31. May, 2016

Sage Advice

Sage advice 

 

A reading from the colloquies of St Dorotheus

False peace of soul

Whenever some sort of inconvenience or trouble of any kind happens to one who is ready to find fault with himself, he bears it with a smile, considers that he deserves it and so is not in the least put out by it. Who could be more peaceful than such a person?

Perhaps someone will object, 'But what if a brother vex me and after examining myself I find that I have given him no cause, how then can I blame myself?'

But surely if a person were to examine himself carefully in the light of the fear of God he will never find that he is blameless. He will see that he has provided an occasion by some action or word or attitude. Even if a one finds himself guiltless in all these ways at the present time, it is quite likely that at some other time he has vexed his brother the very same deed or by some other. Or he may have upset another brother. Hence he deservedly suffers for that sin or for many other sins that he has committed elsewhere.

Another may ask why he should accuse himself when he has been sitting in peace and quiet and a brother has come up and upset him with some hurtful or insulting word. Since he is not going to put up with, that he feels that it is reasonable for him to be annoyed and upset. For, if the not intruded and spoken and made trouble he would not have sinned.

This is indeed ridiculous and it is bad logic. Surely that brother did not inject the passion of anger into him by saying what he did? Rather he revealed the passion already within him, so that if he so wishes he may repent of it. This brother is like early wheat, outwardly bright and shining and when his crushed its rottenness appears.

So this man who sits in peace and quiet as he thinks, has within him a passion he does not see. One hurtful word spoken by another who happens by and immediately all the poison and rottenness within gushes out. If he wishes to gain mercy let him repent and purify himself and make serious efforts to do better and he will see that instead of insults he should give thanks to that brother as one responsible for bringing him such a benefit. Temptations will not trouble him so much in the future because the more he progresses the easier he will be able to handle them. For as the soul advances it becomes stronger and better able to put up with whatever hardships may come its way.

 

A reading from The Interior Castle by St Teresa of Avila

Let us look at our own faults and leave aside those of others, for it is very characteristic of persons with such well-ordered lives to be shocked by everything. Perhaps we could truly learn from the one who shocks us what is most important though we may surpass him in external composure and way of dealing with others. Although good, these latter things are not what is most important; nor is there any reason to desire that everyone follow at once our own path, or to set about teaching the way of the spirit to someone who perhaps doesn’t know what such a thing is. For with these desires that God gives us, Sisters, about the good of souls, we can make many mistakes. So it is better to carry out what our rule says, to strive to live always in silence and hope, for the Lord will take care of these souls. If we ourselves are not negligent in beseeching His Majesty to do so, we shall, with His favor, do much good. May He be blessed forever.

 

Comments: I love these readings. In the ninth week of ordinary time the Church reflects on two readings from the colloquies of St Dorotheus. The first is summed up as follows: The reason for all disturbance is that no one blames themselves. The second reading (above) contrasts those who do find fault within themselves—and hence, peace—and those who find a false peace in blaming others for their own problems. The reading from St Teresa of Avila is a personal favourite. It came to mind as it continues the theme of looking inwardly for the root cause of our problems.

Taken further, and according to the doctrine of St John of the Cross, the more we come to know God, the more we will find fault with(in) ourselves. The conclusion should follow that we are all weak, imperfect and at fault in one way or another, hence we should bear the burden of one another (as St Paul suggests).