Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You Hurt My Feelings!

Once again, Fr. Joseph Huneycutt posted something that resonated deeply with me. I needed to read this, and read it with that detached self-understanding that I blogged about recently. I'm going to cut and paste this here so that I won't lose it and can read it again when I need reminding. This is Orthodixie's September 17th blog entry.


Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, cessation of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.– John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent (LDA), p.87.

Whenever we become obsessed by some past event in which we perceive that we have been wronged, we give the devil ample opportunity to lead us toward greater temptation. We forget that our warfare is not with each other! We are to engage in spiritual warfare against the Enemy of our salvation and his willing hosts, the demons. When we remember wrongs we fall prey to the Father of Lies and engage in combat with our fellow brothers and sisters.

St John of Kronstadt writes:“The Devil cunningly induces us – instead of irritating us against himself – to notice our neighbors' sins, to make us spiteful and angry with others, and to awaken our contempt towards them, thus keeping us in enmity with our neighbors, and with the Lord God Himself. Therefore, we must despise the sins, the faults themselves, and not our brother who commits them at the Devil’s instigation, through infirmity and habit; we must pity him, and gently and lovingly instruct him, as one who forgets himself, or who is sick, as a prisoner and the slave of his sin. But our animosity, our anger towards the sinner only increases his sickness, oblivion, and spiritual bondage, instead of lessening them; besides this, it make us ourselves like madmen, or sick men, the prisoners of our own passions, and of the Devil, who is the author of them” [My Life in Christ (MLC), p.166].

The victory over this plague, remembrance of wrongs, is true repentance and a sincere struggle to love.

“The forgetting of wrongs is a sign of true repentance. But he who dwells on them and thinks that he is repenting is like a man who thinks he is running while he is really sleeping” [LDA, p.89].

“He who has obtained love has banished revenge; but he who nurses enmities stores up for himself untimely labours” [LDA, p.87].

How true! We can expend a great amount of energy in being, and remaining, mad at someone. Nursing enmities gives birth to sleeplessness, mental and emotional preoccupation, thoughts of evil, and worse. True love, God-pleasing love, bears the sweet fruits of repentance, forgiveness, compassion, and charity.

"True love willingly bears privations, troubles, and labours; endures offenses, humiliations, defeats, sins, and injustices, if they do not harm others; bears patiently and meekly the baseness and malice of others, leaving judgment to the all-seeing God, the righteous Judge, and praying that He may teach those who are darkened by senseless passions” [MLC, p.236] .

May we be vigilant in our repentance, our forgetting of wrongs and “hurt feelings.” Let us put aside our weapons used for mutual destruction and embrace the Love that is Christ in order to do God-pleasing warfare with the Enemy of our salvation.

Friday, September 08, 2006


"Christians should judge no one, neither an open harlot, nor sinners, nor dissolute people, but should look upon all with simplicity of soul and a pure eye. Purity of heart, indeed, consists in seeing sinful and weak men and having compassion for them and being merciful. "

Abba Macarius the Great.

"Practice self-observation. And if you want to benefit yourself and your fellow men, look at your own faults and not those of others. The Lord tells us: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged,' condemn not that ye be not condemned. And the Apostle Paul says: 'Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?'"

St. Arsenios of Paros, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 6

These words really hit me today. We all need to read these words with understanding and apply them to ourselves. Practicing self-observation is difficult. It requires us to put away our emotions, no matter how strong they are, step outside them and dispassionately considering the truth of our life. It requires us to seriously consider what those who love us tell us about ourselves. If what we believe to be true about ourselves constantly conflicts with what people who love us and want the best for us tell us, we owe it to ourselves to seriously consider the truth being told to us.

My spiritual father sometimes tells me things that are difficult to hear because he describes a person that I simply do not want to be. But, I owe it to myself, to him, and to those in my community, to step outside of my emotions and seriously consider what he tells me. When I was young, I couldn't do that, but as I matured, I became more able to do this, though there are times when it is very difficult. But I know that he has my best interests at heart, and that he loves me enough to tell me the truth. What a gift he is! I owe it to him to try to see things his way, instead of stubbornly clinging to my idealized ideas about myself. I've learned a lot by doing this.... I've been able to begin the process of decluttering myself, in a manner of speaking, and not just myself, but get rid of the useless or unprofitable flotsam and jetsam accumulated over 51 years of living.

Sometimes I think of what a sculptor friend told me years ago. He said that the work of art, the final sculpture, exists within the stone and has since the earth was created. Its his job, as the sculptor, to remove everything that is not the work of art. What is left is what God had intended the stone to be. Isn't this the perfect metaphor for the spiritual struggle we are all engaged in?

It difficult, this weeding away of that which is not necessary. Sometimes unprofitable things and habits and even people have to be chipped out.

But the end result will be beautiful.

Thanks to Orthodox Pilgrim http://www.xanga.com/OrthodoxPilgrim for the quotes.