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Let's Be "Manly."

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Many years ago, I was at a wedding reception. I was a relatively new deacon, and I recall that we did the wedding ceremony along with the divine liturgy so that the pious couple would receive the Mysteries together, It was a beautiful ceremony, one which I will remember forever, as it was my first as an ordained clergyman. I went to the restroom at the venue and had to disrobe in the stall. While I was there, a couple of guys came in ( I could tell they could see who was in there by my clothing hanging down nearly to the floor) and one of them whispered to the other for a moment, then very flippantly said "Do you smell that? Smells like that church in here. Smells like ___! That church smelled like ___! Haha!!" They laughed and laughed. It was offensive, sure. However, these were "Manly Greeks" and so, when a sick person coughs, you don't get mad; they're sick. I do hope they have a change of heart someday.

I also recall a young man weeping in confession about his sins, but he complained that he couldn't attend church more, or come on time to services because he didn't want to seem too feminine. "Who filled you with such poinson?" I would ask. I also recall a Russian man who said something along the same lines, and my response was "You sound like a Soviet!"

In another instance, I recall a parishioner being berated by a male family member during church because he wept over his sins during the service. "Men don't cry. Knock it off and grow up."

Somewhere along the lines, long ago, men got it into their heads that anything pious, or anything having to do with the Church is for the women or is "too feminine" or "not manly" to partake in. It's no wonder then, that most churches are "leaning to the port side" or nearly devoid of any male presence on a given Sunday Liturgy. I am grossly oversimplifiying, but I think my point is clear: there is a misconception among many men in the world about what contsitutes true "manliness." It seems to me in my sinfulness that at the very least, it is "manly" to spiritually kill oneself and promote others to do so as well.

Our Lord Christ loves us more than we can fathom. He wept when His friend Lazarus was dead. Christ gave to all who asked of Him. He holds no grudges and forgives all who repent. He was and is faithful to His bridegroom, the Church; He is faithful and always will be. He is the new Adam, who was the first man and so in truth, Christ is truly manly; He can be nothing else. So if the words of St. Paul (Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 1Cor 1:11 ) are correct, then for us to be truly men, we must be followers and imitators of Christ.

So, to my fellow men: Let's be manly.

Letter 86

To a tradesman Pajo C. About Confession

You wanted to know if confession was really necessary. You used to go to confession often, but then someone mocked you for it so you stopped. You should not have stopped. Whom have people not mocked? You know what the Seer said, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.” Aside from your trade, you say you have a vineyard which yields well because you take good care of it. If someone would abandon their own vineyard and mocked you for cultivating yours, would you also give up on caring for it? Surely not. So how could you waver about cultivating your soul which is more important than any vineyard on earth? Because when you die you will keep your soul but leave the vineyard behind. Of all cultivation, the cultivation of the soul is the most important. And of all the labors that man engages in on earth, labor for the soul is the most important. So, go back to your previous work on your soul and go to confession again. This is what the Apostle James says, “Confess your sins to one another.” Sins grow and multiply in the dark, but as soon as they are out in the light, they wither and dry up.

Do not say, “I am not a sinner!” Read what the righteous one says in the Psalter, “I was conceived in iniquities and in sins did my mother bear me.” And do not say that you confess your sins direcly to God and have no need of confession before men. Who was more righteous than the Apostle Paul? And that Paul had a sin before his Apostleship, as Saul, and he confessed that sin publicly, not once but multiple times, and not just before the faithful but also before the godless. He says to the baptized Galatians, “You have heard how I greatly persecuted the church of God and wreaked havoc upon it.” He says the same thing before the un-baptized king Agrippa (Acts 26). And if Saint Paul acted this way, why would you keep the wounds of your soul hidden? Why would you leave snakes to multiply in your bosom? Just because someone mocked you? If he mocked you once, will he mock you forever? Pray for that person in secret. He might even repent and wash away his sin with tears. What is more wavering than a man’s thoughts? How many people repent in the evening over the words they uttered during the day! So, when it comes to your soul, do not listen to every passing comment, but listen to what God’s Church says. Talk to elders who confess people, and they will tell you of the great relief found by the many who confessed sincerely. It is no imaginary tale but the hard truth that many dying people being in a long agony could only repose once they confessed their sins before a priest. I could tell you of such examples myself, having witnessed them. Our God is the God of mercy and goodness, and He wishes for all to be saved. But how can one be saved if he does not clearly understand the distinction between sin and God’s righteousness, renounce the sin and embrace the righteousness of God? One goes to the Judgment with whatever he carries on his soul at the moment of death. If it is sin, then with sin. If it is righteousness, then with righteousness.

God awaits repentance of every mortal, and repentance implies the confession of one’s sins. And since the Angel of death can appear at any moment to take our soul, this is why the Church recommends to its faithful to confess often and repent even more often.

 May God enlighten and bless you.

Missionary Letters of Nikolai Velimirovich, Part 1, pg 163

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