John Climacus: The Forgetting of Wrongs is a Sign of True Repentance Monday, Mar 24 2014 

ClimacusThe holy virtues are like Jacob’s ladder, and the unholy vices are like the chains that fell from the chief Apostle Peter.

For the virtues, leading from one to another, bear him who chooses them up to Heaven; but the vices by their nature beget and stifle one another.

And as we have just heard senseless anger calling remembrance of wrongs its own offspring, it is appropriate that we should now say something about this.

Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind.

Remembrance of wrongs is shame of prayer, stopping of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul.

Remembrance of wrongs is pleasureless feeling beloved in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.

This dark and hateful passion, I mean remembrance of wrongs, is one of those that are produced but have no offspring. That is why we do not intend to say much about it.

He who has put a stop to anger has also destroyed remembrance of wrongs; because childbirth continues only while the father is alive.

He who has obtained love has banished revenge; but he who nurses enmities stores up for himself endless sufferings.

A banquet of love dispels hatred, and sincere gifts soothe a soul. But an ill-regulated banquet is the mother of boldness, and through the window of love gluttony leaps in.

I have seen hatred break the bond of long-standing fornication, and afterwards remembrance of wrongs, in an amazing way, did not allow the severed union to be renewed. Wonderful sight—a demon curing a demon! But perhaps this is the work not of demons but of Divine Providence.

Remembrance of wrongs is far from strong natural love, but fornication easily comes near it, just as a hidden louse can sometimes be seen in a dove.

[…] Remembrance of wrongs is an interpreter of Scripture of the kind that adjusts the words of the Spirit to its own views. Let it be put to shame by the Prayer of Jesus.

[…] The remembrance of Jesus’ sufferings cures remembrance of wrongs which is mightily shamed by His forbearance.

Worms grow in a rotten tree, and malice finds a place in falsely meek and silent people. He who has cast it out has found forgiveness, but he who sticks to it is deprived of mercy.

[…] The forgetting of wrongs is a sign of true repentance. But he who dwells on them and thinks that he is repenting is like a man who thinks he is running while he is really asleep.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 9 “on remembrance of wrongs”, 1-8, 10, 14-15, 17-15, 17, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

John Climacus: If the Holy Spirit is Peace of Soul, and if Anger is Disturbance of Heart… Saturday, Mar 15 2014 

ClimacusIf it is a mark of extreme meekness even in the presence of one’s offender to be peacefully and lovingly disposed towards him in one’s heart, then it is certainly a mark of hot temper when a person continues to quarrel and rage against his (absent) offender both by words and gestures, even when by himself.

If the Holy Spirit is peace of soul, as He is said to be, and as He is in reality, and if anger is disturbance of heart, as it actually is and as it is said to be, then nothing so prevents His presence in us as anger.

Though we know very many intolerable fruits of anger, we have only found one, its involuntary offspring, which, though illegitimate, is nevertheless useful.

I have seen people flaring up madly and vomiting their long-stored malice, who by their very passion were delivered from passion, and who have obtained from their offender either penitence or an explanation of the long standing grievance.

I have seen others who seemed to show a brute patience, but who were nourishing resentment within them under the cover of silence. And I considered them more pitiable than those given to raving, because they were driving away the holy white Dove with black gall. We need great care in dealing with this snake; for it too, like the snake of physical impurities, has nature collaborating with it.

[…] Sometimes singing, in moderation, successfully relieves the temper. But sometimes, if untimely and immoderate, it lends itself to the lure of pleasure. Let us then appoint definite times for this, and so make good use of it.

[…] It is bad to disturb the eye of the heart by anger, according to him who said: ‘My eye is troubled from anger.’ But it is still worse to show in words the turmoil of the soul.

[…] If you want, or rather intend, to take a splinter out of another person, then do not hack at it with a stick instead of a lancet for you will only drive it deeper. And this is a stick—rude speech and rough gestures. And this is a lancet—tempered instruction and patient reprimand. ‘Reprove,’ says the Apostle, ‘rebuke, exhort,’ but he did not say ‘beat’.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 8 “on freedom from anger and on meekness”, 13-15, 17, 19-20, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

John Climacus: At the Fragrance of Humility All Anger and Bitterness Vanishes Thursday, Mar 6 2014 

ClimacusFreedom from anger, or placidity, is an insatiable appetite for dishonour, just as in the vainglorious there is an unbounded desire for praise.

