Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

negligence

8 Entries

Negligence is a terrible conspirator against our lives and has wronged me many times, and I never case to regard it as our most implacable enemy. The Elder's fervor in protecting us from it and his profound experience of the craft and intricate ways in which it confuses and entangles its victims makes it imperative for us to say something about this enemy of ours.

In the language of the Fathers this is called listlessness (acedia) as well as negligence and sloth, which all mean the same thing -- spiritual death. We shall not go into what the Fathers have said about this pestilence, except that it is included among the eight evil thoughts as a comprehensive vice. We shall simply give helpful extracts from the Elder's experience, which are of particular use in our own generation. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198



When we asked about the chief cause of man's failure in his spiritual purpose, he would reply that it was negligence. On one occasion I asked him how it was that the Fathers give self- esteem as the reason, and he replied, "Yes, that conspires against us too; but not all of us, only those it deceives. And again it affects only a few, because self-esteem corrupts treasures that have been amassed, while negligence does not even let you collect them. Negligence is like a drought in which nothing grows. Self-esteem damages those who have fruit, who have made some progress; whereas negligence harms everyone, because it impedes those who want to make a start, it stops those who have advanced, it does not allow the ignorant to learn, it prevents those who have gone astray from returning, it does not permit the fallen to get up -- in general, negligence spells destruction for all those it holds captive. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

"Using the pretext of physical needs and weariness from the struggle, this deceiver makes itself credible; and like a conductive material, listlessness transmits us and hands us over to self-love, the more general enemy. Only a courageous soul grounded in faith and hope in God can overthrow this conspiracy. Otherwise, it is difficult for someone inexperienced to escape from these nets. This is a great ordeal for those who live alone and for everyone who avoids a regulated life, whereas it is unable to harm those who are under obedience and have tasks to perform. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

As a cure for negligence, the Elder recommended eschatological meditation in ascending and descending form; reward and punishment, the Kingdom of heaven and hell; and also calling to mind the honorable memory of those who have taken part in the struggle. The means of grace against negligence are prayer, tears and faith. Again, the Elder would recount many examples from the lives of earlier spiritual warriors who happened to be led astray by negligence and lost the record of spiritual progress which they had gained through great fervor and ascetic labor. The Elder would say, "In my opinion, the other passions into which spiritual warriors are led astray are complications of indifference, because this erodes our attention and so opens the way to related and connected passions, and these take man captive. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

Abba Poemon said, "As long as the food which is being boiled is on the fire the flies will not approach it, but as soon as it is taken off they cluster round it." The meaning of this is that as long as our hearts are fervent in the spirit, impure thoughts will not approach us, but that if we are negligent and make ourselves to be remote from the occupation of the spirit, they will then gain dominion over us. The Sayings of the Holy Fathers. Vol. II of The Paradise of the Fathers,translated by E. A. Wallis-Budge

Have you realized that the world and worldly cares do not hinder in fulfilling God's commandments, when there is zeal and attention? That silence and retirement from the world are useless, if laziness and negligence prevail?" St. Simeon the New Theologian (On Faith, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart ; Faber and Faber pg. 147):

It is, indeed, impossible for the mind not to be troubled by thoughts, but accepting them or rejecting them is possible for everyone who makes an effort...therefore we practice the frequent reading of Scripture, so that we may be open to a spiritual point of view. For this reason we frequently chant the psalms, so that we may continually grow in compunction. For this reason we are diligent in vigils, fasting, and praying, so that the mind which has been stretched to its limits may not taste earthly things but contemplate heavenly ones. When these things cease because negligence has crept in again, then, it is inevitable that the mind, by the accumulated filth of the vices, will soon turn in a carnal direction and fall... St. John Cassian

With pain and tears you will receive grace, and again with tears and joy and thanksgiving, with fear of God you will keep it. With zeal it is drawn. With coldness and negligence it is lost. Elder Joseph the Hagiorite (+1959)





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