Tag Archives: repentance

Wings or the woodworm.

“An offspring of [the sin of] pride is censure, which is unfortunately also a habit of many Christians, who tend to concern themselves more with others than themselves. This is a phenomenon of our time and of a society that pushes people into a continuous observation of others, and not of the self.

“Modern man’s myriad occupations and activities do not want him to ever remain alone to study, to contemplate, to pray, to attain self-awareness, self critique, self-control and to be reminded of death. The so-called Mass Media are incessantly preoccupied with scandal-seeking, persistently and at length, with human passions, with sins, with others’ misdemeanors. These kinds of things provoke, impress, and, even if they do not scandalize, they nevertheless burden the soul and the mind with filth and ugliness and they actually reassure us, by making us believe that ‘we are better’ than those advertised.

“Thus, a person becomes accustomed to the mediocrity, the tepidity and the transience of superficial day-to-day life, never comparing himself to saints and heroes. This is how censure prevails in our time – by giving man the impression that he is justly imposing a kind of cleansing, by mud-slinging at others, albeit contaminating himself by generating malice, hatred, hostility, resentfulness, envy and frigidity. Saint Maximos the Confessor in fact states that the one who constantly scrutinizes others’ sins, or judges his brothers based on suspicion only, has not even begun to repent, nor has he begun any research into discovering his own sins.”

-Monk Moses of Holy Mount Athos

I thought I would re-publish a few posts from the early days of my blog, say ten years ago, such as the quote above from Monk Moses, also known as Elder Moses the Athonite. I ran across a video of him talking about humility, and noticed that I’d also commented on it back then, about how helpful it was. I followed my own recommendation and listened once more. Oh, yes. The elder seems to emanate the joy and meekness that he talks about; I’m so glad I watched again, and got reacquainted. His words come alive through the sweetness of his countenance, especially when he is quoting Scripture or a saint, which he does quite a bit for such a short video.

In it he warns us that pride “like a woodworm eats away at the whole trunk” of our life, but humility begets “joy that has to do with internal calm, sobriety and serenity, that gives the sweetness and redemption of Christ.”

“Humility’s the guard dog of all the other virtues, and humility, says St. Basil the Great, is the raiment of the Godhead. Out of His extreme humility Christ came down, abandoned the glory of the heavens, and became the least of all people.”

“Humility and love, as St. Kosmas Aitolos says, are the two wings that fly us straight to heaven.”

I hope you will watch this video and through it meet Father Moses yourself:

“Humility, the Foundation of all Virtues.”

Tears on our wedding robe.

There are many kinds of tears, and it is important to discriminate between them.

So writes Bishop Kallistos Ware in The Inner Kingdom, in a chapter on “The Orthodox Experience of Repentance.” He has much to say about tears, which requires seven paragraphs, and I include this one sentence as a means of introducing the fact that in the Orthodox understanding, tears are a great and even necessary gift. Being reminded, I read the chapter’s closing paragraphs with a new perspective:

John Climacus 1
St. John Climacus

Filled with grief yet at the same time filled with joy, repentance expresses the creative tension found at all times in the Christian life on this earth, and described with such vividness by St. Paul: “…always carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body…dying, and behold we live…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 4:10; 6:9-10).

As a life of continual repentance, our Christian discipleship is a sharing at one and the same time in Gethsemane and the Transfiguration, in the Cross and the Resurrection. St John Climacus sums the matter up by saying, “If you put on blessed and grace-filled mourning as a wedding robe, you will know the spiritual laughter of the soul.”

Things that have no true existence.

St. John the Forerunner

“The sweet work of repentance
that is set before us as followers of Christ,
is nothing other than the return to reality.”

“How we feel about many things has this same make-believe quality. We find certain styles of clothing and certain products (cars, houses, etc.) attractive and desirable, but often with little more than subjective reasons for our desires. The power of this make-believe is so great that it is well-known that many people “go shopping” to battle depression. It is a strange therapy.”

Read the rest of the article by Father Stephen Freeman here: “The Unreal Land” — about the real cause of so much of our grief and misery in everyday life, “a ceaseless struggle with things that have no true existence.”

When I look around his blog I always find plenty to provoke my thoughts in a good direction. His book Everywhere Present puts a lot of this food for the soul together in one nourishing bowl.

(re-post from 2011)