Culture is good, but in order for it to be useful, the soul must also be “cultivated”. Otherwise, culture will end in disaster.
Saint Paisios (1924–1994), born Arsenios Eznepidis, was a well known ascetic from Mount Athos. He was highly respected and loved for his spiritual guidance and ascetic life. Many people worldwide venerate Elder Paisios, especially in Greece and Russia and his sayings, documented by his dedicated students, have become ubiquitous in Orthodox houses. St. Paisios's words, unusual in their simplicity, warmness and realism, seem to be exactly what modern people desperately need. (Some books in English can be found on Amazon).
What People Have Achieved Today
Culture is good, but in order for it to be useful, the soul must also be “cultivated”. Otherwise, culture will end in disaster. <…> People of the 20th century – what have they achieved with their culture and civilization? They have driven the world mad, they have polluted the atmosphere, they have ruined everything in the world. <…>
Geronda, why is cancer so widespread?
Chernobyl and all that stuff, you think it’s gone without a trace? That’s where it all comes from. These people, that’s their fruit… The people are terribly disfigured. At what point were there so many sick people? People weren’t like that in the old days. Nowadays, any letter I receive contains complaints of cancer, a mental illness, a stroke, or a broken family. Back in the day, cancer was rare. I mean, life was natural. We’re not talking about what God allowed. Man ate natural food and was in good health. Everything was clean: fruits, onions, tomatoes. Nowadays, even natural food causes man to suffer. Those who eat only fruit and vegetables suffer even more harm because everything is contaminated. If it had been like that before, I would have died at a young age, because as a monk, I ate what I got from the vegetable garden: leeks, lettuce, onions, cabbage and the like, and I felt fine. And now they fertilize and spray their fields… Just imagine what today’s people eat! Emotional turmoil, food surrogates – all this makes one sick. By applying science without reasoning, people ruin themselves.
Geronda, why were people more resilient in asceticism before and their health was stronger than ours? Did it matter what they ate?
Yes, because in those days, food was clean. I think that’s pretty clear without explanation. Everything that people ate was ripe. Nowadays, in order to keep fruits and vegetables from spoiling, they’re picked up early and put in the fridge. They pluck unripe green fruits from the tree and leave them to ripen in boxes. Previously, the fruit was ripe and fell from the tree itself, or fell off a branch as soon as you touched it with your hand. Children would eat bread with butter or milk, and it would give them health. In addition to eating good and wholesome food, people would also use their brains and, when they were sick with something, they knew whether it was because of food or not. Now, the food is not natural and they don’t bother to get their brains working.
How much junk is being produced now! Wool is slowly being taken out of use. Finding a woolen shirt to soak up sweat is a problem. When I put on a shirt, I immediately notice if it has synthetic fiber. If it does, I can’t breathe, I’m all sore, I just can’t stand it! They believe that such shirts are more durable and better than natural ones. They think that this is progress! Well, are they good for your health? No, on the contrary, when making and wearing such things, people damage their health. They put a label Made of Pristine Pure Wool on those shirts. Sure, I guess they can find many more words for advertising, even sweeter ones! We have sheep now only for meat, because we make wool from oil. Silkworm caterpillars say, “Well, if you want better silk than ours, then make it yourself!”
People Have Lost Their Patience
Geronda, why do we have no patience today?
Everything that happens today is not good for people. In the past, life was peaceful, and people themselves were peaceful and very enduring. They were able to be patient. Today, all this rush that entered the world has made people impatient. In the past, people knew that they would start eating tomatoes at the end of June. It never even occurred to them to eat tomatoes before. People were waiting for August to eat watermelon, they knew when it was time to eat figs and when to eat melons. What’s going on now? Suppliers go to Egypt and buy tomatoes there early, although until the tomatoes ripen, there are oranges in Greece – with the same vitamins. No, oranges, you see, they don’t want oranges! Oh, my brother, be patient and eat something else! No, they’ll go to Egypt and bring tomatoes anyway. <…>
Tomatoes and other fruit and vegetables grow on hormones! Fruits ripen in one night, but what about those unfortunate people who are hypersensitive to hormones, don’t they matter? Let them get sick, huh? They screwed up animals, too, whether you take chickens or calves. Forty-day-old chickens are pumped with hormones to the weight of six-month-old chickens. One eats their meat, but what good will it do him? In order for cows to give more milk, they’re fed with hormones, too. Cows give more milk, but then the producers can’t sell that milk! There are strikes, the price of milk drops, they pour it on the road, and people drink milk filled with hormones! If left as laid out by God, everything would follow its course and people would drink pure milk! Plus, these injections make everything tasteless. Tasteless products, tasteless people – everything has become tasteless. Even life itself has lost its taste for people…