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The sense of taste has to be trained so that it does not dictate what one eats at all times. To have a liking for gourmet food all the time, and conversely, to have a disliking for humble foods is not the way of spiritual perfection. Remember our Mother Eve. One bite into the forbidden food had such a disastrous outcome. Amos 6:4 tells us, “Woe unto them who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall.” Here it is not the food that is to blame but the life style.
Remember also the rich man, who “fared sumptuously every day.” Luke 16:19 emphasizes the word “everyday”, for it is not a sin to eat delicious food once in a while, for example on feasts and when we have guests. For even the Father of the Prodigal sun ordered them to “bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.” (Luk 15:23) Even the Fathers of the desert broke their austere diet of dry bread, salt and water whenever they had a guest. They really splurged then; the master would tell his disciple, boil us a few lentils for the sake of the guest!
St. Paul tells us, “every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil 4:12) That means that I can enjoy a good meal but I can also endure hunger. I eat delicious food sometimes but I also eat humble food when I have to, for example during fasting. Train your taste buds to be content with whatever food there is.


The tongue is not only the organ of taste, it is also the organ of speech. We are all familiar with the sins of speech, like swearing, lying, gossiping and taking the name of the Lord in vain. And I am sure that we all confess about these sins and get the proper advise from our Father in confession concerning them. What I would like to talk to you about are sins we do not confess about because most of us do not know that they are sins.


That talkativeness is a sin is obvious from what the Bible tells us.
Here are some verses from the Old Testament about talkativeness: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (Prov 10:19) “He that hath knowledge spareth his words.” (Prov 17:27) “A fool's voice is known by multitude of words.” (Eccl 5:3)
But the most stern warning about talkativeness comes from the Lord of Glory Himself, in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
That means that every word said unnecessarily, we will have to account for on the day of judgment. That is scary!
The Fathers tell us that talkativeness is a sign of pride. A talkative person feels that he has lots of wisdom that he feels obliged to share with the world!
Talkativeness is the mother of gossip and backbiting and ruining of people’s reputation. It is the root of arguments and boasting. A talkative person usually embellishes his stories with exaggerations and half truths to attract the admiration of the hearers.
Young people spend hours talking on the phone, without feeling that they are doing anything wrong. But this is exactly what is meant by “idle words” of which we have to give an account.
A new twist to the long phone conversations is the infamous MSN conversations. Chatting on the internet is now the in thing. You don’t even need a computer anymore thanks to text messaging which is available on your cellular phone.
The amazing thing is that some young people spend hours on MSN then pick up the phone to talk to the person with whom they were chatting.
The Fathers took this sin seriously, they cultivated the virtue of silence by various ways. Saint Arsenius once said, “Many times have I spoken and regretted it, but silence I never regretted.”
The first step in combatting this sin is to realize that it is a sin. To ground in your mind the verse from Matthew 12 about “idle words.” Next, you have to exercise yourself in silence. One of the Fathers used to put a pebble under his tongue to remind him to keep silent when he is attacked by the urge to talk. Well, perhaps you can find a more hygienic way of doing this by using a button from an old shirt!


Is giving advice a sin? Yes, in certain circumstances. First, if the advice is given without being asked for advice. And second, when you are not qualified to give advice. The problem is that when we are asked for advice, we instantly become experts on the subject even if we didn’t know anything about it!Few are those who have the wisdom and the courage to say “I don’t know.”
It is unfortunate that many young people ask each other advice about important things like spiritual matters and “relationships.” Instead of asking someone with knowledge, they seek advice from someone who does not have enough experience to be of any benefit to them.
The Bible has something to say about this, “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luk 6:39)
Offering advice about serious matters is a grave sin, because you become responsible for the behaviour of the person to whom you are giving the advice. Of course if someone is asking you about homework or something like that, you have to give advice. But if your best friend tells you, about a person who is interested in him/her and what to do about it, don’t start coaching your friend in something serious like this, because if this leads to sin, you will be held responsible.
Again if someone tells you he/she is using drugs, or smoking or masturbating, urge him/her to seek advice of his/her priest, rather than trying to help him/her, since you, yourself are in need for someone to help you with your own problems. You can encourage that person, by saying, “You know, I had a similar problem, and I went to Abouna, and he guided me out of this problem.”
One thing you can do to help your friend, is to pray for him/her a lot. Write his/her name on a piece of paper and give it to Abouna to put it on the altar and ask him to pray for this person.
Sometimes the problem is so serious that I feel Abouna should know about it. But, what about the solemn promise I gave to my friend to keep the secret? One thing you can do is to tell Abouna that this is a confession you are making to him. This way he cannot mention that information to anyone, including the person who asked you. Abouna will pray for this person and ask God to guide him in how to approach this problem without divulging the information you gave him.

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