Once during the early days of my priesthood, an old man, whom I had never met before, came to me and asked to make confession. He whispered in great embarrassment that for the first time in his life he had committed adultery. I interpreted that to mean that he had looked at a woman and thought of her in a way that would be considered adulterous. Nevertheless, he assured me that he had physically committed that sin which is something that I had never imagined anyone would do.
Feeling very bitter and broken-hearted about this story, I went and narrated it to an elderly priest, who was also a dear friend, who happened to be visiting Alexandria at the time. Seeing me visibly shaken, he said,
“Do you know why God sent you this fallen old man? He wants you to learn several lessons at this early stage of your priesthood. First: don’t trust your body even in your old age, or even if you’re a priest. You must always be careful and on your guard. Second: Don’t judge a fallen youth harshly. Sin is powerful and knows no age limits. You must constantly support and encourage young men throughout their struggle to overcome sin.”
Your grace is my support
* How great is my need for Your grace to support me!
Which support prevents me from falling.
I will neither rely on my past experience,
Nor on purity that I had previously lived,
Nor on any position that I may have in church.
Your grace, and Your grace alone, will protect and immunise me.
Many have fallen - strong, great, and elderly.
Help me to complete my sojourn in this world in peace.
Open my heart with the love that will help me understand all young men,
And that will enable me to support and encourage them all,
Without judging anyone, whatever their sins are,
Since I am their partner in human weakness.
A Trivial Sin
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