How do we react when we hear people cursing? Do we stay silent?
If so, how do we ever find the courage to defend our family, the law, someone who is accused and unfairly insulted?
The advice of Saint Paisios is the following.
– Elder, when they speak against the Church or against monasticism, etc., what should one do?
– First, if someone is talking badly of you as a person, it does not matter. You must think that “Christ, who was a God, was derided, and He was not defending Himself; We are sinners, what do we deserve?” If someone talks badly of me as a person, I would not mind at all. However, when they insult me as a monk, they insult the monasticism as a whole, since as a monk I am not independent, and I have to speak. In such cases one has to let them vent their anger, and then talk with them. Once in a bus a woman was talking badly of the priests. I let her vent her anger and, when she stopped, I said to her: “We are demanding with the priests, but God did not send them to Earth as the new messiahs. They are human and have weaknesses. But can you tell me; a mother like you with dyed hair, nails like a hawk, to what kind of child she will give birth, and how she will raise it? If it become a priest or a monk, how will it be?”
I remember, once again, when I was traveling by bus from Athens to Ioannina, there was someone who was blaming a metropolitan for causing problems. I said to that person a few words of advice and then I prayed. That person kept on blaming the metropolitan. When we arrived in Ioannina, I told him, “Do you know who I am?” “No,” he replied. “How can you say all those bad things? I may be worse than the one you curse, but I may be a saint. How can you tell in front of me all those things that I have never imagined a layperson could say? You must learn to behave, because God will slap you – for your sake of course.” I saw that he began to tremble. The other people seemed to understand what I was saying.
– You hear people cursing at God and no one reacts. In this case meekness is not good. Once I was travelling from Mount Athos, I met in the boat somebody who was institutionalized and was allowed to come to Mount Athos. He was screaming and cursing at all those in power, the doctors… “So many years I suffered from electroshock therapies and pills. The outside world has nothing to afraid. You have a good time with your cars. I was twelve years old when my mother sent me to an island. For twenty-five years I’m going from a madhouse to a madhouse.” He was cursing all the political parties and then began to blaspheme. Infuriated, I told him, “Stop! There is no authority here?” . He was speaking about his problems, by shouting and cursing. My words hurt him. Then he came, and kissed my hand. I kissed him, too. He was right. All of us are responsible to some extent. I was also the reason for his cursing. If I had the mental strength, I would have healed him. Two sailors were brawling and cursing at Christ and the Virgin Mary. They could not bear it. “Shame on Greeks and Christians, to curse at Christ and Virgin Mary!” They grabbed them and threw them into the sea. Fortunately, they could swim and they were saved. Even if they insult somebody, we have to defend him, let alone Christ!
A child, who had a bright smile but with a bad leg, came to my cell. I said: “There is something in you, so I can see the Grace of God!” We were getting to know each other and I asked him how it came to injure his leg. Someone was cursing at Christ and Virgin Mary, and the child pounced on him to make him stop. He was stronger, and beat the child that much that left him with an injured leg. Confessor! How brave were the Confessors and the Martyrs!
*The article was originally published in Greek in ikivotos.gr