St-Gregory-the-DialogistContinued from here….

On Job 11:13-15.

So that ‘the face may be lifted up in prayer without spot,’ before the seasons of prayer everything that can possibly be reproved in the act of prayer ought to be heedfully looked into.

And the mind, when it stays from prayer as well, should hasten to shew itself such as it desires to appear to the Judge in the very season of prayer.

For we often harbour some impure or forbidden thoughts in the mind, when we are disengaged from our prayers.

And when the mind has lifted itself up to the exercises of prayer, being made to recoil, it is subject to images of the things whereby it was of it own free will previously burdened whilst unemployed.

And the soul is now as it were without ability to lift up the face to God, in that, with the mind being blotted within, it blushes at the stains of polluted thought.

Oftentimes we are ready to busy ourselves with the concerns of the world, and when after such things we apply ourselves to the business of prayer, the mind cannot lift itself to heavenly things, in that the load of earthly solicitude has sunk it down below, and the face is not shewn pure in prayer, in that it is stained by the mire of grovelling imagination.

Sometimes we rid the heart of every encumbrance, and set ourselves against the forbidden motions thereof, even at such time as we are disengaged from prayer.

Yet because we ourselves commit sins but seldom, we are the more backward in letting go the offences of others, and in proportion as our mind the more anxiously dreads to sin, the more unsparingly it abhors the injuries done to itself by another.

Whence it is brought to pass that a man is found slow to grant pardon in the same degree that, by going on advancing, he has become heedful against the commission of sin.

And, as he fears himself to transgress against another, he claims to punish the more severely the transgression that is done against himself.

But what can be discovered worse than this spot of bitterness [doloris], which in the sight of the Judge does not stain charity, but kills it outright?

For every sin stains the life of the soul, but bitterness maintained against our neighbour slays it. For it is fixed in the soul like a sword, and the very hidden parts of the bowels are gored by the point thereof; and if it be not first drawn out of the pierced heart, no whit of divine aid is won in prayer.

For the medicines of health cannot be applied to the wounded limbs, unless the iron be first withdrawn from the wound.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 10, 29-30 (on Job 11:13-15) @ Lectionary Central [slightly adapted].