Freedom from anger is victory over nature and insensibility to insults, acquired by struggles and sweat.

Meekness is an immovable state of soul which remains unaffected whether in evil report or in good report, in dishonour or in praise.

The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated;

the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul;

and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds.

Anger is a reminder of hidden hatred, that is to say, remembrance of wrongs.

Anger is a desire for the injury of the one who has provoked you.

Irascibility is the untimely blazing up of the heart.

Bitterness is a movement of displeasure seated in the soul.

Peevishness is a changeable movement of one’s disposition and disorder of soul.

As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats, so at the fragrance of humility all anger and bitterness vanishes.

Some who are prone to anger are neglectful of the healing and cure of this passion.

But these unhappy people do not give a thought to him who said: ‘The moment of his anger is his fall’ (Ecclesiasticus 1:22).

There is a quick movement of a millstone which in one moment grinds and does away with more spiritual grain and fruit than another crushes in a whole day.

And so we must, with understanding, pay attention. It is possible to have such a blaze of flame, suddenly fanned by a strong wind, as will ruin the field of the heart more than a lingering flame.

And we ought not to forget, my friends, that the wicked demons sometimes suddenly leave us, so that we may neglect our strong passions as of little importance, and then become incurably sick.

As a hard stone with sharp corners has all its sharpness and hard formation crushed by knocking and rubbing against other stones, and is made round, and in the same way a sharp and curt soul, by living in community and mixing with hard, hot-tempered men, undergoes one of two things:

either it cures its wound by its patience, or by retiring it will certainly discover its weakness, its cowardly flight making this clear to it as in a mirror.

An angry person is a wilful epileptic, who on a casual pretext keeps breaking out and falling down.

Nothing is so inappropriate to penitents as an agitated spirit, because conversion requires great humility, and anger is a sign of every kind of presumption.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 8 “on freedom from anger and on meekness”, 2-12, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

Nil Sorsky: Love and Forgiveness Saturday, Feb 22 2014 

Nil_SorskyIf we’re troubled by anger and it urges us to consider an injury and to return with interest the damage that someone has inflicted on us, then we should think upon the words of the Lord, Who said:

“For unless you forgive people their trespasses, Your Father will not forgive you yours” (Matth. 6, 15).

It follows, therefore, that people who want their sins to be forgiven are obliged first and foremost to forgive others with all their heart.

Because this is how God has taught us to seek forgiveness for our own transgressions. And if we don’t forgive, it’s obvious that our sins won’t be forgiven.

[…] This is why we should never become angry, nor do any harm to our fellow human beings, not only with words and deeds, but even by changing the way we look at them. Because we can disdain others merely by a look, according to the Fathers.

The perfect victory over thoughts of anger is to pray for the person who has provoked them, as Abba Dorotheos advises when he says:

“God, help my brother, and through his prayers have mercy upon me, sinner that I am. Because to pray for other people means love and affection, and to ask for their prayers means humility”.

We should even do them good, as far as we can, because then we’ll be carrying out the commandment of God that says: “Love your enemies… do well to those who hate you and pray for those who trouble you and persecute you” (Matth. 5, 44).

To those who live by this, the Lord has promised not only the Kingdom of Heaven, some sort of rest or a gift such as those we have in the present, but the very inheritance of adoption, because He says: “Thus you will become children of your father who is in heaven” (Matth. 5, 45).

And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who instituted this commandment and promised this great recompense, carried out everything He taught, giving us Himself as an example, so that we might imitate Him, insofar as we can.

How many punishments did He endure from the Jews for us sinners, and not only did He refrain from anger, but prayed for them to His heavenly Father saying: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke, 23, 24).

In the same way, all the saints walked this path and acquired divine grace, returning good to their persecutors instead of evil. They also prayed for them and covered the sins they saw them committing and taught them with sincerity and affection.

Nil Sorsky (Russian Orthodox; c. 1433–1508): The Passions of Avarice, Anger, Sorrow and Sloth @ Pemptousia.

