Impudence and Lack of Respect


St. Theophanes

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want. In the place of green pasture, there has He made me to dwell; beside the water of rest has He nurtured me. He has converted my soul, He has led me on the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thou has prepared a table before me in the presence of them that afflict me. Thou has anointed my head with oil, and Thy cup which filleth me, how excellent it is! And Thy mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.


On September 29th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Kyriakos the Anachorite; Saints Dada, Gabdelas, and Casdoa of Persia; Saint Dudelia of Persia; Saint Mary of Palestine; 80 Holy Martyrs of Bezantium; Saints Tryphon, Trophimos, and Dorymedon, and 150 holy Martyrs in Palestine; Saint Onouphrios of Garesji; Saint John Archbishop of Riga in Latvia; St. Cyprian of Vologda; New holy monk-Martyr Malachias of Rhodes; Saint Theophanes the Merciful.

SAINT THEOPHANES THE MERCIFUL. Saint Theophanes lived in the Syrian city of Gaza, and he helped the poor and the sick, and took in vagrants, spending all of his money and living in poverty. Not only did St. Theophanes give away all of his property, but he also lost his health. His body swelled, and began to rot and give off a stench, and he experienced great suffering. And while Saint Theophanes was dying, his wife grieved because there was a terrible storm and she feared that she would not be able to give him a proper burial. Saint Theophanes told his wife that God would send help at the hour of his death and the storms would end. Just when Saint Theophanes died, the storms ended and the rot, swelling, and stench left him. His holy relics became fragrant and exuded myrrh that healed the sick.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 14:20-25
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 5:17-26


"You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is of the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. this will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil." (Saint Seraphim of Sarov)

by Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mount Athos [source: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man]

Boldness Drives Reverence Away.

Question: Geronda, what causes us to speak boldly and without reserve? Where is boldness (parrhesia) from?

Answer: This kind of speech betrays impudence; it drives away the fear of God in us, much like smoke will drive bees away from the beehive.

Q. Geronda, how can I avoid such boldness?

A. You must feel that you are beneath everybody else. This takes a lot of humility. Being the youngest here, you must have respect and reverence for all the Sisters. State your thoughts with humility and avoid appearing as if you know everything. God will then bless you with His Grace and you will be making good progress. Outspoken boldness is the voice's worst enemy, because it takes away reverence. Usually such boldness results in rebellion, and, then, one starts becoming insensitive and indifferent to small sins, until gradually they become a habit and second nature; but deep inside the soul cannot find rest and is filled with anxiety. It is then difficult to understand one's condition because the heart is smeared with grime and cannot feel the wrong turns it is making.

--Geronda, what is the relationship between simplicity and boldness?

---There is a very clear difference between the two. Simplicity entails reverence and has a child-like quality. But the mark of boldness is audacity.

Sometimes, a person who is candid and frank will also be impudent. When we are not careful, straightforwardness and simplicity may end up harboring impudence. We say, for instance, "I am a straight arrow," or "I am a plain person," and, without realizing it, we put a lot of impudence in our words. It's one thing to be plain; it's another to impudent.

--Geronda, what is to be spiritually reserved?

--It is to have the fear of God in the good sense of the word. This fear and sense of awe brings gladness and sweetness to the heart; it begins to drip with honey, of the spiritual kind! You see a little child who is reserved and out of respect for his father, will not even look at him in the eyes. When he goes close to him to ask for something, he blushes! That's the kind of child one wants to place on the iconostasis! And then you have the child that will think, "He is my father after all," and with that in mind, he will put on airs and act out. And when he wants something, he demands it with tantrums and threats.

In a good family, the children will usually move about with a sense of freedom. They will have respect for the parents, without being overly reserved and afraid of speaking out--discipline is not rigid as in the military. The children enjoy their parents and the parents enjoy their children. "Love does not know shame" (St. Isaac the Syrian). Abba (Father) Isaac says, love has courage in the good sense of the word. It has reverence and devotion and so it wins over fear. One person with reserve will hesitate and be afraid because he does not have true reserve; one who does, who has the true spiritual reserve is never afraid. When the reserve we fee is spiritual, we are filled with joy. When a small child loves his mother and father with this kind of boldness, it is not afraid of being struck by them. He takes his father's hat, even when it's an officer's hat, throws it in the air and has such a good time. He is plain and simple, but in the good sense, not that of audacity. It is important that we separate the one from the other. Where there is no respect, no reserve, we end up with impudence, boldness and audacity. Take for example a young woman who lies in bed and tells her mother, "Mother, bring me a glass of water! Make it very cold! Oh, this is not cold. Didn't I say cold?" When they start out like this, they will no doubt come to question Saint Paul's admonition, "Let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). "Why should a woman fear her husband?" they will object.

What they don't understand is that this kind of fear is filled with respect, while respect is filled with love. It's not possible that I respect someone and not love him. A woman should respect her husband. The man should love his wife. What they do nowadays is level everything; families end up falling apart because they take the Gospel and read it upside down. "It's the wife that must obey," says the husband. What he does not understand is that if you don't have love, you cannot make even a kitten obey you. If you have no love, the other person will not respond, they will not receive the information, and you will not be able to ask them for anything, even for a glass of water. When we have respect for the other person, we have respect for ourselves too, but not of the calculating, self-serving kind. The respect we show to others is full of philotimo. But where our respect is mainly for our own self, philotomo is absent.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George