By Elder Paisius the Athonite
Children should be very attentive in the matter of respecting their parents. When children do not respect their parents and are impertinent towards them, then, first of all, they are deprived of grace and secondly, they become the receptors of demonic influences and energy.
A certain layman said to the elder: “Father, my parents are constantly whining and I can barely tolerate it. What should I do?”
- Well, my blessed one, when you were in your crib, you whined day and night. At that time they took you in their arms and caressed you with great tenderness and love. Would you have liked it, if they had decided to send you to some educational institution so that they could have some rest? God’s truth is now giving you a chance - to some degree - to repay your debt to your parents by treating them in a way similar to the way they had once treated you, - replied the elder.
Many people cannot tolerate trials, but complain constantly. Some even include their parents in this intolerance. And in what way are the parents to blame? People give to their descendants that which they can give as human beings. They give them flesh. And the soul is given by God. And thus let us assume that God creates man through man. So how are the parents guilty when a child is born handicapped?
Do as much good as possible for your grandparents! Most helpful of all, in my opinion, is our spiritual flourishing. When we flourish spiritually, then we help our family members extraordinarily. First of all, because they then receive the right to divine aid. When a person truly shows himself to be virtuous, - then the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers become justified. Secondly, the prayers of a true Christian have great power: our ancestors are helped in this respect, too. But even simply the joy which our ancestors feel as they take pride in us, - this joy is not insignificant! And, conversely, when we live badly, when we turn away from God and do not keep His commandments, then they, our poor ancestors, struggle and suffer… “It would be better for them not to be born!”
Let each one put himself in the place of another. Unfortunately, the prevailing spirit that reigns among us today demands that we seize our place by force, and not have any sympathy towards others. When we put ourselves in the place of others, then everything goes well. For example: if a young woman were to put herself in the place of her old mother-in-law, and were to think that quite soon she herself would become a mother-in-law, and that if her own daughter-in-law would not want to help her and would speak harshly with her, - would she not treat her old mother-in-law with all manner of politeness? You should know that if we do not behave in a spiritual manner, then spiritual laws will go into action. And the following will happen: God will take away His love from the heartless person, in order to make him pay in his life what he owes.
A certain layman complained to the elder about the difficulties he experienced with his family due to his parents’ grumbling, his wife’s oddities and his children’s horrendous behavior.
The elder saw things in a different light: “God allows us to experience difficulties as payment for our own ugly behavior in childhood. We are upset with grandfather and grandmother (our father and mother), but we have forgotten how upset they used to be with us when we were little. We no longer remember how because of us they had no time to sleep or to rest, because they lived in constant worries and concern over us. Now it is our turn to put up with their elderly grumbling and to take care of our parents with the same affection with which they surrounded us in our infancy. God finally gives us the opportunity to ‘cancel out’ our infantile whining. And this is just. If we do not agree to this, we will remain forever in debt. By the way, we suffer from our wives and children in order to pay for our own sins.”
Do not be upset if you have inherited defects, but also do not pride yourself upon inherited virtues, because God will judge the effort each individual has applied towards correcting his inherited nature.