Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


50 Entries

Keep your mind from malicious thoughts of your neighbors, knowing that such thoughts are hurled by diabolical power, to keep your mind from your own sins and from seeking God. Our Holy Father Elias of Egypt, November 3, Prologue

When we judge our brother, we censure ourselves in a great sin. When therefore, we shield our brother, God will also shield us from great sins. When we uncover our brother, we drive off the grace of God from over us and we are given over to fall into the same things, so that we learn that we are all weak and the grace of God carries us. Whoever guards his tongue, that one guards his soul from great sins and falls. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

2. If something pushes you to criticism about some business or other of a brother or of a monastery, you, rather, try to pray about the matter, without passing it under judgment of your reason. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

3. Be attentive, my child, that you not judge any soul. For God steps aside from the one who judges his neighbor, and he falls, in order to learn to have sympathy for his sick brother. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

4. Do not judge one another, for you transgress the evangelical law, and "every transgression and disobedience received a just retribution" (Heb. 2:2). "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?" (Rom. 14:4). Do you not know that the one who passes judgment goes astray through pride, and that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (Luke 14:11) by the Lord, when temptation seizes him? REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

My children, avoid criticism -- a very great sin. God is grieved whenever we criticize and loathe people. Let us concern ourselves only with our own faults -- for these let us feel pain; let us criticize ourselves and then we will find mercy and grace from God. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

Did you see that brother who was negligent and lazy, who did not go down to the all-night vigils and did not do his duties, whom the brothers knew and held to be a negligent brother? When, therefore, he became sick and the hour of his death drew near, the brothers gathered to hear something beneficial, or to comfort him, or in case he wanted to say something to them, but they saw him rejoicing, cheerful.

One brother was scandalized and said, But what do we see in you, brother? We see you rejoicing, while you approach death? But our thought says to us that you were not a violent man and how do you have this courage and this rejoicing face? On what do you base this thing?

Yes, brothers, he said, really 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 criticize any brother and not to scandalize anyone; and never did I allow my heart to have something against my brother of the monastery when the sun set. And inasmuch as I did not judge my brother, I believe that God will not judge me, even me, for He said, Judge not, that you not be judged (Mt. 7:1); and as long as I did not judge, I will not be judged.

The brothers marveled and said, Brother, very easily you found the way of salvation. And the brother died with much joy. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

A brother who shared a lodging with other brothers asked Abba Bessarion, "What should I do?" The old man replied, "Keep silence and do not compare yourself with others." Venerable Bessarion the Egyptian, commemorated 6 June

Abba Ammonas came one day to eat in a place where there was a monk of evil repute. Now it happened that a woman came and entered the cell of the brother of evil reputation. The dwellers in that place, having learnt this, were troubled and gathered together to chase the brother from his cell. Knowing that Bishop Ammonas was in the place, they asked him to join them. When the brother in question learnt this, he hid the woman in a large cask.

The crowd of monks came the place. Now Abba Ammonas saw the position clearly but for the sake of God he kept the secret; he entered, seated himself on the cask and commanded the cell to be searched. Then when the monks had searched everywhere without finding the woman, Abba Ammonas said, "What is this? May God forgive you!" After praying, he made everyone go out, then taking the brother by the hand he said, "Brother, be on your guard." With these words, he withdrew. Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 25-28

An old man said to a brother: Do not measure your heart against your brother, saying that you are more serious or more continent or more understanding than he. But be obedient to the grace of God, in the spirit of poverty, and in charity unfeigned. The efforts of a man swollen with vanity are futile. It is written, "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he falls." In your spirit be seasoned with salt -- and so be dependent upon Christ. The Desert Fathers

Batiushka [affectionate term for “Father”] said regarding condemnation and criticism of other’s faults and sins: “You need to pay such close attention to your own internal life, that you not focus on what is happening around you. Then you will not condemn.” Elder Amvrossy of Optina

Batiushka said regarding condemnation and criticism of other’s faults and sins: “You need to pay such close attention to your own internal life, that you not focus on what is happening around you. Then you will not condemn.” Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. St. Philo of Alexandria

CAT"1corinthians10-12 Abba Or used to say this, "Do not speak in your heart against your brother like this: 'I am a man of more sober and austere life than he is,' but put yourself in subjection to the grace of Christ, in the spirit of poverty and genuine charity, or you will be overcome by the spirit of vainglory and lose all you have gained. For it is written in the Scriptures: 'Let him who stands take heed lest he fall.' (I Corinthians 10:12) Let your salvation be founded in the Lord." "The Lives of the Desert Fathers," trans. by Normal Russell, (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 63-64

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.

Commemoration of an Uncondemning Monk.

