Apodusōmetha

st-nilus

Ἀποδυσώμεθα, παρακαλῶ, πάντα· γυμνὸς γὰρ ἕστηκεν ὁ ἀντίπαλος· μὴ γὰρ οἱ ἀθλοῦντες ἐνδεδυμένοι ἀθλοῦσι; γυμνοὺς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ στάδιον ὁ ἀθλητικὸς εἰσάγει νόμος· κἂν θάλπος, ἢ κἂν κρυμός, οὕτως εἰσέρχονται τὰς ἐσθῆτας ἔξω καταλιμπάνοντες· εἰδέ τις αὐτῶν παραιτήσεται τὴν γύμνωσιν, καὶ τὸν ἀγῶνα παρῃτήσατο· ἡμεῖς δὲ ἀθλεῖν ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, καὶ πρὸς ἀντιπάλους πολὺ τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἐντρεχεστέρους ἀγωνιζόμενοι, οὐ μόνον οὐκ ἀπεδυσάμεθα, ἀλλὰ καὶ μυρία κατὰ τῶν ὤμων φορτία φέροντες ἐπιχειροῦμεν ἀθλεῖν, πολλὰς τοῖς ἀντιπάλοις καθ’ ἑαυτῶν παρέχοντες τὰς λαβάς. πῶς γὰρ πυκτεύσει πρὸς “τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας”, ὁ κτημάτων ἀντιποιούμενος πάντοθεν εὐχερῶς κονδυλιζόμενος; πῶς δὲ τῷ τῆς φιλαργυρίας παλαίσει πνεύματι, ὁ περικεχωσμένος τοῖς χρήμασι; πῶς δὲ δραμεῖται πρὸς τοὺς πάσης μερίμνης γυμνοὺς δαίμονας ὁ μυρίαις φροντίσιν ἐνδεδυμένος; τῆς θείας λεγούσης Γραφῆς, “ὁ γυμνὸς διώξεται ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ”· ὁ γυμνος, οὐχ ὁ κτημάτων καὶ χρημάτων πολυΰλοις πρὸς τὸν δρόμον ἐμποδιζόμενος λογισμοῖς· δυσάλωτος γάρ, ἢ καὶ ἀνάλωτος, τοῖς ἐπιβουλεύουσιν ἐστὶν ὁ γυμνός.
(Nilus the Elder, Logos Asketikos p. 135 (Philokalia ed. 1893))

Let us strip ourselves of everything, since our adversary stands before us stripped. Do athletes compete with their clothes on ? No, the rules require them to enter the stadium naked. Whether it is warm or cold, that is how they enter, leaving their clothes outside; and if anyone refuses to strip, he excludes himself from the contest. Now we too claim to be athletes, and we are struggling against opponents far more skilful than any that are visible. Yet, instead of stripping ourselves, we try to engage in the contest while carrying countless burdens on our shoulders, thus giving our opponents many chances of getting a grip on us. How can someone encumbered with material possessions contend against ‘spiritual wickedness’ (Eph. 6 : 12), since he is vulnerable from every angle? How can someone weighed down with wealth wrestle with the demon of avarice? How can someone clothed in worldly preoccupations race against demons stripped of every care? Holy Scripture says, ‘The naked shall run swiftly in that day’ (Amos 2 : 16. LXX) – the naked, not the one who is hindered in running by thoughts about money and material possessions. A naked person is hard or even impossible to catch.
(tr. G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware)

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