An Irish Welcome

Céad Míle Fáilte friend and rover ...
Wherever you come from and whosoever you may be.
That's an Irish greeting and it means

you are welcome
a thousand times over.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Criticism

On Condemnation

Love one another, and do not be embittered out of egotism. Humility is a sure guide; it does not let the one who posesses it hit the reefs of carelessness and be shipwrecked, but as a luminous guide it leads him faultlessly on sure ground.
Egotism is the most evil of evils; it causes all our lapses through unsubmissive thoughts. Fear this and strive to get rid of it, for the more it remains within us, the more it will wound us with the proportionate pain.
I beg that you not criticize one another, for this is downright egotism. Excuse your brother's fault; this is evidence of humility and love. The brother who acts thus will find much grace from God, but he who judges and scandalizes his neighbor should know that not only will he not find grace, but even if he has something he will lose it, so that he may learn the lesson of humility through suffering.

Be particularly afraid of inner criticism, that is, thoughts of criticism, because it does not come to light through the spoken word, in which case it is likely to be corrected by someone who hears it. Be careful, I say, about criticism from within, which imperceptibly makes us fatally guilty and deprives us of the life of divine grace and offers as a most bitter drink the death of the soul. 

I pray that love and freedom from criticism will reign in every expression among you, so that the Holy Spirit may rest in your souls.

* * *
Experience has shown that it is wrong to accuse and condemn someone without letting him defend himself. As also the sacred Gospel says: "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" (Jn. 7:51)

If we are not attentive, many sins of condemning others heap up within us, and then repentance is needed. How often a person repents because he spoke! Let us bear in mind the words of Abba Arsenios: "I have often repented for speaking, but I have never repented for keeping silent."
If we are often deceived by the sense of touch, how much more so we are by people's words. Therefore, much attention is needed, for the devil prowls around roaring to devour us. (1 Pet. 5:8). A Christian ought to be like the many-eyed Cherubim, for evil has multiplied greatly, especially the sin of condemnation, which is as common as "bread and cheese." May God cleanse us and sanctify us for His glory.
"Do not let the sun go down on the wrath of your brother." (Eph. 4:26). That is, let no one be angry and enraged against his brother past the setting of the sun.

Have you heard about that brother who was negligent and lazy, who did not go to the all-night vigils and did not do his duties, whom the brethren knew to be a negligent monk? When he fell ill and the hour of his death drew near, the brethren gathered to hear something beneficial, or to comfort him, or in case he wanted to say something to them, but they saw him joyful, cheerful. One brother was scandalized and said, "What is this we see in you, brother?" We see that you are joyful even though you are approaching death. But we have the thought that you were not a violent monk (A "violent" or "forceful" monk or person is one who strives vigorously to "do violence to his nature constantly" (Ladder 1:4), for "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (Mt. 11:12)), so how do you have such courage and a cheerful face? How do you justify yourself?" "Yes, brethren," he said, "indeed I was a negligent person and I did not fulfill my duties. But I achieved one good thing, by the grace of God: not to condemn any brother and not to scandalize anyone; and never did I let my heart have something against any brother of the monastery when the sun set. And inasmuch as I did not judge any brother, I believe that God will not judge me either, for He said, 'Judge not, that you be not judged' (Mt. 7:1) and since I did not judge, I will not be judged." The brethren marveled and said, "Brother, you found the way of salvation very easily." And the brother died with much joy. Do you see how the Fathers struggled and how they found the way of salvation?

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