This monk died joyfully because he had never in his life condemned anyone. He was lazy, careless, disinclined to prayer, but throughout his entire life he had never judged anyone. And when he lay dying, he was full of joy. The brethren asked him how he could die so joyfully with all his sins, and he replied: 'I have just seen the angels, and they showed me a page with all my many sins. I said to them: "The Lord said: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.' I have never judged anyone and I hope in the mercy of God, that He will not judge me." And the angels tore up the sheet of paper.' Hearing this, the monks wondered at it and learned from it. Prologue from Ochrid April 12 / March 30 (Julian Calendar)

Consider well my soul: Dost thou fast? Then despise not thy neighbor. Dost thou abstain from food? Condemn not thy brother. Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins. - "The Lenten Triodion"

Do not condemn today as base and wicked the man whom yesterday you praised as good and virtuous, changing love to hatred, because he has criticized you, but even though you are still full of resentment, commend him as before, and you will soon recover your same saving love St.Maximos, Text 27

Do not condemn, even if you see with your eyes, for they are often deceived. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 10: On Slander or Calumny

Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbors expense or chatter to a person who likes finding fault. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 58)

Do not pass judgement when you give advice,for you know not God's mysteries. St.Ephraim the Syrian

Even if a person’s sin is not only obvious, but very grievous and comes from a hardened and unrepentant heart, do not condemn him, but raise your eyes to the wondrous and incomprehensible judgments of God; then you will see that many people, formerly full of iniquity, later repented and reached a high degree of sanctity, and that, on the other hand, others, who were on a high level of perfection, fell into a deep abyss. Take care, lest you also suffer this calamity through judging others. Bishop Theophan the Recluse - Unseen Warfare

He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins... St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 55)

He who speaks dispassionately of his brother's sin does so either to correct him or to benefit another. If he speaks for any other reason, either to the brother himself or to another person, he speaks to abuse him or ridicule him. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 73)

He who sufficiently knows and judges himself has no time to judge others. Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

I suppose that it is sometimes better to fall oneself and rise, than to judge one's neighbor; because one who has sinned is incited to self-abasement and repentance, while he who judges one who has sinned becomes hardened in an illusion about himself and in pride. Therefore everyone must guard himself, as much as possible, so as not to judge. :Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

In truth, whatever we may suffer, we suffer it because of our sins. If the saints suffered, they suffered for God's name or to demonstrate their virtue for the benefit of many or to gain greater reward from God. As for us wretches, how can we say this? We sin like this daily and in seeking to satisfy our passion, we abandoned the right path, which the Fathers spoke about, that of self-accusation. Each one of us follows the wrong path, tries on every occasion to put the case against his brother and throw the burden of responsibility upon him. Each one of us is negligent and keeps nothing, but demands that our neighbor keeps the commandments. Abba Dorotheus, Practical Teaching on the Christian Life

It was said of Abba Arsenius that once when he was ill at Scetis, the priest came to take him to church and put him on a bed with a small pillow under his head. Now behold, and old man who was coming to see him, saw him lying on a bed with a little pillow under his head and he was shocked and said, "Is this really Abba Arsenius, this man lying down like this?"

The the priest took him aside and said to him, "In the village where you lived, what was your trade?" "I was a shepherd," he replied. "And how did you live?" "I had a very hard life." Then the priest said to him, "And how do you live in your cell now?" The other replied, "I am more comfortable." Then the priest said to him, "Do you see this Abba Arsenius? When he was in the world he was the guardian of the emperor, surrounded by thousands of slaves with golden girdles, all wearing collars of gold and garments of silk. Beneath him were spread rich coverings. While you were in the world as a shepherd you did not enjoy even the comforts you now have, but he no longer enjoys the delicate life he led in the world. So you are comforted while he is afflicted."

At these words, the old man was filled with compunction and prostrated himself saying, "Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. Truly the way this man follows is the way of truth, for it leads to humility, while mine leads to comfort." So the old man withdrew, edified. The Desert Fathers

Love sinners, but hate their works, and do not despise them for their faults, lest you be tempted by the same. Remember that you share the earthly nature of Adam and that you are clothed with his infirmity. St. Isaac the Syrian

Love sinners, but hate their works, and do not despise them for their faults, lest you be tempted by the same. Remember that you share the earthly nature of Adam and that you are clothed with his infirmity. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Never allow yourself boldly to judge your neighbor; judge and condemn no one, ... rather have compassion and pity for him, but let his example be a lesson in humility to you; realizing that you too are extremely weak and as easily moved to sin as dust on the road, say to yourself: 'He fell today, but tomorrow I shall fall.' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 19)

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

Since the enemy watches you constantly, waiting for an opportunity to sow evil in you, be doubly watchful over yourself, lest you fall in the nets spread for you. As soon as he shows you some fault in your neighbor, hasten to repel this thought, lest it take root in you and grow. Cast it out, so that no trace is left in you, and replace it by the thought of the good qualities you know your neighbor to possess, or of those people generally should have. If you still feel the impulse to pass judgment, add to this the truth that you are given no authority for this and that the moment you assume this authority you thereby make yourself worthy of judgment and condemnation, not before powerless men, but before God, the all-powerful Judge of all. Bishop Theophan the Recluse - Unseen Warfare

St. Paul ... says, ... 'By judging another you condemn yourself' (Rom. 2:1). But men have given up weeping for their own sins and have taken judgment away from the Son. They themselves judge and condemn one another as if they were sinless. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 54)

