Judge Not, Part 5 – Stories from the Desert

For the last blog of this series, I wanted to share a few stories from the Orthodox monastic fathers that illustrate the importance of not judging one another.

EXAMPLE 1

One day, Abba Isaac the Theban saw a brother committing a sin.  Abba Isaac judged and condemned the man in his heart.  Shortly thereafter, an angel stood before the Abba with the departed soul of the brother who sinned.  The angel asked, “Here is the person you have judged.  Where shall I send this man’s soul, to Hades or to Paradise?”  Abba Isaac fell to the ground, horrified, stating, “I have sinned, forgive me.”  The holy old man, frightened beyond measure, spent the rest of his life praying with sighs and tears and continuous hard work to be forgiven this sin even though the angel had told him he was forgiven.  Still, Abba Isaac carried the guilt of this sin with him until his dying day. [1] Continue reading Judge Not, Part 5 – Stories from the Desert

Judge Not, Part 4 – Holding Our Tongues

“That idiot needs to learn how to drive!” is something that I have certainly said or thought on multiple occasions while driving down the road.  Even if we hold our tongues, there are many situations in life that anger or annoy us and cause us to label a person an idiot, a jerk, or something else.

However, the fathers warn us of the danger of labeling someone with a derogatory word.  We must be careful to never sum up a human’s entire existence in one unkind thought or word, whether or not it seems justified.  Otherwise, we are condemning that person, which is a dangerous sin.

Condemning a man is saying, ‘he is a wicked liar, or he is an angry man, or he is a fornicator.’ For in this way one judges the condition of his soul and draws a conclusion about his whole life…This is a very serious thing.  For it is one thing to say, ‘He got mad,’ and another thing to say, ‘He is bad-tempered,’ and to reveal, as we said, the whole disposition of his life. [1]

Continue reading Judge Not, Part 4 – Holding Our Tongues

Judge Not, Part 3 – Our Upbringing

A TRUE STORY: Many centuries ago, there arrived a slave ship at a certain harbor in a city in which a pious Christian virgin lived.  Her desire was to purchase a young female slave in order to bring her up in love and the ways of God.  Purchasing another human sounds horrifying to our modern ears, but this woman was truly trying to prevent the young lady from enduring what could be a terrible fate at the hands of a merciless master.

The ship owner informed the woman he had two young girls, and the Christian lady purchased one of them.  She raised the young girl in a loving Christian home in which the household operated a bit like a monastery.

The other girl was purchased by someone who was sort of like a pimp.  He forced her to learn seductive dancing so that he could make money off of her by entertaining men.  Such was her fate. Continue reading Judge Not, Part 3 – Our Upbringing

The Desert Fathers on Judging and How to Treat Others

1024px-Righteous_Syncletica_of_Alexandria_(Menologion_of_Basil_II)If you have decided to embark on the journey of deepening your faith and your connection with God, you will probably meet resistance on the path of peace very soon.

Amma Theodora, one of the Desert Mothers taught the following:

You should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie*, faintheartedness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sickness, debility, weakening of the knees and all the members. It dissipates the strength of soul and body, so that one believes one is ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these temptations fall away.

I share that quote to encourage you to stay strong in this fight against evil. As soon as you decide you are going to attempt to live a life free of judging others, somebody will do something to annoy you, hurt you, or test you in some way. It is not that person’s fault, but rather it is God allowing your resolve to be tested. Continue reading The Desert Fathers on Judging and How to Treat Others

Judging Ourselves and Others

AN EXPLANATION

Elder PaisiosI recently wrote about the Restless Emptiness that so many of us feel.  As I mentioned before, the reason we feel restless and empty inside is because we have these alien tyrants called the “passions” ruling us from the throne of our hearts.

My recent posts have followed the same theme: diagnosing and finding the proper therapy for the emptiness that we have within us.  This post falls within that theme.

Continue reading Judging Ourselves and Others