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[James 1:1–8; Mark 10:11–16] With what love the Lord treated children! Who doesn’t treat them with love? The longer one lives, the more one loves children. In them is seen freshness of life, cleanness and purity of disposition, which cannot but be loved. Looking at the innocence of childhood, some suppose that there is no original sin, that each person falls himself when he comes of age and meets with im moral urges, which, it seems to him, he does not have the strength to overcome. Everyone falls himself, yet the original sin nevertheless is present. Apostle Paul sees in us the law of sin, warring against the law of the mind. This law, like a seed, at first is as if not visible, but then is revealed and entices. Those who are born of lepers do not manifest leprosy until a certain age, but then it is revealed, and begins to con sume them just as it did their par ents. Where was the leprosy before this time? It was hiding within. So does the original sin hide until the time, and then comes out and does its business. Environment means a lot for both suppressing this sin and revealing it. If there were no sinful elements all around, there would be nothing with which to feed this hid den sin, and perhaps it would dry up of its own. But herein is our sor row: that all around there is very much favourable food for it. There is much sin in every person as well as in society; but all of this does not necessarily determine that we will sin. Sin is always a matter of free dom — struggle and you will not fall. Only he who does not want to struggle falls. Why do we not want to struggle? There are no regula tions concerning desire and lack of desire: I want to, because I want to; and I don’t want to, because I don’t want to. Self-rule is the original principle — one cannot go beyond it.
Saint Theophan the Recluse