The Spirit of God and the Spirit of the World


Saint Sophia Cathedral

Online Resources for our Religious Edification

Topic of the Week – The Spirit of God and the Spirit of the World


The Church is suffering today because divine illumination is missing and people understand things as it suits them. The human element gets involved; passions are aroused, and then, the devil comes and thrashes about. That is why people who are governed by their passions should not seek to govern others

[people should constantly seek enlightenment from God] otherwise the solutions they give to their problems will be nothing more than the work of their minds. This leads to confusion. Conferences and symposia… take place all the time. And the sad thing is that most of these people have never known themselves. All the knowledge in the world cannot rival the importance of self-knowledge. The more we look at ourselves humbly, the more others will recognize our worth. If people really knew themselves, they would see the sorry state of their souls, and they would be silent….

Unfortunately, Western rationalism has influenced Greek Orthodox leadersSome among them are members of the eastern Orthodox church only with their body; in truth, they belong, heart and mind, to the West which they see as “reigning” over the secular world. If they could see the West spiritually, with the light of the East, the light of Christ, they would see the spiritual twilight of the West. The West is gradually losing the light of the noetic Sun, of Christ Himself, and slipping into darkness. Some among our leaders are engaged in endless discussions on issues that need no discussion, issues that even the Holy Fathers never addressed. All such gatherings and conferences are the work of the devil. They are meant to confuse and scandalize the faithful, and drive some of them to heresies and others to schisms, so that the evil can gain more ground. Ah! The misery and confusion these leaders cause!…”

Excerpted from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p233-235

+Saint Paisios the Athonite, July 25, 1924 – July 12, 1994


Secular Education and Knowledge

When we don’t sharpen our minds by thinking about God and instead sharpen them with cunning schemes, we surrender ourselves to the devil. It would be better to have lost our minds – at least then we will have an excuse on the Day of Judgment….

[Could one confuse cunning with cleverness?] Well, he could, but, if he examines himself, he should be able to tell the one from the other. He can work with this recognition table: What are the graces of the Holy Spirit? Aren’t they love, joy, peace, patience and so forth? Is my cleverness related to these qualities? If it is not, then there is something satanic about it. It will have the marks of the devil.

It is the pure in heart, those who have been cleansed of their passions, who are truly clever. The one who is truly clever is the one who has sanctified his mind. If the mind does not become sanctified, cleverness is worthless. Look at the journalists and politicians, for example. They are very bright, but many, because their minds have not been sanctified, make clever remarks and many foolish ones as well. In fact, their overly clever remarks amount to a lot of nonsense. If we do not develop our minds, the devil will take advantage. If we do not put our intelligence to good use, the devil will use it for something evil….

Excerpted from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p229-230


“I remember an elderly monk at Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos who was so simple that he thought “Ascension” was the name of a female saint. He prayed to her on his komboschini, “Saint of God, interced for us!” Once, he had to feed a sick Brother in the infirmary but there was no feed. He immediately went down the stairs, opened a window overlooking the sea, stretched out his arms, and said, “Ascension, my Saint, give me a little fish for the Brother.” And right away – what a miracle – a big fish jumped out of the sea and into his hands. The others who saw him were astonished, but he simple looked at them smiling, as if he were saying, “What’s so strange about what you’ve just seen?” Now look at us. We may know everything about the life and martyrdom of the saints, or about when and how the Ascension took place, and yet we cannot even catch a tiny little fish! These are the strange and paradoxical things of the spiritual life. These are things that the minds of intellectuals who are centered on themselves and not on God cannot explain because their knowledge is of this world; it is sterile. Their spirits are ill with secularism, and their minds are void of the Holy Spirit…”

Excerpted from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p237-238

Middle School:

The Spiritual Life Should Make the Most of Scientific Knowledge

All evil starts from a mind that concentrates only on scientific knowledge and is totally withdrawn from God. This is why it is difficult for scientists to find inner peace and balance. By contrast, when the mind revolves around God and is sanctified, science can then be used to cultivate our inner life and benefit the world…. science can be of great help but it can also muddle the mind greatly. I have met souls who possessed great clarity of mind even though they had only a minimal education. When minds that had been confused by science receive the Grace of God, they become equipped with a clarity that only enhances their work. But if their tools are not sanctified, if their knowledge lacks holiness, this knowledge will only be good for secular things; it will have no spiritual impact whatsoever. Our intellectual tools can be sanctified very quickly if we have the right kind of concern. Scientists and educated people who place their inner education, the education of their souls, first and use even their outer education to benefit their inner one, are those that are quickly spiritually transformed. If they also try to live spiritually, then they can be a positive example for people because they can help remove the anxiety of hell from human hearts and open the way for heavenly joy. It may be that those (less educated) may have fewer diplomas, but being filled with divine Grace rather than degrees, they can really help others. The world is so full of sin that what we need most of prayer and a spiritual life. All these books and papers are like paper money. They have value only if there are gold reserves in our inner “bank.” We must therefore descend into the “mine” of the soul and work hard….

Excerpted from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p236-237

High School:

Let Us Sanctify Knowledge

Education and knowledge are good things, but if they are not sanctified, they will be wasted things that lead to disaster. A group of university students arrived at my kalyvi one day, loaded with books. They said, “Geronda, we are here to discuss the Old Testament with you. God permits knowledge, doesn’t He?” What kind of knowledge do you mean, ” I asked them, “knowledge acquired with the mind?” “Yes,” they answered. “This kind of knowledge,” I replied, “will take you up to the moon, but will not lead you to God.” It is good to have a good brain and go to the moon and spend billions of dollars in fuel expenses and so on. But it is far better to have the spiritual powers that raise man to God, his ultimate destination, with only a bit of fuel, a mere dried piece of bread.

Once I asked an American who visited me at the kalyvi, “What has this great nation of your accomplished?” “We went to the moon,” he replied. “How far is that?” I continued. “Oh, perhaps half a million kilometres away,” he replied. “How many millions of dollars did you spend to get there?” “Since 1950,” he said, “we have spent rivers of dollars.” “Did you get to God? How far is He?” “God,” he said, “is very, very far.” “Well,” I replied, “it only takes us a dry piece of bread to get to Him!”

Natural knowledge will help us acquire the spiritual knowledge. But when we do not go beyond the level of natural knowledge, we are confined to nature and cannot reach Heaven. In other words, we remain in an earthly paradise… we do not ascend to the heavenly Paradise to rejoice with the angels and the saints. In order to reach the heavenly Paradise, we need to have faith in the Landlord of Paradise, in order to love HimWe need to realize how sinful we are, and be humbled. In this way we will come to know Him, to converse with Him in prayer, and praise Him, not only for His help, but also for our many trials and tribulations…”

Excerpted from With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p240-241


A Message from Maria Spanos

I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria

Two of my favorite quotes:

“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.”  — Saint John of Kronstadt


Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse