the great mystery of God – modeled by everything he did and thought. The Holy Fathers and especially of St. Niphon of the Danube says that people who have committed grievous sins, and have not change or repent, will remain distorted for eternity – a reflection of their soul, which after death will become a tangible reality. At the Last Judgment the state of man soul, more visible than his body, will portray everything man did. Sinners will have distorted figures and every grimace will reflect the sins they committed. Then – as St. Niphon says – everyone will see the sins we committed in our lifetime for they will be engraved in my personal appearance, they will express like a mirror, the structure of my soul irreparably damaged by sins. All our sins will be expressed and everyone will see our corruption.
And what is it said, in our church services, about the Dreadful Judgment? “Oh, who can suffer this scenery?” If now I’m ashamed to visibly sin against my neighbor, how will I look when everyone will see all the sins I have done?
On the Orthodox Church
1. The Orthodox Church is and must remain holy. There exists not one thing that can be accomplished without the power of the Holy Spirit. Today the spirit of the world penetrates everywhere, even in the life of the Church, in parishes and monasteries. With the help of the spiritual father, man is called to become holy through Christ who died and rose from the dead in order to deify human nature and to lift it up to heaven to the throne of the Holy Trinity.
2. The monastery ought to be far from the spirit of worldliness. According to St. Maximus the Confessor, a monk must constantly renounce the world and he will gain heavenly treasures.
3. Monasticism resembles martyrdom. Most saints mentioned in the Church ‘calendar are martyrs, and are followed by the monastics.
4. The monks have been entrusted with the liturgical treasure of the Church. A monk is called to maintain lit the lamp of liturgical life. First of all, he must attend all the daily liturgical services from his monastery.
5. The abbot has to be the spiritual father of the monastic community.
6. In his ministry, the Bishop is called to show firmness in defending the true faith before the heterodox and to promote the purity of life. The lives of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great ought to be eloquent examples to every bishop. The clergy and the faithful’ confidence in their hierarch is maintain when he remains steadfast in defending the Christian truth and in preserving the purity of life.
7. Gluttony, immorality and the love of money enslaves our world today.
Today, many sins are enacted by the so-called “human rights”. But according to the Christian teaching, man has only duties: towards God, his neighbor and God’ creation.
(Taken from the site “Friends of Mt. Athos”, translated by blog’author)
More about Elder Petroniu at: