Sunday, July 20, 2014

An Open Letter from Rodrigue Khoury to the ISIS Caliph

Arabic original here.

An Open Letter to the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the President of the Party of the Levant, the Lawyer Rodrigue Khoury

Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?

This is what our God called out to Paul when he was devoting himself completely to tormenting Christians... And this call ushered in his transformation into a Christian and his guiding many souls to the right path.

O Caliph, so far as I can tell you are striving to build a state that pleases God.

So which does God favor: Stoning an adulteress to death and handing her soul over to Satan or caring for her in mercy and giving her good advice so that she becomes pious and righteous and guides other souls to repentance, thus winning her own soul and the souls of many others?

Which does God favor: Cutting off the hand of a thief or caring for him with reform and forgiveness so that he might become righteous and use that hand of his to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or write a testimony of his being rightly guided and so profit his soul and guide others to repentance?

Which does God favor: Crucifying an "apostate" who has left your religion or leaving him to search with his reason for the true religion?

I bear witness to the truth of my faith that is different for yours. Is this not better than me falsely witnessing to your faith when I do not believe it with true conviction? Would that not be a lie and false witness? Which pleases God more, that I bear false witness and proclaim a lie or that I bear witness to the truth, to the truth of what I believe?

O Caliph,

Put yourself in the place of those who have sinned once, while you are subject to many sins: If you committed adultery. If you stole. If you changed your religion...

Would you ask the judges to stone you or to have mercy on you? [translator's note: the difference between "to stone" and "to have mercy" in Arabic is a single diacritic dot]

If you were a Christian in "the lands governed by Islam", would you accept that they drive you off, slaughter you and deny you the most basic human rights?

And so, who are you to judge by fire? Are you not subject to human nature? Are you not subject to weaknesses?

O Caliph,

I call call upon you to imagine a state ruled by the Law of Christ, a state of peace, a state of love and freedom!

A state where a woman does not commit adultery because she loves her husband, not because she is afraid of being stoned to death.

A state where someone does not steal because of his love for his neighbor, not because he is afraid of having his hand cut off.

A state where someone does not murder because he considers his brother's life to be holy, not because he is afraid of being executed.

A state where believers pray and fast because of their attachment to their God, not because of the policeman's baton.

O Caliph,

I call upon you to fully contemplate the law of mercy, love and freedom established by our God incarnate, Jesus Christ, and to compare it to the laws of the gentiles. I call upon you to judge your state by its standards and to embrace Christianity and in doing so save yourself from torment in this world and in the world to come.

Leave condemning people to God.

Do not say "I am an adulterer", since our God is a God of love who accepts the repentant adulteress just as He accepts the righteous woman.

Do not say "I am a thief", since our God is a merciful God who accepts the reptenant thief just as He accepts the righteous man.

Do not say, "I am a paid traitor", since our God is a kind God who accepts the repentant traitor just as He accepts the honorable.

Do not say, "I am a murderous criminal thug", since our God is a tolerant God who accepts the repentant murderer just as He accepts the upright.

Do not say, "I am an Arab" or "a Turk" or... since for our God there is neither Arab nor non-Arab. He accepts all races in order to give them the light of His peace and  to poor out His love upon the entire world.

Do not say "I am a corrupt sinner", since our God is a long-suffering God. He has accepted the repentance of many and returned them to the straight path, making them great saints and preparing them for a great mission in His plan of salvation.

O Caliph,

Who knows? The Lord may have chosen you for such a mission. There is still enough time before you to repent and to know the true light, the light of our incarnate God Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified, the light of the most holy and eternal Trinity.

My love for you drives me to advise you before it's too late. The voice of the conscience cries out to you at all times: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?

Met Georges Khodr on the Prophet Elijah

Arabic original here.

The Prophet

What is the prophet, if he prophesies? How is he in his state of prophesying? He is a man only under God's authority. He does not listen to anyone else. No passion speaks in him. He speaks as though God is speaking because he is God's instrument and God's looking over the universe.

"The word of God was on the tongue of Elijah," as the Bible says. He withheld rain and the heavens were commanded not to rain. The word of God was on his mouth and he commanded the heavens to rain, and they did. The word of God was on his mouth at Zarephath when he visited the widow and blew the word of God into the dead by, and the dead boy rose.

Elijah was alone with the word and he came into conflict with the great and small of the people. He came into conflict with all of God's enemies. He slaughtered the priests of Baal and of Ashteroth, but not because God desires slaughter. In fact He chastised him for this, as we shall see. However, the meaning of the words is that there is no place for false gods if the true God appears. There is no place for worshiping power, for worshiping the body if the true God looks down. However, there must be fiery zeal to the point where false gods and false thoughts are exterminated.

Like every ruler, the king was troubled by him, because rulers are rarely just. They are men of lust and passion and they have followers. Prophets, however, do not have lust or passion and they do not have followers. Thus, when King Ahab came and said to Elijah, "You are troubling Israel," Elijah replied, "Rather, you and your father, you and your house are troubling Israel" because the one who errs in sin troubles the people. Sin alone disturbs people.

When the seductive pagan queen Jezebel wanted the luxury coming from adulterous Phoenicia, when she wanted to suppress the prophet and persecute him, she did an injustice to the entire people. She expelled a poor man named Naboth from his vineyard and sent her husband the king to register the vineyard in her name. She gave every appearance of legitimacy to the crime and so the prophet cried out against her. Is there any supporter of the poor besides prophets and those who resemble prophets?

The queen drove our prophet out into the desert. She pushed him out of the country to die choking on the sands of Sinai. But he ate what was given to him by the angel of the Lord, "and walked by the power of that food for forty days and forty nights." He reached Horeb, where God had appeared to Moses for the first time, and took shelter in a cave. Then he went out and stood on the mountain before the Lord. There was an earthquake and God was not in the earthquake. There was a raging wind and God was not in the raging wind. That is, God does not appear in power or in violence and you were wrong, Elijah, when you slaughtered the priests of Baal. You were not wrong in your zeal but in the way in which you embodied that zeal. We people of God do not slaughter. We get slaughtered. There was a gentle wind and Elijah fell on his knees because God was in the gentle breeze.

After this, there did not remain any place on earth for Elijah, so God seized him in a storm and placed him in a chariot of fire with horses of fire. This is not because a person can sit on fire or because he can be led by fire, but because God Himself is fire. Is not God light and fire at once? Is not God the flame and the light of hearts? God carried Elijah on His shoulders and brought him to heaven. Elijah is alive in his love, in his zeal. "I have been zealous for the Lord of Hosts." Why was he zealous for the Lord of Heaven and Earth? Because he is the one who said, "Living is the Lord before whom I stand." Living is the Lord and the people are dead. The kings are dead and the oppressors are dead. God alone is living and he who knows this and stands before the living God cannot live with the dead.

God remains with those who love Him. Their hearts have been seized with love for the one who sits above, above the people of lust, tyranny and violence because He is the God of heaven, the God of peace, the God of hearts that love peace. For this reason we honor Elijah who was with the Lord on the mountain of the Transfiguration. He was transfigured in zeal and in turn has remained for people and for history flame and light.

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Mercy

Arabic original here

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."

How many times have we said "Lord have mercy" in its various forms? When we say these words consciously, they presume that we admit our sins and repent of them.

This mercy that is asked for from God transcends justice. It is a call to imitate God. Mercy is one of God's attributes: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).

Mercy presumes an open heart, love as broad as a womb ['mercy' and 'womb' are almost homophones in Arabic]. It presumes that we embrace others just as God embraces us, and also much patience. The Greek term "makrothimia", longsuffering,  literally means being slow to anger. Open your heart wide until it resembles God's heart. He is the compassionate Father. He is "longsuffering, plenteous in mercy, most compassionate, who loves the righteous and has mercy on sinners, who calls all to salvation with the promise of good things to come."

Mercy does not do away with strictness when it is necessary. Sometimes there must be discipline and rupture on the path to healing. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed." (Hebrews 12:11-13).

Practice forgiveness. It is the medicine that cures hatred. Forgive your brother who sins against you because he is of Christ's flesh and blood. If our insistent request of  "Lord have mercy" forty times, for example, comes from the cry of the heart, it will attract God's attention. The blind man of Jericho cried out, "Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy!" and others rebuked him to keep quiet. But he cried out more and more, "Son of David, have mercy!" And Jesus finally responded, "See, your faith has healed you." (Cf. Luke 18: 38 and 42)

For this reason, we say many times in our liturgical prayer "Have mercy on us O God according to the greatness of Your mercy we ask You, hear us and have mercy!" All of this, ff we truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ our God is the Savior, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh: The God who is Silent about Evil

Arabic original here.

The God who is Silent about Evil

"Where is God?" wonder most people. Where is He, when it comes to the tragedies, wars and massacres that are happening in our countries and throughout the world? Where is He, when it comes to children being killed, orphaned, left homeless and starved? Why is He silent about evil, especially about the evil that is committed in His name? Why does He not eliminate people before their crimes get worse? Does His silence mean that he is pleased with what is happening?

When God created man, He created him "in His image and likeness." The Christian tradition is unanimous in saying that the first part of this phrase, "in His image" indicates that God created man free and rational, while "and His likeness" is a call for man to realize the image by practicing the divine virtues through his own free will.

In this context, Saint John of Damascus, Mansour ibn Sarjoun (d. ca. 750) says, "Virtue is sown in our nature by God who is the beginning of every good thing. Therefore, if we in what is according to our nature, we will be in virtue and if we deviate from what is according to our nature-- that is, from virtue-- we are reduced to what is contrary to our nature and come to be in vice." Origen of Alexandria (d. 235) regards man as having taken on the  majesty and splendor  of the "image" in creation but he only receives the perfection of the "likeness" through struggle and and perseverance. Man was given the possibility of perfection at the beginning and he must attain it by performing works of virtue and righteousness.

If God created man good, then were does evil come from? The Damascene responds in the following way: "Evil is the loss of the good and the deviation from what is required by nature toward what is contrary to nature. That which is required by nature is not evil because everything that God does is very good. Anyone who departs of his own will from that which is required by nature and enters into that which is contrary to nature, arrives at evil ... Evil is not a substance and not one of the attributes of substance. It is merely an accident. That is, a transformation from what is required by nature to what is contrary to nature."

So why does God not prevent evil by eliminating evil people or by not allowing them to be born in the first place? The Damascene responds, "If God prevented those who, because of His goodness, will exist from coming into existence because they will become evil of their own will, then evil would be victorious over God's goodness." God desires that man remain good, just as He created him, and that he defeat evil by not being led off of his own free will to break from the highest Good, that is from God.

Between man being good without free will or being good by distinguishing by his own free will, which might lead him to do evil, God chose to create man free. Without despairing, God continues to wait for man to use his freedom to do good. He knows all things before they happen. Had He wanted to prevent evil people from existing on the face of the earth, then he would have prevented every one of us from coming into existence, from Adam to those who are walking the earth today.

And consequently, He would not have created man in the first place.

The Damascene likens man in his relationship with God to one "who receives a wealth and authority from his king and then declares his own authority to be independent of his benefactor. When his master seizes him, he will give him the punishment he deserves if he persists in his transgression and rebellion until the end."

God still wills good for man and that he repent, so that evil may be  eliminated in every place and time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Arab Orthodox Hold Another Round of Protests in Jordan

As part of a series of demonstrations directed at the Orthodox Church in Palestine and Jordan, the Arab Orthodox youth held a sit-in in front of the bishopric in Amman's Sweifieh neighborhood. In attendance were groups of men, women and youth from the Arab Orthodox flock who protested what they termed the "foreign colonialism" that has been suffocating the Orthodox Church for centuries. This colonialism, currently represented by Patriarch Theophilos and his synod, has been bleeding the Orthodox Church and her flock dry and draining her of her talents and capabilities. It continues to bleed her of what remains of her flock in Palestine and Jordan and is causing her to lose her spiritual and national identity through anti-ecclesial and uncanonical policies. The demonstration began with a prayer read by the priests present for the souls of those killed in Gaza and Occupied Palestine and for the elimination of injustice and spread of peace throughout the world.

Particularly noteworthy at this demonstration and without precedent in Jordanian society is the participation of several Orthodox clergymen in solidarity with the sons and daughers of Orthodoxy. One of the most prominent of these clergymen was Archimandrite Athanasius Kakish, who sent a letter a few weeks ago to His Majesty King Abdallah II concerning the Orthodox situation.

The protesters reiterated their deep dissatisfaction with Metropolitan Venediktos, whom they consider to be a superficial bishop without a position of his own, only representing the policies of the current patriarch Theophilos. They denounced any infringement upon any patriotic Arab clergyman and declared that any decision against them will be considered completely unacceptable. In addition to this, the Arab Orthodox youth exposed all the malicious policies against Metropolitan Atallah Hanna, Archimdandrite Christophoros Atallah and Archimandrite Meletios Bassal, including the arbitrary transfers, discontinuation of salaries and exile practiced by Theophilos and his synod while at the very same time the Patriarchate provides cover for Father Gabriel Naddaf, who encourages Arab Christians to enlist in the army of the Israeli occupation and describes legitimate Palestinian resistance as "terrorism".

Voices were raised declaring that Theophilos' policies have caused him to lose his legitimacy and canonicity as patriarch and have delegitimized his synod. They reiterated that the Monastery of the Virgin in Dibbeen and Archimandrite Christophoros are a red line and that there is no authority that can infringe upon the monastery or remove Father Christopher from his monastery. The speeches that were made affirmed the Christians' Arab identity, that they are fundamental and authentic part of this nation, and that the current policies of the Orthodox spiritual leadership are contributing to emptying the Arab Middle East of its Christians. Demands were made for His Majesty King Abdallah II to intervene personally in this issue, which is being deliberately distorted. Finally, exclamations were made for the Church and her unity and for the long life of His Majesty the king.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fr Touma Bitar on the Situation in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Arabic original here.

"They cannot ask us to be their followers merely because they have inherited apostolic succession. We must follow the good and distance ourselves from evil successors of the apostles." - St Irenaeus of Lyon

The See of Jerusalem
Submissiveness that Kills

"Do you love me, Peter? Feed my lambs..." The Lord said this to Peter three times. The idea is that Peter is disavowing his denial of the Lord three times though his love for Him. That is, through feeding His sheep. He wept bitterly, with regret and repentance, and God accepts those who repent. But not feeding His lambs is a denial of Him and ungratefulness towards Him that fall under woe. Woe to anyone who causes one of these little ones to stumble! Woe to those who feed themselves but do not feed the sheep!

The lambs of the See of Jerusalem do not have anyone who feeds them! Why? Because they are Arab! Any revival there to rise beyond the level of spiritual impoverishment and ignorance is forbidden!

They are only allowed to move between misery and ignorance, between forced spiritual illiteracy and rituals. This is more reassuring! They have no share in anything more than a few crumbs! Forever treated with suspicion! Neglected and marginalized! Accused of revolting against the See of Jerusalem! Between the hammer of military occupation and the anvil of ecclesiastical occupation, a process is underway to marginalize them, to incapacitate them, to stifle their impetus, to enslave them in their own church, to exclude them from every meaningful decision, whether in their own land or elsewhere!

One of the faithful from Amman came to do a retreat with us. He relayed to us news of the latest chapter in the tragedy of his oppressed church and Christ's rejected flock there. Some of the Arab clergy, out of zeal for the House of god, are working for revival among the Arab Orthodox! This is something natural! In northern Jordan, some renewal has appeared, and people are rejoicing at the return of life of the Church! There is a monastery in Dibbeen named after the Life-Giving Spring. It is about 12 kilometers to the north of Amman. It is as though it was born via caesarian section-- prehaps because it is for women. The people are thirsting for the spring of the Spirit, starving for the word of life. But as soon as there appeared someone to give the Arab Orthodox streams of the water of eternal life and to break for them the bread of heaven, the instrument of the intruders who hold power over the See of Jerusalem acted in order to put a stop to the risk of revival  that was appearing on the horizon, to cast out those who were bringing it about, and to extinguish the flame of the Spirit there! Those responsible for what is regarded as weaving a "suspicious conspiracy" for revival are being driven out and are being replaced with those who will effectively ensure that the Church will be as dessicated as possible among the Arab Orthodox and that nothing will reach the point of revival.

Demonstrations have been held protesting the behavior of those in charge of the See of Jerusalem in front of various church and civil establishments. But is appears that no one wants to listen!

What fault is it for the Orthodox there that they are Arabs? Is it not the case that in Christ there is neither Arab nor Greek, but rather Christ is all in all? It is natural that there are Arabs, Greeks and Slavs in the Church. A person cannot step out of his own skin. We praise God, each in his own language, land and culture, just those upon whom the Holy Spirit descended did in the Book of Acts. However, for the Church to become a vehicle and a support for nationalism and racism, this is unbelief! This is regressing back to the paganism of the ancient gentiles! Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's! If Christ is not the one who brings us together, then nothing brings us together! If we are not prepared to drive every thought toward obeying Christ, then we have no part in Him! At that point, we set up idols next to Him in our faith! At that point, we have come to resemble the words of the One who said, "These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me." At that point, we kill Christ in ourselves and in others, while claiming that we are offering worship to God!

Unfortunately, those who watch over the See of Jerusalem watch more over dust and stones-- and themselves-- while the people are something closer to slaves to them! They hide behind canons while violating their spirit! They trade in power and money! In what way are they any different from the high priests of Israel who conspired against the Lord and gave Him over to the gentiles to be killed?! Are the lambs of Jerusalem not being given over to be slaughtered with negligence? They aggrandize themselves with their robes, their crosiers their titles and their grandiloquent speeches, while the flock is forced to lap at their feet! They traffick in Christ and His sheep, without any feeling for faith or belief! Perhaps some of them submit to the status quo there, feeling pain for the situation of Arab Orthodox, but they do not lift a finger! The issue is not in their hands. This is what the patriarch and his crowd wants! Do not these words of the Lord apply to them, "My house is called a house of prayer and you have made it into a den of thieves"?!

No, we are not supporting the Arab Orthodox in Jerusalem because they are Arab. Nor are we supporting them because we want to Arabize authority and the Holy Places there! The Lord did not die for the sake of soil and stone but for flesh and blood! They are first and foremost our brothers in faith! "You are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells within you"! Our protest is not over authority that has been robbed from us or over Arab culture that is insulted. It is not over political confiscation, even if we reject injustice! Our protest is churchly: it is over the disregard, indeed the abandonment of care for Christ sheep, the abandonment of preaching the Gospel of Salvation! "Feed my lambs," no matter what the flock's cultural identity might be!

The insensitivity and indifference in the Orthodox world toward what is going on in the See of Jerusalem staggering. No one is taking action to motivate those who are indifferent. It is as though this were something that does not concern us! The simplest of our Holy Fathers' teachings is that right belief, wherever it may be, concerns us and concerns us directly! A bishop, for example, is a bishop of of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in every place, not only in that part that he is bishop over! Naturally, no one should intervene in the manner in which a bishop conducts the affairs of his diocese, so long as those affairs are governed according to right belief and the canons of the Church. However, as soon as a bishop strays from the Orthodox faith and the canons of the Church,  every Orthodox bishop in every place should not only be concerned with the infraction in order to correct it, but it is demanded to do this-- and here I stress the word "demanded."

Treating issues in terms of what is regarded as "church politics", as though they are separate from virtue and excellence, is unbelief and treachery! The sees considered to be "Greek" turn a blind eye to the spiritual massacre that is occurring in the See of Jerusalem in order to close ranks amongst themselves, as though they were a worldly political party! They themselves individually know that what is going on in the See of Jerusalem is unacceptable and they will say this in their closed meetings, but they will not admit it openly! In practice, they prefer the bond of their racism to the bond of Christ's Church! What kind of behavior is this? Is it not hypocrisy? Are we entrusted with our nationalism and our racism or are we entrusted with Christ's Church?! The state of insensitivity to this issue is horrible and terrifying! And this is not limited to the Greek sphere. Unfortunately, it goes beyond that to every sphere: Slavic, Antiochian and others! How many of Christ's churches in every place are oppressed on account of the nationalism, racism, politics, tribalism, of groups and leaders within the Church! They are not so much concerned with pastoring the Church as they are with who extends his authority, in the name of Orthodoxy (!), over what and over whom and who makes material and symbolic gains by wielding authority over the Church in this place or that!

The worst examples of exploiting the Church, the pastoral care of the faithful and the preaching of the Gospel in this context is the situation in the diaspora-- and not only the dioceses in North America! We have discarded all ecclesiology so that the so-called "Mother Churches" can keep their hands on the Church there! We use sin as an excuse and we don't even care! They say that they are waiting for the future Orthodox ecumenical council? This will not be able to bring about a solution because it is in an atmosphere of asking who will take control over what, at the expense of the believers. Everyone, unfortunately, treats the diaspora like their milk-cow! Our last concern is the Church! Our concern is with what belongs to us!

For this reason, no good can be hoped to come from any solution, in the foreseeable future, that comes from outside those who are suffering! Our visitor asked me, "What is it possible for us, the Arab Orthodox flock in the See of Jerusalem, to do?" I told him: If you are waiting for a solution to come to you from the outside, then you are mistaken, because nothing is going to come! Those among you who are zealous for Christ in love, righteousness and humility should take their fate and the fate of their church into their own hands! Demand, as you have demanded! Warn, as you have warned! Then, finally, if those in charge of the See of Jerusalem do not pay attention to your demands after one, two, three times, then let them be for you like the pagan and the publican! They are the ones who are fallen and you are the ones who are demanding justice, if you know that you are keeping yourselves loyal to the Lord God! If they insist on their blindness, let them hang in the pit of their sins, but as for yourselves, make the light of Christ your point of reference and walk towards Him! If they hold on to their endowments, leave them and leave the endowments to them! Your Christ is enough endowment for you, His Spirit enough inheritance and His love enough soil!

