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Attaining Victory in the World - H.E. Metropolitan Kyrillos of Milan

To the Youth of Austria

Delivered December 5, 2015

In Commemoration of the Fortieth Day of His Departure

September 23, 2017

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – One God, Amen.

Your Grace, thank you for allowing me to see these beautiful young men and women.

I will speak to you today about how to be victorious in the world. In the world we face much warfare. The world has a prince, and this prince is Satan. Satan has an intricate system, like those of large companies. You are able to visit a company’s website, enter a product, and see whether it is carried by the company and at which location. You can visit Ikea’s website, search for a bed, and learn whether it is carried at the Ikea store here in Vienna, or in the store at Graz, or at Klagenfurt. Satan has a similar system. He has a system connecting the computer, the media, and the internet. He controls theaters, smoking, music, news outlets, and inappropriate places.

A young man can enter Satan’s company through drinking. Then he will gradually bring his friend to the bar to drink. Then he will bring his friend to the brothel, or the club. A huge system, and this same system exists here in Vienna, and in Milan, Canada and America, and in the villages – everywhere. Satan gradually comes to influence a young man or woman, and expands his network through this new member, to reach the member’s friends, colleagues, and family.

God gave us a commandment that we hear in church every day, except for Holy Week. 360 days a year we hear it: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world…”[1] What does this mean? What is the world? Is it the earth which God created?

The Holy Bible uses “the world” to mean at least three things. Sometimes it means “the earth,” or “the creation.” Other times, it means “humanity.” But in other instances, “the world” means this system of Satan that we have been discussing. This is what we are talking about today.

Satan is responsible for this interconnected system we find in the world. He moves people to enmity; he leads nations to wage war on one another. He leads people astray; he guides young people to drunkenness and theft. He influences the boy or girl, as he or she gets older, to think: “Mom and dad do not think how our generation thinks. They are outdated, and don’t know anything. I know better. I’ll move out, I can’t stand them.” These are all components of this system of Satan.

God tells us that this system is what we call “the world,” which is why Jesus says: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”[2] Could this possibly mean humanity? Of course not! But it is this system: the worldly way of thinking, the worldly pursuits, and desires.

Which is why, at the end of the Catholic Epistle, we all hear: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world, for the world passes away and all its lust…” If you want to overcome, and have victory over Satan, you must realize that you have to hate this system and avoid it at all costs.

Suppose someone loves to drink alcohol. He begins with one sip, then one sip becomes two. Soon, he becomes intoxicated, and no longer knows what he is doing or where he is. He becomes powerless when it comes to this substance. A tobacco addict begins with one cigarette, which becomes two, which becomes a pack, then two, and finally he becomes a slave to smoking, unable to resist this sin.

When God tells us to “not love the world, nor the things in the world,” he is telling us to totally avoid anything that takes us away from God.

There is a verse that is both beautiful and frightening: “Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time.”[3] Can you really die before your time? The one who smokes and destroys his lungs dies before his time. The one who gets drunk and destroys his liver and his stomach dies before his time. The one who walks in sin and adultery, who cannot establish a holy family and a blessed household that would bless the earth with children to God because he is immersed in lust, destroys his life and dies before his time from sexually transmitted diseases and other related evils.

God wanted to tell us how to overcome. He said: “My beloved, here is how you will overcome: do not love the world, and avoid its system at all costs.” Do not walk a path that will lead to destruction. Especially when we are young, we think that the way of the world is easy and pleasurable, and much more attractive than the asceticism and requirements of the life with God. But we do not realize that at the end of that easy road is death and destruction. It is an easy path, but its end is death.

Our hands have five fingers each, and I will tell you five things that will help you overcome and live with God. You can associate these with your fingers, to help you remember them.

First: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.”

Do not love the system of Satan. But love one another! The love of people is different from the love of the world. I love you, and I love that you are successful. You can have a successful career, a good income, and much goodness. This does not mean that you love the world. So firstly, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.” Do not love this system of Satan; avoid his network.

