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Spiritual Poverty

“Those hearing the parable are faced with a serious dilemma. The Pharisee is the ideal religious model, who observes the provisions of the Law and the traditions. The tax collector’s a sinner and asks for God’s mercy, in repentance. Will God accept both of them or only one; and if one, which? Christ’s words are clear: ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other’. Here, Christ overturns people’s perception of justification and reveals that God accepts those who repent and humbly seek his mercy. The total awareness of our poverty is the basis of spiritual progress. Ontological recognition of our sinfulness is a source of energy for prayer and a firm foundation for our spirituality.” (Metropolitan Agathangelos of Fanari)

“This condemnation of the smug self-satisfaction of the Pharisee, leads us to the justification of the Publican, who keenly feels and readily acknowledges his personal inadequacies. The Publican is admittedly burdened by a host of sins. But he is acutely aware of his sinfulness and spiritual poverty. And so he stands back, in the farthest corner of the temple. He does not dare to even lift his eyes toward heaven. With heavy sighs, he whispers his short prayer, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” His prayer is a request, a plea actually, that is filled with contrition. And this contrition, this acknowledgement and confession of personal imperfection, is nothing less than the very cornerstone of the entire spiritual life. And this is because it is inseparably bound with humility of the soul; and it is humility that allows divine grace to transfigure and sanctify our lives.” (Reverend Andrew Demotses)

“The real scourge of humankind…is the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty which is the concomitant of sin, of our effort to revolt, that is, our desire to become ‘the masters of our fate’ and thereby dethroning God from His place as our Creator and Lord. But in this way an enormous and terrifying vacuum is created within us which, when we realize it consciously or unconsciously and are horrified at the abyss of its dimensions, we think we can deal with by accumulating a great deal of material wealth, so that we can feel secure in the world and can ignore the troublesome thought of death….the only thing we achieve is to fool ourselves. Because you can’t hide spiritual poverty even with the most lavish display of material goods. Existence takes precedence over various acquisitions we may have. This is a very significant truth…‘For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul? [Mark 8:36] In Biblical terminology ‘soul’ means ‘life’, ‘being’; and ‘the whole world’ means ‘having’.” (Ioannis Karavidopoulos) 

“All the inspiration to attain the Kingdom of Heaven comes from the awareness of our spiritual poverty, which helps us humble our spirit and depend our life on Him Who is able to save us. In the crisis we are now going through, we perceive the fragility and vanity of this life, which the wise Solomon expressed with lofty words (Eccles. 1:2). This very important awareness will enable us to take the right step and seek for the indestructible life (Heb. 7:15) for which we are destined.” (Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou)

“A person who has this fear of God in their heart stands in reverence before God’s greatness, and realizes their own spiritual poverty. It is this profound respect and awe (the fear of God) that motivates the soul to devote one’s whole being to God, the Creator of All.” (Metropolitan of Pisidia Sotirios) 


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