On the island of Symi, which belongs to Greece, in the monastery of the Greek order there is an icon of Saint Michael Archangel famous for its acts of grace. The icon has been found on the island according to a legend. The male figure in the painting combines paradoxical features: sensitivity and confidence, gentleness and strength, tenderness and decisiveness. It is not easy for a real life man to combine these features: usually men are either sensitive and helpless, or strong and insensitive. The contemplation of the icon may help to get out from this impasse of helplessness.
Let us think about what are sensitivity and confidence. Is it possible to combine these seemingly contradictory features of character? Many men treat sensitivity as a weakness and try to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, sensitivity is a good quality and enriches the personality of a man. A sensitive man can have compassion for another person, he becomes empathetic. A properly formed sensitivity is this mans characteristics which allow a man to overcome lifes difficulties. Men deprived of sensitivity hurt other people. Sensitivity is not emotional insecurity. It has nothing to do with giving way to moodiness, with oversensitivity, faintheartedness and the lack of trust. Sensitivity does not imply helplessness, taking on the role of a victim or of a hen packed husband.
Confidence allows men to be on firm ground. He makes brave and responsible decisions while remaining in the state of internal freedom. Confidence consists in the authentic independence from the judgment of an entire world. A man convinced about his self-worth is not afraid of his self-assessment or of the assessment by the community, and, he makes contacts with others without fear. He is stable, standing strong, he is on a firm ground in reality and he can stand against others when unjustly attacked. He can also stand against others in the right fight to protect other people. Real confidence has nothing to do with the desire to make an impression on somebody, with self-assuredness or with boasting about ones accomplishments like a peacock. Neither does it aim at constant domination over others.
This painting is important for everybody and especially for a man because it constitutes a representation of manliness. Saint Michael, support us in our attempt to become real men strong and sensitive at the same time.
Fr. Dariusz Lewandowski