The Lord’s most important commandments are “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”. Moreover, those desirous of salvation should always keep in mind the words of St. Peter Damascene, that creation takes place between fear and hope. Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

The Lord’s most important commandments are “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”. Moreover, those desirous of salvation should always keep in mind the words of St. Peter Damascene, that creation takes place between fear and hope. Spiritual Counsels of Holy Elder Amvrossy of Optina #

This reversal of thoughts is the strongest means, not only for repelling accidental critical thoughts, but also for completely freeing yourself of this vice… Bishop Theophan the Recluse - Unseen Warfare

Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shortcomings of their neighbor but always their own and they set about eliminating them. Such was the man who saw his brother doing wrong and groaned, `Woe is me; him today-me tomorrow!' You see his caution? You see the preparedness of his mind? How he swiftly foresaw how to avoid judging his brother? When he said `me tomorrow' he aroused his fear of sinning, and by this he increased his caution about avoiding those sins which he was likely to commit, and so he escaped judging his neighbor; and he did not stop at this, but put himself below his brother, saying, `He has repented for his sin but I do not always repent. I am never first to ask for forgiveness and I am never completely converted.' St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

To bear a grudge and pray, means to sow seed on the sea and expect a harvest. St. Isaac of Syria

We should look upon each believer alike, and suppose that Christ abides in each; we must have such loving disposition towards him as to be ready to lay down our life for him. We should never think or say that someone is evil, but, as is said, should see everyone as good. If you see someone attacked by passions, hate not the brother but the passions attacking him. And when you see someone succumbing to the tyranny of lusts and bad habits, have a still greater compassion for him, lest you suffer a similar temptation - since you are changeable and under the influence of changeable matter. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 61, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 110)

When we see sinners we must always weep for ourselves first over their failure. Perhaps we have fallen in the same way; or we can fall, if we haven't yet. And if the judgment of the teaching office must always eradicate vices by the power of discipline, we must nevertheless make careful distinctions: we should be uncompromising about vice, but compassionate to human nature. If a sinner has to be punished, a neighbor has to be supported. When he has nullified what he has done by his repentance, our neighbor is no longer a sinner. With the righteousness of God he turns against himself, and what the divine righteousness reproves he punishes in himself. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies

When you go to your spiritual father for confession, do not bring yourself as an accuser of other people, saying, "he said this," and "so-and-so said that". . . but speak about your own doings, so that you may obtain forgiveness. Elder Daniel of Kantounakia

Wherefore a man can know nothing about the judgments of God. He alone is the One Who takes account of all and is able to judge the hearts of each one of us, as He alone is our Master. Truly it happens that a man may do a certain thing (which seems to be wrong) out of simplicity, and there may be something about it which makes more amends to God than your whole life; how are you going to sit in judgment and constrict your own soul? And should it happen that he has fallen away, how do you know how much and how well he fought, how much blood he sweated before he did it? Perhaps so little fault can be found in him that God can look on his action as if it were just, for God looks on his labor and all the struggle he had before he did it, and has pity on him. And you know this, and what God has spared him for, are you going to condemn him for, and ruin your own soul? And how do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin, but you do not know about the repentance. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

Your past and present torments and sufferings are poured down upon you to test your faith and 'steel' it; they also work to curb your lusts and passions. Humble yourself. God gives help to the humble. Judgment of others, insistence on their shortcomings, can only increase the bitterness of your sorrow. Choose the better part. Elder Macarius of Optina

Do not disdain those who are handicapped from birth, because all of us will go to the grave equally privileged. St Isaac of Syria

Love sinners, but hate their works; and do not despise them for their faults, lest you be tempted by the same trespasses. St Isaac of Syria

"Do not judge and do not belittle anyone, because from this the heart grows faint and the mind is blinded, and from this, negligence appears and unfeelingness of heart is born. Keep ceaseless vigil, learning in the law of God, for through this the heart is warmed by heavenly fire, as is said: 'In my meditation a fire was kindled'." St. Barsanuphius

Do not rail against anyone, but rather say ‘God knows each one.’ Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander and do not hate him who slanders his neighbor. This is what it means not to judge.” St. Moses the Ethiopian

Through the things that bring him pleasure, he (man) is made humble and grateful; through trials and temptations his hope in the world to come is consolidated; in both he rejoices, and naturally and spontaneously he loves God and all men as his benefactors. He finds nothing in the whole of creation that can harm him . The Philokalia, Vol. III - pp. 260 - 263.

Then we say: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Brothers, praying thus, we should very much fear lest the Lord reply to these words of our prayer: "The judgments you give are the judgments you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given." And you who ask this, see whether you did to no one what you did not want done to you. Therefore before we hear these words of the Lord, brethren, let us first examine our hearts as to whether we are with justice asking of the Lord what we have not denied to those asking us. We ask that our trespasses be forgiven us. God hears and He wants to forgive us, but only if we first pardon those who ask us to do likewise. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

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