The Second Vesper during the Holy Lent in the Holy Metropolis of Corfu
On Sunday afternoon, March 17, 2019, the Second Vesper during the Holy Lent was held at the Holy Church of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, with his Eminence, the Bishop of Corfu, Paxoi and Diapontian Islands, Mr. Nektarios.
The Divine Speech was proclaimed by his Eminence as following: “Self-knowledge: a prerequisite for the realization of our Orthodox faith.” As humans, We ignore the most important knowledge, the knowledge of ourselves, which is a necessary effort on our part. Saint Nicodemus of the Mount Athos considers self-knowledge as an important element of spiritual life and of Christ’s completion. Self-knowledge is necessary for two reasons. First, it helps us understand reality. We know today the reality outside of us. The best of what we learn with admiration, what’s happening on the earth’s escarpments and even when they happen. Unfortunately we do not know the closest to us reality. Who can say with certainty that he knows himself? In this area of knowledge, we are back. That’s why we live with delusions. Humans are accompanied by the poverty, weakness and ignorance. Their greatest and tragic ignorance is the ignorance of their ignorance. We can distinguish four levels of knowledge of ourselves. The first is what we seem to be. What others see and may seem in their own eyes “saints,” while of course we are far from such a situation. A second level is what we think we are. We usually have a superficial knowledge of ourselves. That is why our confession in the spiritual father is poor and shallow. At the third level, we can discover what we are, when we systematically study ourselves, when we thoroughly interrogate our actions when we engage the inner person. Then we discover a lot of useless elements inside us. And a fourth level is what we really are. This, of course, is known only by God. He who knows the cry of our hearts. We can always get closer to knowing ourselves. At the very depth of ourselves we can discover the ancient splendor, which is the images of God and its potential omnipotence. The inner depth of self is treated by everyone with admiration, gratitude to their Creator. Self-awareness cures us. It leads us to the knowledge of our illness and so diagnosis will lead us to the doctor. Basil the Great claims that curing ourselves is the most difficult of all, characterizes it as “the worst” because we humans are always drawn to ourselves.
Moreover, his Eminence has pointed out that there are many ways that will lead us to our knowledge of oneself, citing in any way the all-powerful Christ’s Grace. Firstly, it may be very helpful for us to study the word of God. A second way is the opinion of others. Our own eyes are not enough to see ourselves. The one who can accept the control and the opinion of his brother, can love the one who points to his weaknesses and shortcomings. The opinion of our spiritual father counts a lot. Instead, the weak mentally, when he will listen to control, he will get more evil from him and hate his brother. A third way is self-examination in our quiet. Not the opinions of others are enough, it is absolutely necessary to try ourselves, to work for ourselves, to cultivate it. This requires time and diligence. A fourth way is prayer. The inner man, writes St. John of the Scale, prayer reveals him. Prayer is the mirror of spiritual progress and the manifestation of measures of virtue. Knowing ourselves through ourselves traps us into the devil’s nets, leading us to self-destruction. On the contrary, our knowledge of God through God leads us to humiliation, brings repentance and true redemption.
Moreover, Mr. Nektarios referred to the results of self-knowledge as following: a) our self-knowledge leads us to God. b) self-knowledge helps meeting our fellow brothers and sisters, the plesion. c) self-knowledge aids at knowing everything.
In his closing, his Eminence read the prayers of Saint Efraim the Syrian and our modern father of our Church, father Efsevios Vittis that both stress the importance of self-knowledge and repentance.