The same should be said for all the churches that or oppressed or in the diaspora. Those who take up Christ are in the right, while unfortunately no one in this evil time gives them what belongs to Christ in them or is zealous for them in the Spirit. The Church, whether in Antioch, Russia, the Balkans or any other place has never received what is hers except forcibly. They have never been recognized or accepted as sister churches except after a separation. This is the sickness of authority!

The churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria and the diaspora in general-- not to speak of others--  must know and behave according to what it helpful in Christ!  Anyone who supports you also does good for himself. Resist anyone who resists you and tries to bind you to flimsy pillars belonging to this world, and pay him no heed. In truth, however, he might return to his senses because God is with you and the Spirit of the Lord is supporting you! We were not born in Christ in order to be servile, nor for any worldly gain! You know the truth, and the truth will set you free! "I am your inheritance," says the Lord.

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Silouan the Athonite
Douma, Lebanon
July 13, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Met Georges Khodr: The God of the Heart

Arabic original here.

The God of the Heart

Lord, save me from myself. What is inside me is more dangerous for me than something seeking to seize me. It remains hiding like serpents and I do not know or I do not want to know, out of fear that virtue is needed within me and I do not want to give it everything that it requires, because I have not accepted to sell everything that I must sell within myself in order to become poor before God.

Man's first story is with himself. Nothing enters into him from the outside unless the soul accepts that which will not survive except at death, but before that it takes pleasure in itself. All of our pride pushes us to be content with ourselves, starting with going back to the warmth that the self gives us and which we consider to be the self. But man's first fear is of himself, of his own attacks upon himself. He desires life and death at the same time.

One who has known his Savior or has seen himself walking along the path of salvation will not die, but he does fear falling. I think that Christianity introduced the concept of fear of falling because it remains the heir to the first Adam in knowing the second Adam, which is Christ. This is that for us the believer confronts sin in a manner that does not exist in other traditions. Perhaps this is because of our basic definition of Jesus as the Savior-- that is, the Savior from sin. A long time ago, one of my friends accused me of going overboard with talking about sin. I told him that I know it, and it torments me. He said to me, "You have not committed this or that sin." I said to him, "But I am capable of doing it, because I know very well the beauty of Christ and I have every capacity for denying it. You do not fear a great deal unless it is because you know very much and fear losing a measure of love." 

Our conscience has no other task than to let us know how not to lose a single iota of love, because if you accept to lose any of it, you have made peace with sin and assaulted righteousness. The entire meaning of our existence is our wanting to remain in the love with which God has loved us. After that, all the beautiful things of God come down upon us. One who is spiritually careful is someone who knows how to lock the gates of his mind when an evil spirit has comes to it,  without submitting to evil.

The great fallacy that tempts us is our imagining that we can do without one virtue and be adorned with many other virtues and be okay. No, my friend, you will not be okay. Every sin of any sort sullies you completely deep down, without your knowing it. In the end, each of us should understand that sins are overlapping and intertwined. If you cultivate a single sin and ally yourself with it, you destroy all your good deeds because of the organic interconnection between evil deeds in the soul. You cannot be an ally of God in many virtue while also an ally of the Devil in one thing. The Devil lays waste to God's plan in souls that ally with evil. Thus our earliest fathers in the spiritual life insisted on the fight against what they called the 'passions', the sources within the soul from which sins originate.

The difficulty of the weak or hesitant believer is his not realizing that if he accepts sin into one corner of his soul, it will be brought into other corners too. What is the problem of someone who does not repent before God? It is his thinking that the Lord will arrange a place for him before he perfects all the virtues. Who is unrepentant? It is not necessarily someone who has given himself over entirely to disobedience. It is also someone who keeps a place for disobedience in one of the corners of his soul. He sincerely wants to walk along God's path, but he takes special pleasure in this or that evil deed. In reality, he fears that the heroism of righteousness will kill him. He knows much about God, but he does not want all of it because it has a cost. When the Lord said to the rich young man, "Sell everything you own and come,  follow Me," He wanted to make him understand that he cannot hold on to anything in the world or in himself because everything that is a barrier to Christ is enmity to Christ.

Why did God say to man, "Give Me your heart," meaning "Give Me all of yourself"? It is because the Lord knows that He cannot share the human heart with anything.