From the Pastor..June 2018

Jun 10, 2018 by

In recent articles, we have examined how judgmentalism is one of the worst passions – those obsessive habits, thoughts, or emotions that prevent us from loving as God intends and enables us to do. So how do we find healing for our judgmental patterns of behavior?  According to the Abbas of the early Egyptian desert, it is done by cultivating the virtue of seeing ourselves as sinners.

Abba Matoes said, “The nearer [a person] draws to God, the more [that person] sees himself [or herself] a sinner.  It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself ‘a man of unclean lips.’” 1

Seeing oneself to be a sinner does not mean saying constantly, “I am no good.”  This, in fact, would prevent us from being able to love ourselves or others, whom God has made in God’s image.  Rather, it means realizing that we all do, or are capable of doing, terrible things.  The early monastic teachers were emphatic that it is impossible for us to love others unless we deeply realize that we are all in the same boat in our failings in the area of love. 2

Believing oneself to be perfect enough to criticize others, Roberta Bondi says, is self-righteousness, the sin of the Pharisee in the temple.  This is the opposite of love.  No amount of “goodness” allows a person to render judgment on another’s sin.  Only God can do that.  Growth in our ability to love, Bondi writes, “in fact moves us

increasingly into a deeper compassion for other people’s human frailty. Love makes us less critical as we identify with others.  When you see someone sin, says one of the Abbas, say, ‘Oh, Lord, he today, I tomorrow!’” 3

This is the beginning of the virtue of humility, a virtue we easily misunderstand in our modern culture.  We will explore it further next time.

Blessings in the Spirit,

Betsy Caudill

 

  1. Roberta C. Bondi, To Pray & to Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Early Church (Minneapolis; Fortress Press, 1991), p.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Bondi, To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), p. 22.

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