Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

self_accusation

12 Entries

... When thou seest anyone rapacious, covetous, and not chastened, then do thou unfold thine own conscience; reckon up thine own life, go over the sins which have been committed and thou shalt learn rightly that in thine own case first, it is not expedient to be chastened for each of thy sins: for on this account the majority make reckless utterances, since they do not look on their own case before that of others, but we all leaving our own alone, examine that of the rest. St John Chrysostom, Homily I. That Demons Do Not Govern the World, http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-09/npnf1-09-26.htm#P986_658615



A brother asked Abba Ammonas, "Give me a word," and the old man replied, "Go, make your thoughts like those of the evildoers who are in prison. For they are always asking when the magistrate will come, awaiting him in anxiety. Even so the monk ought to give himself at all times to accusing his own soul, saying, ‘Unhappy wretch that I am. How shall I stand before the judgement seat of Christ? What shall I say in my defense?’ If you give yourself continually to this, you may be saved." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 25-28

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

If ... the spirit that rules over the evil demons and passions rises up against you, do not desert your place (cf. Eccles. 10:4) - that is to say, do not leave any part of your soul or body unwatched. In this way you will master the evil spirits that assail you and you will boldly present yourself to Him who examines hearts and minds (cf. Ps. 7:9); and He will not scrutinize you, for you will have already scrutinized yourself. As St. Paul says, 'If we judged ourselves we would not be judged' (I Cor. 11:31). St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 9, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 339)

If you feel that hatred has overwhelmed you, remain silent. Say nothing until, by ceaseless prayer and self-recrimination, you have calmed your heart. Counsels of Venerable St. Hilarion (Ponomarev) of Optina

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

Let us always accuse ourselves: for victory consists precisely of this. As for the resolve to go away into the desert, as the Fathers said, there are three conditions, which if anyone observes, he can live both among people and in the deserts, and wherever he might go, namely: to reproach oneself, to leave one’s own will behind him, and to consider oneself lower than all creatures. And let it be known to your love, that all the efforts of the devil are directed towards separating us from each other; for he clearly sees that the word of Scripture is fulfilled upon us: “brother being helped by brother, as a city firm and well-defended” (Proverbs 18:19). May the Lord not permit him to fulfill his will in us, but may He crush him, according to the unlying word of Scripture, “swiftly under our feet” (Romans 16:20). “Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life,” trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back empty' to our bosom. Martyrius of Edessa, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the SpiritualLife

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back empty' to our bosom. St. Symeon the New Theologian

Should you accuse and condemn yourself before God for the sins on your conscience, you will be justified for doing so. Counsels of the Optina Elder Moses (Putilov)

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

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





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