An Insatiable Hunger for Death
hysical desire comes upon us like a viper, and we do not flee as quickly as we can, restraining ourselves, and chasing it away with self-control and unceasing humble prayer to God. Instead, we mentally welcome it with open arms and settle down happily alas, in eternal death.
Anger attacks us like a savage lion, and instead of running away and-looking for a defense to hold such a great evil at bay namely longsuffering and humility, we run up to it and embrace it eagerly and allow our destroyer residence within us, as if it were our avenger and protector, wretches that we are.
Love of money hastens to drag us down to the pit of destruction, and rather than lightening our load by means of frugality and modest living, which are like wings for flying up to heaven, we bind on ourselves the burdens of covetousness, which weighs us down by desiring or acquiring as much money or valuable property as possible, and we are content to be thrown over the edge and fall down into the bottomless pit.
We received a mind that could govern itself and be its own master, and we have made it the slave of irrational passions. Unlike all other living creatures, we were honored with reason, and have turned it into the servant of such vices that we have become less honorable than brute beasts. We received a body formed by God's hands [in His very image], with the potential to become spiritual [to grow in His likeness] if we turned towards God, but because of our inclination towards earthly things, we made even our spirit into flesh, and have become of less worth than lifeless objects, self-condemned with only ourselves to blame. For inanimate things stay the same as they were made, but we have rendered ourselves useless by rejecting the purpose for which we came into being and turning our honor into disgrace. If someone whose rôle it is to correct others joins his underlings in committing immorality and helps those to whom he should be teaching self-control to find and contrive ways to be impure, is he not more foul and despicable than those who are not appointed to such a rôle and behave licentiously? If a teacher of philosophy shares his pupils' stupidity and assists them to become more foolish, is he not more unintelligent than the most ignorant of men? If a highly trained architect plays with children and builds what they call sand-castles, is he not more ridiculous than those who know no better?...
Therefore, brethren, when someone is stirred up to arrogance and pride by one of his natural qualities or something external he has made his own, he must understand that he is blunting his faith in God, falling away from divine grace, all but destroying his existence as a man, and becoming the least honorable of creatures and more mindless than brute beasts. Let him quickly correct himself by returning to humility through repentance, that he may be found by God among the merciful in the age to come (cf. Matt. 5:7), be praised as faithful and wise (Matt. 24:45, Luke n:42), and be glorified by the Son of God who humbled Himself for us, with true, unchanging and eternal glory.
May we all attain to this by the grace and love for mankind of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, together with whom glory belongs to the Father and the Holy Spirit unto all ages. Amen.
Saint Gregory Palamas The Homilies, trans. Christopher Veniamin (Waymart, PA, USA: Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009), 343-345. http://www.thaborian.com/