We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
Letters and Papers from Prison
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with You. Created things kept me from You; yet if they had not been in You they would have not been at all. You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness. You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for You. I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.”
— St. Augustine, The Confessions
“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”
– John Steinbeck
We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects…Only with the passage of time and with fervor will they be conquered. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope.
~ St. Nectarios of Aegina
There are many applications of this rich quote from Saint Nectarios. Though it’s easy to focus on the positive and sanguine final point: don’t ever give up hope (which is true indeed), it cannot be forgotten that the prerequisite line that represents the responsibility of each of us attempting to conquer sin, the phrase: “with fervor.”
Sin will only be conquered with fervor.
For it is all too true that if we do not fight temptation, fight against sin, with fervor, will will be conquered. If we say, ahh fervor is a bit much, I’m casually doing pretty well, we have placed ourself at the precipice and are likely ready to fall. We must always beware. And those times when we feel perhaps like we’re finally getting a good “grip” on this or that sin is probably the time we need to find again that fervor that started us on the course.
Sin is always near. Therefore let us, with fervor, keep ourselves away from it. By God’s grace. Lord hear our prayer.
When a person is standing on the brink of an abyss, it is easy to push him over and make him fall. But when he is far away, he must be dragged to the abyss and in the meantime he can call for help. For this reason it is always best to keep away from places where one can easily fall into sin.
~ Abbot Nikon
Simple advice. Yet profound. It is difficult to find words more true than these of Abbot Nikon. Such wisdom.
In your own personal battle against sinning, remember to stay as far away as possible from those places/states of mind/people/substances/websites/fill in the blank that put you on a precipice to sin.
May God enable us all, dear reader, to live in accordance with this principle.