Ep.25 (Week 6 of Lent / Mary of Egypt/ Sex Addiction)

Ep.25 (Week 6 of Lent / Mary of Egypt/ Sex Addiction)


(Sretensky Monastery choir sings Ps 33/34): I will bless the Lord at every time, His praise will always be on my lips… Hello. I’m Sr. Vassa, and I’m having my coffee here
in Vienna, in Austria. It is the 6th week of Lent,
which means we have almost reached the very end of the long fasting period. (drilling noise in background) Please excuse the construction noises you might be hearing during this episode.
You see, we’re having a room prepared upstairs for our Greek costume designer, Emilios, who, as I mentioned in our last episode, is
being released from jail next week. (drilling noise in background) This week begins with the Sunday of St Mary of Egypt, one
of the most beloved saints of the Christian East. And her story is
an amazing one, because she was a sex addict, who, by the
grace of God, recovered from her addiction and became a powerful vessel
the Holy Spirit. This is her story. Saint Mary was born in Egypt in the late fifth century, and at age 12 she ran away from home and went to the
city of Alexandria, where she began to lead a very
promiscuous life on the streets, having sex with anybody
who agreed to have sex with her. She was not a prostitute, because she
took no money for this. And it wasn’t because she had money. In
fact, she lived in great poverty. But she took no money, because this way,
more people would agree to have sex with her. You see, she was an addict. One day she
attached herself to a group of men who were boarding a ship headed for
Jerusalem for the feast at the Elevation of the
Cross (on Sept. 14), to venerate the Cross. She saw this as an opportunity to have many partners along the way, and
offered her body as pay for the fare. So on the ship, and
also in Jerusalem, Mary seduced many people, and, as she told
the story later – with great shame – some even against their
will. When it came time for the feast of the
Elevation in Jerusalem, she noticed everybody going into the
Church of the Resurrection, where the Cross was kept. And she also
tried to enter the church with a crowd of
people, but suddenly, some invisible force was blocking her
way, so she alone could not enter the church.
Every time she tried, she alone was pushed back. Finally, exhausted after many attempts to enter
the church, she backed away into a corner near the entrance, and
started thinking: Why is this happening? And suddenly she was
struck with an overwhelming sense of grief and shame, as the thought came to her that it was
her way of life that blocked her from entrance into a holy place. She began to weep (music plays: Arvo Pärt’s “Adam’s Lament”) and after a while she noticed an icon of the
Mother of God near the entrance. And she started
praying to the Holy Virgin, saying, “Please, Mother of God, help me, and be my guide, and I will start a new life. Just show me the
way!” After this, Mary of Egypt was not only
able to enter the church and venerate the Cross, but she was guided
by the Mother of God to first go toward the River Jordan; to go to a church there, where she received
Holy Communion; and then to cross the River Jordan into
the Jordanian Desert, and to begin an ascetic life. Now, for
17 years – the first 17 years – in the desert, Mary of Egypt had to fight the fiercest desires, and vivid memories of her sexual experiences. She also missed the
taste of wine; she could sometimes hear enticing music
that she had enjoyed in Alexandria (Music: The Cars “Let the good times roll”). And all these things, these compulsions that she had, to return
to her old life, would really torment her, and then she
would ask for help, and she would prostrate herself to the ground many times. And when she did so, and asked help, especially of the Mother of God, she
would suddenly feel that she was enveloped in light, and the
compulsions would leave her. Now, after 17 years of this repeated battle, she found
complete peace. She was discovered in the desert, after she had spent 47 years
there, by an old monk named Zosima or Zosimas, who had been disturbed by thoughts, prior
to this, that he himself was very accomplished in
the ascetic life. And God revealed to him this woman that
became like an angel, and that he actually hadn’t accomplished as much she did. Because he saw her not only walk on water across the Jordan, but it was also
revealed to him, while she was praying, that she was
elevated above the ground. And she also showed him that she could
read his thoughts: she knew his name before he introduced
himself, and so on. And, despite all that, she had great
humility. But we have to cut our story short,
unfortunately, because we would like to say a few more words about addiction. (Music plays: Avicii sings “I’m addicted to you”) This story presents us with a wealth of topics, like
the power of repentance, and the role of the Mother of God in our
lives. But we will talk today about the power of addiction. And by that
I mean, a clearly-defined obsession with one
thing, to the point that we are powerless
against it, even when it begins to destroy us. In the life of Mary of Egypt, we see that addiction
turned out to be a gift. Her journey of addiction and the
ensuing battle against it brought her to the knowledge of God, and to
profound self-knowledge. You could say that for Mary, like for any
addict, the path of salvation is simple, although
it’s not easy. You can compare it to the simple
situation of Adam and Eve in paradise: there was just one thing they couldn’t touch: the Tree of
Knowledge. And by not touching that one thing, they could have paradise. So, for Mary, her addiction, you could say,
was her “tree of knowledge.” And she gained
paradise by taking it on (=overcoming it), by the grace of God, and with much help from
another Woman, the “Blessed among women,” the Holy
Virgin. So, the story of Mary of Egypt also shows
us that we can’t battle addiction alone. Today, people don’t usually battle addictions
in the Jordanian Desert, but those who do successfully overcome
addictions – and many people do overcome addictions –
depend on: 1. the grace of God; and 2. the help of
other people, in various 12-step programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous), where recovering addicts, – those who are already recovering and
accomplished in their recovery, – help other, less experienced addicts. So, if we do suffer from addiction of any kind, we
should not hesitate to reach out to God, and to others who can help us. Because the
addiction could open doors for us; doors to God and to
self-knowledge. As it says in Romans 8:28: “We know that ALL things work together for
good to those who love God.” (Music: The Beatles sing “All you need is love”) That’s it for today, ladies and gentlemen! St. Mary of Egypt! Thank you.

15 comments

  1. There are alot of addictions and passions that need to be over come, and cured and healed by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The help of other programs help if one truly set their minds and hearts on it.

  2. I have watched every episode that you have made and I have loved them all! I hope you will continue to share your wisdom with us for a long time…may God bless you and keep you!

  3. Hi Sr Vassa , where can i find the music you have by the introduction? I heard something similar in the video on icons by Metropolitan Kallistos.

  4. The way you conduct your videos, Sister, reminds me of how Brother Nathanael handles his videos. ☦️

  5. Check out Katina Topic St.Mary of Egypt for an astounding folk song recounting the life of this saint.

  6. I’m currently learning about orthodoxy and I do enjoy a lot of parts about it but the one thing that really bothers me…especially in this story is her crying out to Mary and not to the Lord. I want to join the Orthodox Church but I want to have focus on Christ and not calling on saints…if that makes any sense? Is there something that I’m over looking by not seeing that most orthodox (just in my opinion) seem to focus on saints and their help than the mediator Jesus Christ? These are honest questions and I hope you can help me out Sr. Vassa. Thank you.

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