Dorotheus of Gaza: Like rotten bread, externally good, inwardly all mouldy… Thursday, Sep 12 2013 

Dorotheos2Again there is the case of a man minding his own business, sitting at peace and quiet; and when a brother comes up and says an annoying word to him, he is put out by it.

And from the circumstances he thinks that he is justifiably angered, and he speaks against the one who troubled him, saying, “If he had not come and spoken to me and annoyed me I should not have been sinned.”

This is a diabolic delusion! Could it really be that the one who spoke a word to him put that passion into him? He only showed that it already existed in him; so that he could, if he chose, repent of it.

But the man referred to above is like rotten bread, externally good, but inwardly all mouldy, and when someone crushes it, its corruption is revealed.

He was sitting at peace, as we were saying, but he had this anger inside him and he did not know it. One word to him from the other and the corruption hidden inside him showed itself.

If, therefore, he wants to receive mercy, then let him repent, purify himself, and spiritually progress; let him see that he should rather thank that brother, who had been an occasion of spiritual help to him.

Temptations would no longer vanquish him in the same way, but in proportion to his advance in this custom he would find that they became easier to bear.

For to the degree that a soul advances it becomes stronger and has the power to bear anything that comes upon it.

In the same way, if your beast of burden is strong you put a heavy load on it and he carries it; if he does happen to stumble, he gets up quickly and doesn’t seem to notice his fall.

But if he is a sickly animal the same load weighs him down. If he falls down it takes a lot of help to get him up.

So it is with the soul: if it goes on sinning it becomes sickly. Sin makes a man sickly and he has become weak and unsound because of it, for sin weakens and undermines the strength of those who give themselves over to it.

Therefore the slightest thing that happens to him will weigh him down; but if a man is advancing all the time in goodness, what happens to him becomes less and less difficult to bear in proportion to the ground he has gained.

And so this habit of accusing ourselves will work out well for us and bring us peace and much profit, especially since nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 7 – How We Must Accuse Ourselves And Not Our Neighbours @ Pravoslavie.

John Chrysostom: To Forgive not Merely with the Lips, but from the Heart Tuesday, Nov 13 2012 

God requires two things of us here: to condemn ourselves for our sins, and to forgive others.

And we are to do the former for the sake of the latter, that this may become easier (for he who considers his own sins is more indulgent to his fellow-servant).

And we are to forgive not merely with the lips, but from the heart.

Let us not then thrust the sword into ourselves by being revengeful.

For what grief has he who has grieved you inflicted upon you which is as bad as that which you will work unto yourself by keeping your anger in mind, and drawing upon yourself the sentence from God to condemn you?

If you are watchful, and keep yourself under control, the evil will come round upon his head, and it will be he that will suffer harm.

But if you should carry on being indignant and displeased, then you yourself will undergo the harm – not from him, but from yourself.

Say not then that he insulted you, and slandered you, and did unto you ills beyond number; for the more you say, so much the more do you declare him a benefactor.

For he has given you an opportunity to wash away your sins – so that the greater the injuries he has done you, so much more has he become for you a cause of a greater remission of sins.

For if we be willing, no one shall be able to injure us, but even our enemies shall benefit us in the greatest degree.

And why do I speak of men? For what can be more wicked than the devil? Yet nevertheless, even hence have we a great opportunity of approving ourselves, as the case of Job shows us.

But if even the devil has become a cause of obtaining crowns, why are you afraid of a man as an enemy?

See then how much you gain, bearing meekly the spiteful acts of your enemies.

First and greatest, you obtain deliverance from sins;

secondly, fortitude and patience;

thirdly, mildness and benevolence;

[…] fourthly, to be free from anger continually, to which nothing can be equal.

For of him that is free from anger, it is quite clear that he is delivered also from the despondency arising from anger, and will not spend his life on vain labours and sorrows.

For he that does not know how to hate, likewise does not know how to grieve, but will enjoy pleasure, and ten thousand blessings.

Accordingly, we punish ourselves by hating others, even as on the other hand we benefit ourselves by loving them.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 61,5 on St Matthew’s Gospel.