Friday, October 8, 2021

"Friends Are Very Influential on Children" (St. Paisios the Athonite)

Saint Paisios the Athonite once said:

Friends are very influential on children. When I was young, I had love within my nature. I would go somewhere with the animals and I was looking to put one animal on top of the other, while at the same time I had my little brother on my shoulder. One day a brother of mine killed a bird and I got very upset and we got into a fight. I took the bird and buried it with tears.

During that time I was hanging out with children my age. We went to the forest, we prayed, we read the lives of the Saints, we fasted.

Then their mothers started not letting them come with me. "Do not hang out with him," they told them, "he will give you tuberculosis."

So they left me and I felt alone. They even made fun of me, "monk this" "monk that", they called me, they had made my life a torture.

I once got to a point where I could not stand the mockery. Then I said: "I will go with the older children and I will pretend."

So I started hanging out with older kids. I got tires and made a slingshot. First I supposedly hit the mark only with the slingshot. Then I got bullets and I became the best shooter. Once, as soon as I killed a bird and saw it dead, I recovered. I threw away both the tires and the bullets.

"You were crying," I said to myself, "when your brother killed a bird and you fought with him because he killed it, and now where are you? You kill birds and little by little you will come to kill animals as well." Indeed, if I continued like this, I would eventually go hunting for animals and then I would skin them. From a sensitivity to what evil one can reach, if one is not careful and seduced by bad company!

While good company helps a lot, God filled people with various gifts. People, when they see the perversion of others, in the same way they can see their virtue and imitate it.

Source: From the book Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Family Life, vol. 4. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.