Satan does not sleep. He strives unceasingly to ensnare all of us. Satan does not love God, he does not love Christ the Son of God, and he does not love the children of God. He hates us. We have a beautiful story in the Paradise of the Monks. Satan came to Abba Macarius and told him: “I don’t know what to do with you. You stay awake, but I don’t sleep. You fast, but I do not eat. The only difference between us is that you are very humble. You are holding onto God, and I have no power over you.”

Second: Flee for your life.

Separate yourself from those people who love the world, and those who are children of Satan. Satan has children: those who do his will. The one who fills your ears and your mind with bad words is the child of Satan. The one who encourages you to visit sinful places is the child of Satan. But flee for your life.

I will tell you a beautiful story. The Holy Bible prescribed medicine to everyone who deviates from the path to life. What is this medicine?

God sent two angels to a man named Lot. They told him: “Lot, you live in a land full of evil. All of the inhabitants of this land are drowning in evil: adultery, sin, and deviant lifestyles.” God does not abide in a place of deviance and evil. He cannot live there, he cannot stand the smell of evil. The angels came to Lot and said: “Lot, flee for your life, you and your children!” “How can I flee?” “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”[4] God even gave him the way; He gave him the medicine that would save his life. “I will give you a dose of medicine that will save you.” What is this dose? “Flee for your life.” Replace Lot’s name with your own name. “Kyrillos, flee for your life.” “Get out of this place!”[5] What do you mean “Get out of this place?” “This place” is the place where there are evil people, or where there are evil activities.

Suppose you go to school or the university, and you find a group of people you know. They tell you: “Let’s go to the club.” “What will we do there?” “Come on, you’re young, there’s nothing wrong with dancing. It’s just exercise: just some bodily movements.” And after you move your body this way and that, and she moves her body, and you both dance, what next? What are the emotions that are evoked? And what does it lead to? Then you’ll say: “There’s a bar here, let’s go have a drink while we dance.” And then two, and three. Then what? Soon, you will become habituated into clubbing, dancing, and drinking. And this “exercise” will cost you your holiness, your purity, and your life.

“Get out of this place.”[6] Where there is evil, or sin, get out of that place. The angels told Lot not to look back. To this extent? Yes! “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”[7] Your life is precious! If it were not, God would not have taken flesh. God would not have become man. He would not have come closer to me and taken my hand and asked me to come follow Him. You are precious to God.

Third: Learn to say “no.”

But don’t say “no” to mom and dad and your priests, and say “Anba Kyrillos told me to say no.” No! Say no to evil, to sin; to Satan and those who advocate for his ends.

There was once a young boy whose friends tried to encourage him to go to a cinema on their way home from school one day. He told them: “No. I’m not going.” They said to him: “Why? Just call your mom and tell her.” He said: “No. My mom tells me not to go to the cinema, and she tells me no for my own good. What my parents taught me, I will do. It is for my own good.”

Your heavenly Father tells you “no” as well. “Do not lie,” “Do not steal,” “Do not commit adultery.” Say “no.” When your friends try to influence you to do evil, stand firmly and say “no.” Train yourself to resist. When you open your computer and your electronic devices, say “no” to sinful websites and unchristian scenes. Train yourself to feel God’s presence with you. When you feel His presence, you will find it impossible to watch anything sinful in His presence. When you say “no” for His sake, He will be the one to strengthen you. No one who has said “no” for the name of Christ has ever been abandoned by Christ.

There were three famous young men, your age, who did this: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three were young, and they were taken bound with chains to Nebuchadnezzar as prisoners. And with them was Daniel the prophet. Those three young men drove the king crazy. He gave them work in his palace; he taught them the language, and gave them new names and ranks. Then someone told the king that these three young men did not live like everyone else in food and drink and prayer and everything else. So he called for them, and told them: “If you don’t worship this big statute, watch what we’ll do to you.” They could have taken the easy way out, but they said “no.” This same “no,” I’m telling you about. “We’ll torture you, we’ll strengthen the fire and throw you in!” “Still, no. We will only worship God. What we received from our homes, we will not abandon.” They were young men. They were thrown in the fire, but remember what happened? One like the Son of God was with them in the fire, and he protected them from the fire. Those who threw them in were killed by the heat. But these three were unharmed. They said “no” to evil, so the Son of God was with them.

So firstly, “Do not love the world, nor the things of the world.” Secondly, flee for your life. Thirdly, say “no.” We have two fingers left!

