The feast day of proto-martyr Stephen the Deacon is coming up right on the heels of the Nativity of Christ on December 27th, and that made me think of death by stoning, a punishment specified for a number of offenses in the laws of the Torah. Last February I explored the concept during my study of the five books of Moses, which I posted HERE. Today as I was perusing the blog of a Christian brother, I came upon this very good word of Elder Païsios, which I want to reproduce here in its entirety. The Elder is one of two recently reposed saints whose words and acts I follow with the attentive eye of a bird intent on catching a worm. The other is, of course, Elder Porphyrios. I confess, these are my two favorite modern 'desert fathers,' and it's because they lived and taught by word and example the way of following Jesus in the modern world.
Here is what Elder Païsios says...
A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for and be sensitive towards all people. Those who inconsiderately toss out comments, even if they are true, can cause harm.
I once met a theologian who was extremely pious, but who had the habit of speaking to the (secular) people around him in a very blunt manner; his method penetrated so deeply that it shook them very severely. He told me once: “During a gathering, I said such and such a thing to a lady.” But the way that he said it, crushed her. “Look”, I said to him, “you may be tossing golden crowns studded with diamonds to other people, but the way that you throw them can smash heads, not only the sensitive ones, but the sound ones also.”
Let’s not stone our fellow-man in a so-called “Christian manner.” The person who – in the presence of others – checks someone for having sinned (or speaks in an impassioned manner about a certain person), is not moved by the Spirit of God; he is moved by another spirit.
The way of the Church is LOVE; it differs from the way of the legalists. The Church sees everything with tolerance and seeks to help each person, whatever he may have done, however sinful he may be.
I have observed a peculiar kind of logic in certain pious people. Their piety is a good thing, and their predisposition for good is also a good thing; however, a certain spiritual discernment and amplitude is required so that their piety is not accompanied by narrow-mindedness or strong-headedness. Someone who is truly in a spiritual state must possess and exemplify spiritual discernment; otherwise he will forever remain attached to the “letter of the Law”, and the letter of the Law can be quite deadly.
A truly humble person never behaves like a teacher; he will listen, and, whenever his opinion is requested, he responds humbly. In other words, he replies like a student. He who believes that he is capable of correcting others is filled with egotism.
A person that begins to do something with a good intention and eventually reaches an extreme point, lacks true discernment. His actions exemplify a latent type of egotism that is hidden beneath this behavior; he is unaware of it, because he does not know himself that well, which is why he goes to extremes.
Lord, have mercy on me, Romanós the sinner!