A pilgrim traveled for days to make his confession to priest at a monastery known for its holiness and piety. The pilgrim made his confession. After several moments of silence, the priest began to offer him counsel:
“You think that you have just made a good confession. The truth is that rather than confessing the root causes of your sins, you have confessed mere trivialities.”
The priest continued, “Turning my gaze at myself and attentively observing my life, I am convinced through experience of four things:
Firstly, I do not love God. I think about worldly things with great eagerness, while thoughts of God come with great difficulty. It is hard for me to pray and when I do I try to find the littlest excuse to cut my time of prayer short. In useless occupations I pay no attention to time; but when I think about God, an hour seems like a year.
Secondly, I do not love my neighbor. If I loved my neighbor as myself as the Gospel commands, his misfortune would sadden me and his prosperity would bring me great joy. On the contrary, I listen with curiosity to accounts of my neighbor’s misfortunes and seem to find satisfaction in them. Most of the time, I am either completely indifferent to my neighbor or I am jealous of him.
Thirdly, I do not have faith in spiritual realities. I believe neither in immortality nor in the Gospel. If I did, then I would be constantly preoccupied with it. Instead, I am eager to give up studying Scripture promptly in favor of worldly things in which I have greater interest and from which I get more satisfaction.”
“Finally” the priest concluded, “I am full of pride and self love. When I see something good in myself, I wish to display it or brag about it to others. I am vain about my talents and cannot accept failure. In a word, I constantly make an idol of myself to whom I give unceasing service.”