Friday, June 28, 2013

Ladder of Divine Ascent - On Malice or the Remembrance of Wrongs

             Remembrance of wrongs is the offspring of anger and its culmination.  It holds on to another's sins.  Climacus describes it as a poison of the soul.  The seriousness of this cannot be underestimated for, he states, "a malicious hesychast is like a lurking snake carrying about its own deadly poison."  It is deadly to the soul because it makes a mockery of its prayer and stifles true love.
            In order to rid ourselves of this vice, we must purge ourselves of anger.  Our greatest weapon in this task is the Lord's Prayer.  For we cannot but be put to shame for our maliciousness when we ceaselessly cry out to God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
            We may also be healed of this passion through looking to the example of Christ's long suffering and his patient endurance of the many wrongs done to him. 

1-6            Malice defined and described.

            Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger.  It is a keeper of sins.  It hates a just way of life.  It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind.  It is the shame of prayer, a cutting off of supplication, a turning away from love, a nail piercing the soul.  It is a pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness.  It is a never-ending sin, an unsleeping wrong, rancor by the hour.

7-14            How malice can be overcome and the true sign that it has been mastered.  Forgetting of wrongs is the sure means of being forgiven.
            Let your malice and your spite be turned against the devils.  Treat your body always as an enemy, for the flesh is an ungrateful and treacherous friend.  The more you look after it, the more it hurts you.

            Let the prayer of Jesus put it to shame, that prayer which cannot be uttered in the company of malice.
            If after great effort you still fail to root out this thorn, go to your enemy and apologize, if only with empty words whose insincerity may shame you.  Then as conscience, like a fire, comes to give you pain, you may find that a sincere love of your enemy may come to life.
           A true sign of having completely mastered this putrefaction will come not when you pray for the man who offended you, not when you give him presents, not when you invite him to share a meal with you, but only when, on hearing of some catastrophe that has afflicted him in body or soul, you suffer and you lament for him as if for yourself.

            The remembrance of what Jesus suffered is a cure for remembrance of wrongs, shaming it powerfully with His patient endurance.

            Some labor and struggle hard to earn forgiveness, but better than these is the man who forgets the wrongs done to him.  Forgive quickly and you will be abundantly forgiven.  To forget wrongs is to prove oneself truly repentant, but to brood on them and at the same time to imagine one is practicing repentance is to act like the man who is convinced he is running when in fact he is fast asleep.

15-16            Concluding remarks and exhortation.

            Never imagine that this dark vice is a passion of no importance, for it often reaches out even to spiritual men.
            Such is the ninth step.  Let him who has taken it have the courage henceforth to ask Jesus the Savior to free him from his sins.

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