Fourth: Develop friendships with those who know Christ, and who love the person of Christ.

If you do not find holy friends where you live, open the Holy Bible, and you will find friends there who loved Christ and who were victorious. Have friendships with those who are role models, with those who love Christ. And if you find none of these, open the Holy Bible and say, for example: “Today, I will open Genesis, and I will read chapters 37 to 50 to get to know Joseph the Righteous.” This young man who had beauty and power and intellect and love for God. He lived according to God’s commandments many years before Moses, such that “Do not commit adultery” was already in his heart when he resisted the wife of Potiphar and preserved his purity, saying: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”[8] He did not see God physically, but He loved Him and knew Him.

Keep holy friendships. Be strong and wise in your dealings with your friends, male and female. Be strong and wise when you use electronic media. Why send unholy pictures, or look at unholy scenes? Look at your brothers and sisters with purity. Deal with them with edification and holiness. Live according to the spirit of Christ. Friendship is important, but only if your friends and your group love God and live in holiness.

If I am wearing a white outfit, and I touch a newly-painted wall, my outfit will become stained. Even if you are pure, if you interact with uncleanness, you will become unclean. If you deal with good people, you will become good. If you deal with evil people, you will be evil. The Holy Bible says: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”[9] If you bring a basket of good apples and put one bad apple in their midst, all will become rotten. You know the saying: “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” If you sit with unholy people, you will become unholy. If you spend your time with peaceful people, you will become peaceful.

When Peter the apostle was in the courtyard during Christ’s trial, they said: “This is one of them;”[10] and then again: “Surely you are one of them…”[11] He looks like one of Christ’s disciples, he acts like one, he sounds like one. Why? Because he was a friend of Christ, and spent his time with Him.

Search for good friends. Spend your time on websites that teach you about Christ. But beware of those sites that look religious but will lead you to doubt and deviate. You can spend a few minutes on these sites and become confused.

So “Do not love the world, nor anything of the world,” flee for your life from evil and sin, say no to the worldly things and worldly places, and develop holy friendships.

Finally: Realize that Christ loves you.

He searches for you. Not only does He love you, but He is also with you. If you call for Him, He will be with you. If you do not call Him, and then you don’t find Him, don’t blame Him.

Our Lord said to His children: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”[12] “I am with you in elementary school, in middle school, in high school, in college, in marriage, in middle age, in old age, in career, in hardships, in success, in failure, in everything.”

Abba Arsenius said: “If we seek God, He will appear to us; and if we hold on to Him, He will abide with us.”[13] When you call to God, He hears you. Can the Creator of the ear not hear you? But call to Him with all your heart. He is with you, searching for you. He longs for you to come to Him.

When I say the Psalm “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord,”[14] sometimes I think: “How can I say to God, ‘Out of the depths I have cried to you?’” Maybe it is God calling to me from the depths: “Out of the depths I have cried to you, Kyrillos.” Out of the depths, He is calling you and me: “Come, you are beautiful! Be careful, you are about to sin: your features that I love will begin to change, your true beauty will begin to disappear. Why let your beauty disappear?” If Christ is in my life, I will keep all goodness in myself and preserve my true beauty and will continue to increase in beauty and goodness.

So, there are five things: first, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world,” and this “world” is the system of Satan; second, flee for your life, by not standing where evil is, and not looking back; third, say “no” to evil and sin; fourth, develop holy friendships with those who love Christ and who have attained to victory; fifth, Christ loves you and me, He is searching for us.

The more you think about these points, the more you will find to think about.

Thank you and thank you to His Grace for allowing me to see you and take your blessing.

[1] 1 John 2:15 [2] Mark 8:36 [3] Ecclesiastes 7:17 [4] Genesis 19:17 [5] Genesis 19:14 [6] Ibid. [7] Genesis 19:17 [8] Genesis 39:9 [9] 1 Corinthians 15:33 [10] Mark 14:69 [11] Mark 14:70 [12] Matthew 28:20 [13] Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Arsenius 10 [14] Psalm 130:1

This translation by Anthony & Andrew Doss was first shared by Fr. Bishoy L. Mikhail on August 14, 2018:


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