The proudest person is not he who brags about himself with pride, but he who brags about being very humble.
He who justifies himself when he makes mistakes, transforms his heart into a demonic refuge and will continue to err, but even more so. If he does not crush his ego, he will be crushed by his egoism to no avail. He who justifies his passions gradually falls seriously ill, his cough even betraying him then.
Whoever is not aware of his sinfulness and brags about himself, suffers from two (spiritual) illnesses, scabies and flakes. No matter how much he wants to cover his wounds and look dignified, the itching harasses him and the abrasions betray him.
Those who do not accept criticism, even from their loved ones, receive the mockery of all those with a worldly attitude, and, in the end become quarrelsome and spiritually useless. They resemble those planks that refuse to be sanded by the carpenter in order to be made into furniture. They end up being used for concrete or as scaffolding, are stepped on, covered with mud until they fall apart and end up in the fire.
He who is very proud, especially when ill tempered, derives no benefit from the very humble when they humble themselves before him; on the contrary, he oftentimes becomes even more insolent. Humility, however, causes even the devil to disappear. This is why Divine Grace deserts the proud and goes to the humble.
He who has a great idea about himself reveals that he is outside of himself (demented), for, instead of being grateful to God for all the good He has given him, he wrongs Him, appropriating for himself the gifts of God.
He who continually boasts about himself continually wrongs himself for he will never have spiritual flights but continual falls, until he collapses, since he does not have a contrite heart and a humble attitude.
All those who don’t experience falls in this world and yet have all the pride in the world, reveal that their pride has exceeded its limits (has, in fact, reached a Satanic degree), and that their fall occurred from the back side of a high peak (a luciferian fall).
He who has much pride is worse than one who has a demon, for pride continues to swell until it suddenly bursts, whereas the man with an unclean spirit, besides being tormented and paid back (or collecting his savings, if he is not to blame), is necessarily humbled in the eyes of men, finally being liberated by God, with a twofold profit remaining in his soul.
Pride greatly obstructs the Grace of God. Even a mere prideful thought adulterates our virtues; not unlike when bird droppings fall on fried eggs, making both the fried eggs and the frying pan fit only for the garbage.
Those who are able to endure the very proud without, however, flattering them, are the most humble, the most faithful and just, for they will be continually wronged and looked down upon by the proud.
We owe greater gratitude to those who humble us, wrong us, and douse us with venom, than to those who nurse us with honour and sweet words, or feed us with tasty food and confections, for bile is the best medicine for our soul.
Let us not examine whether we were justly or unjustly embittered, out of love or viciousness, or whether we are at fault slightly or not at all. We should accept with joy the spiritual benefit that every trial leaves behind, glorify God for everything and be grateful to the people who wrong us.
Blows are necessary for the salvation of our soul because they purify the soul. The more someone scours and scrubs his clothes, the cleaner they get. The same applies to the octopus and the squid; the more you beal them, the softer they become and the more the fluid is washed away.
On the contrary, the worldly caressing of praises is very harmful to souls which are spiritual damaged and the virtuous get paid back in this vain life (with praises) when their virtues are flouted. We should rather receive fewer praises than are our virtues, so thai the spiritual scale may incline toward the just on the Day of Judgement, that we might see the face of God.
Woe unto us, when they advertise us; is comely watermelons when we, in fact, within we are pumpkins. (God help you, wretched Paisios!)
Woe, and three times woe, unto him who is careless and gives everyone the impression that he is a saint. In this, he eternally wrongs himself, since when he dies no one will pray for the repose of his soul, even though he will need it; instead, everyone will beatify him. (Unfortunately, I was not careful about this either and have transgressed against my soul. Pray that the Good Lord grant rest to my soul.)
Worldly relaxation and being at ease in our thoughts never bring rest to the soul, neither in the present life, since divine consolation is absent, nor in the life of the age to come. Instead, they begin torturing us in this life and have their end in the eternal and unbearable torment of hell.
He who is wounded because he abased himself in the eyes of others due to his carelessness yet is not hurt because he has wounded Christ, will be continually grieved and downcast, and will fall constantly until he changes his ways and humbles himself. Only then will he be saved from his temporal falls and the eternal descent that awaits him.
Whoever rejoices when admired by people is mocked by demons.
No one will ever find spiritual fruits in a vainglorious man, but if he does find some, they will be hollow. For the humble man, however, to be in spiritual poverty is to have spiritual riches.
Worldly people, who feed their bodies with rich Food and their souls with flattering words, remain hungry and spiritually empty. The thrones and power they pursue will be left behind in this vain world. They will be I’ll alone with their dreams, which will torture them more in the next life, having become the cause of their toil ol heavenly goods. Those, however, who struggled spiritually, preferred plain food and a humblestool (instead of thrones) and sat themselves down on the seat — judging their own selves — are released from the trial of the Righteous Judge on the Day of Judgement and inherit Paradise as children of God who have philotimo.
When we seek to be justified in this life and avoid being rebuked, we reveal that the worldly way of thinking is still robust within us. This sorrow has no repentance whatsoever but rather seeks human recognition, which poisons the soul and body with the bitter gall that it exudes.
Whoever weeps with philotimo, because he has wounded Christ with his sins, immediately receives divine consolation, in proportion to the degree of his sorrow.
Until a sensitive soul who has philotimo is spiritually strengthened, it is not benefited by the detailed analysis of its faults because the evil one wars against it using its hypersensitivity, in order to induce anxiety. The evil one does not go against the grain in this case, but goes with the flow. In other words, he tries to increase the cries and distress in order to cause grief to the soul and strangle it with anxiety.
Women, naturally, are warred against more due to the over-sensitivity that the evil one fosters, inasmuch as their very tender heart and their less logical minds, in comparison to men, do not help them. (Men have more logic and toughness but a less sensitive heart.)
If it happens, however, that there is a woman who has a sharpened mind in devilishness, and who has by nature more wickedness and less love, and yet considers these traits as manliness and brags about them, then — God forbid — she can surpass both the Pope in infallibility and Mussolini in brutality.
The worst enemy, even greater than the devil, is evil-ness combined with pride, because not only does this defile the virtues and render them useless, but exhausts the body as well, and plunges the soul into hell.
Just as a small hole in a tin causes food to spoil, because air seeps in, similarly, a single prideful thought, if it crosses our mind, puffs us up and makes us boastful, rendering the virtues useless.
Most of the time, egotism causes us the greatest spiritual harm, because egotism is the most vigorous and wrongheaded child of pride.
Of course, if the “I” did not exist and human beings used only the “you, he or she” humility, love, and the blessing of God would exist in the world and people would then live a heavenly life on earth. May the Good God grant this blessing to His creatures. Amen.
—Elder Paisios of Mount Athos