In this video, Fr. Theodore talks about humility and the daily Orthodox spiritual life. Archpriest Theodore Gignadze is the rector of the Elevation of the Holy Cross Orthodox Church (JC), Tbilisi, Georgia. This sermon was delivered on March 7th, 2021.
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When a new person comes to the church, they usually come burdened by pain and injustice, and they keep talking about other people’s sins.
And then I tell them, with humor: “You just told me the confessions of your family members and acquaintances. Next time, prepare for your own confession.”
However, when a long-time parishioner comes to confession and they are still focusing on the sins of others – this is a catastrophic situation. And then I feel like there is no point in me talking to them…
What is the point of praying the Jesus prayer if you don’t strive for humility? Because this is the primary fruit of praying the Jesus Prayer.
You may hear people say that Jesus Prayer causes delusion… In general, anything can become a source of delusion, whether it be the Jesus Prayer, the Holy Communion, “Our Father ”, or anything else, if you are expecting to receive something as a result of praying.
You expect to receive certain spiritual gifts, you expect to grow spiritually, you expect God to perform a miracle in your life, you expect your problem to be solved.
Imagine, you pray and your problem is actually solved, you pray again, and another problem is solved. Now someone else has a problem and you tell him, “Do you want me to pray for you?” you pray, and their problem is also solved.
Don’t you think that this would be a source of delusion?! This creates the type of people who sometimes end up forming sects inside the church.
In reality, what is the right motivation behind prayer?
“Lord, have mercy on me”
Thank God the Holy Fathers put these words before us: “Have mercy on me”.
In prayer, the only thing a person should expect is to be granted mercy and forgiveness, so that he may be with the Lord.
Let’s recall the prayer of the thief on the cross, who doesn’t even ask the Lord to let him be with Him. He doesn’t even ask for this. He asks the Lord to remember him. Essentially this is the same thing – if the Lord remembers you, you are with Him. However, the thief doesn’t know this much theology, but regardless, because of his humility, he doesn’t dare to ask to be with the Lord in Paradise. He only says “remember me”. This was the humility that took him out of the abyss and brought him into Paradise.
If humility is not the primary fruit of praying the Jesus prayer, receiving the Holy communion, and living the churchly way of life then no matter how many years you have spent here, you have spent it in vain.
And what is humility?
If we have humility, it won’t let us get irritated at someone even a little, it won’t let us judge or insult anyone, or condemn them within our hearts.
Humility does not allow for this possibility. We keep doing this all the time, which means that we don’t have humility. And since we don’t have humility, our prayer, our communion, and our life in the church do not bear fruit. What should we do?! We must wake up! The Last Judgment will come for us too…
And it is so strange, here in this world, we differ from one another in many ways, there are a thousand different types of people, however, at the terrible Judgement, there will only be two groups: the goats and the sheep.
And having the attitude of, “Oh, I’m not perfect but I’m not that bad of a person” will not save us!