My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,



By Saint John Climacus

An old man, very experienced in these matters, once spiritually admonished a proud brother who said in his blindness: "Forgive me father, but I am not proud." "My son", said the wise old man, "what better proof of your pride could you have given than to claim that you were not proud?"

Saint John writes, "Pride begins where vainglory leaves off. Its midpoint with the humiliation of our neighbor, the shameless parading of our achievements, complacency, and unwillingness to be found out. It ends with the spurning of God’s help, the exalting of one’s own efforts, and a devilish disposition."

If our contemporary world is suffering it is because of a unique pandemic, an old virus known as pride. A spiritual virus, a passion, that is easily spread from one person to another. Pride inflicts humanity with all kinds of symptoms that bring spiritual paralysis and blindness. It takes over the human being and overpowers independent thinking, feeling, and acting. A person loses his/her free will given to us by our Merciful and Loving God.

A proud person is filled with self-admiration and conceit. He or she only thinks of himself or herself. The person becomes selfish and self-centered. People characterize them as the "me" generation. It is what I want, what makes me happy, and what benefits me. No one else matters. The person feels entitled and everyone else is there to satisfy his or her every demand or need. All others are expected to constantly feed their ego and puffed up his/her self-esteem.

What is resented by the proud is any form of criticism. The proud can never be accused of having any faults for they consider themselves infallible. According to the holy Apostle James, "God resists the proud" (James 4:6). Who then could have mercy on them? Before God every proud man is unclean and who then could purity such a person?" asks Saint John Climacus. Pride is the greatest obstacle to communion with God and salvation that comes from Him. The proud person could never even admit to being a sinner and therefore there is not even the slightest desire to repent. Saint John says, "Pride makes us forget our sins, for the remembrance of them leads to humility."

The proud are devoid of faith. He or she thinks of themselves as a deity. The proud person worships himself or herself. There is no need for God. God does not exist. There is no belief in righteousness or holiness. Life is only here on earth and there is nothing beyond it. There are no rules, no morality, no values, no conscience, no apologies, no remorse, no accountability, and no fear of God. The attitude is "eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19). The proud person is foolish, despite his or her wealth, profession, or social standing because he/she vainly puts all trust in material possessions rather than in God.

Pride causes spiritual blindness and a lack of discernment. Our Lord, God, and Savior taught that "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing" (Luke 12:23). The proud person is unable to understand that material riches do not bring happiness or contentment while spiritual wealth abides eternally. Gluttony, greed, drunkenness, carnal pleasure, power, and personal corruption are not only acceptable but are justified by the proud.

Pride is a deadly illness of the soul just as dangerous as cancer is to the body. The cure for this grave illness is humility. The holy Apostle James (Iakvos) writes: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:10). When one becomes humble begins to acknowledge the existence of God and submits to God’s will. In the absence of pride begins a life of virtue. Saint Maximus the Confessor says, "The reward for the toils of virtue is dispassion and spiritual knowledge. For these are the mediators of the Kingdom of Heaven, just as passions and ignorance are the mediators of eternal punishment. It is because of this that he or she who seeks those rewards for the sake of human glory and not for their intrinsic goodness is rebuked by the words of the Holy Scripture: "You ask, and do not receive because you ask wrongly" (The Philokalia Vol II, p. 71).

Avoid the sin of pride and "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8). Since pride is an illness we must seek the Physician of our souls and bodies, Christ God. Jesus is the Divine Healer and throughout His earthly Diakonia (Ministry), He healed all kinds of illnesses and all kinds of diseases (Luke 4:18). In addition, Jesus healed darkened hearts and minds as He released people from demonic oppressions. Our Holy Orthodox Church has never believed as though the gifts of the Holy Spirit or the healing of our Lord Christ have somehow passed away. Our Savior promised us, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father?" (John 14:12). Our Holy Orthodox Church has a special service of healing, Holy Unction (Oil). The Priest prays for the ill person (s), anointing him/her with holy oil saying:

"O Holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, Who sent Your Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord
Jesus Christ to heal every infirmity and deliver from death, heal also these, Your servants from
the ailment of their body and soul, and endow them with life by the Grace of Your Christ, through
the intercessions of Our All-Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, the power of the honored
Bodiless Powers in Heaven; the supplications of the honored, glorious Prophet and Forerunner
John the Baptist, the Hol, glorious and All-laudable Apostles…".

At the end of the Service, the faithful come forth to be anointed on the forehead, chin, cheeks, and hands by the Priest who anoints them by making the sign of the cross and says: "O Holy Father, Physician of our souls and bodies, have mercy, forgive, and save Your servant (Name)."

As Orthodox Christians we pray, neither commending God to heal, nor doubting His power to heal, but humbly supplicating for His promised mercy upon all who are suffering spiritually or bodily.

"Glory Be To GOD
All Things!
– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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