What Is the Point in Confessing the Same Sins?
Q: Father Andrew, your blessing. My problem is that I am ashamed to go to church. I used to go to church often but my sins are the same all the time: I’m short-tempered and I dislike people. What’s the point of going to the same place and enumerating the same sins? I have been unable to bring myself to confess for two months. Confession is when a person has repented and changed, and I am like a broken toy. I totally understand everything, and it makes it even worse. That’s because you have to act rather than talk. I don’t know what to do next.
A: Olga, if you have fallen, get up and move on. Never mind if you confess a hundred times or a thousand times, just come to church. Where else can you go? Do you want to lie down and die? That’s precisely what the demon is waiting for.
“I’m not getting it right, while there are people who don’t go to church and live better lives than I do.” This line of thinking and talking is very wrong. Yes, we are the worst sinners but God came to save us and nobody else is going to help us but Him. Even if you repeat the same sins and you suffer from them, if you speak about them during a confession and ask for God’s help, your sins will be defeated sooner or later. Instead, one can say, “Where do I go? There is no place for a person like me in the church,” because of their pride and lack of understanding. This is a sure path to a failure. The devil will then rub his hands, sit on your neck, and direct your life. So be optimistic and no matter how many times you fall down, always get up, hoping that the Lord will have mercy, forgive you and let you continue to follow Him.
How Do You Live With An Ill-Tempered Person?
Q: My grandmother has a difficult and tough temper, plus her old age has made her more difficult to deal with. I have a lot of grudges against her. What can I do about it? I can’t forgive her or apologize!
A: That’s why we need help from God: we can’t do much on our own.
It is clear that you have to deal with an old, sick person. When people grow old, they often become unbearable and intolerable. You are a Christian, so you have to forgive and ask for forgiveness to keep the peace in your heart. Your grandmother was sent to you by God to teach you how to live with God and to fight bitterness and resentment that make your life so difficult.
Start praying for your grandmother regularly. Read the Akathist to the Mother of God the Softener of Evil Hearts and ask Her to grant you love. Be sorry for her, overcome your old, sinful self, and you will feel that you get closer to God. You need to work hard in the battle against sin for a better life.
Of course, you’re going to have many excuses like, “I can’t live with her. I’m fed up with her”, but it seems that you’re your grandmother’s closest relative. She is going to leave for eternal life soon. Try to vanquish your sin and help your grandmother to calm down and leave for eternal life in peace. This is a very big deal. I think that if you do so, if you ask God to give you strength, God will grant it.
How is Meditation Different from Prayer?
Q: There are popular videos on YouTube propagating “special mindfulness methods”, which you need to listen to for several days in a row, twice a day. If you do so, they promise that you can get something you want, or be lucky and enjoy various benefits in life. I tried listening to the mantras several times, and then I wondered if I was allowed to listen to them at all. I tried to find out if meditation and Orthodox prayer could coexist, but I found different answers. Could you please clarify this question?
A: I don’t think you should ever watch that video channel again. It’s all a devilish mix of temptations, such as promises of wealth, good luck, and fulfillment of desires: just engage with the devil, and you are going to have everything. It resembles the temptation of Christ in the wilderness: All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me (Matthew 4:9; cf. Matthew 4:8).
Of course, this is quackery and deception.
Meditation is when a person attempts to climb into the Heaven using his own power and pride. Where is he going to climb, who will meet him there? Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) once wrote that going to the astral plane without repentance is fatal for a proud soul.
Meanwhile, prayer is all about trust in God. The Lord does not promise us any blessings on this earth. By contrast, He says, “Great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). We are here on earth to fight for prayer, among other things. Above all, prayer must be humble and contrite. We are conscious that we do not deserve charity, but we ask God for mercy and love – and God hears us.
We do not pray for prosperity, for worldly blessings. We pray for the Lord to have mercy on our souls, to heal them, and not to leave us without love in eternity.