Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Where Non-Judging Comes From

The Desert Christians were famous for "non-judgement", which simply reflects their commitment to living out the teaching of Jesus (who said, for example, "Judge not, that you be not judged" - Matthew 7.1). It seems a cruel irony of history that Christianity has so often presented a judgemental face to the world, and reading the sayings of the desert saints only serves to underline that irony.

But non-judgement is not simply a matter of ignoring other people's failings, of gently drawing a veil over their foibles. It is rooted in a profound humility, a realistic self-assessment that understands that we are sinners just as fully and profoundly as our neighbours. It's not that we choose, out of our deep holiness, not to judge. It's that we have no business seeking to judge people in the first place. Again, of course, this is simply the teaching of Jesus ("Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" - Matthew 7.3)

It's in that light that we need to read the words of Abba Poemen, who offers some excellent advice on monastic life, and Christian life in general, to those who wish to hear it:
Abba Joseph asked Abba Poemen, "How does someone become a monk?" Poemen answered him, "If you're looking for peace in this world and the next, at every moment ask yourself, 'Who am I?' and then judge no-one else.
Image: Public domain 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Charming Priest

I just love this story. Abba Peter's humility is attractive enough, but it's the last line that always makes me smile. I guess I've just known too many people who somehow manage to make the beauty of faith in Christ into something incredibly annoying...!
There was a priest at Dios called Peter.
When he prayed with others,
he should have stood in the front
because he was a priest.
But he preferred humility,
so he always stood at the back and said,
"This is what is described
in the life of St Anthony."
And he did this without irritating anyone.
Image: John Stephen Dwyer via Wikimedia Commons 
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Monday, 1 December 2014

Revenge is Sweet (Apparently)

This story from the Desert Fathers pretty much speaks for itself.
A brother complained to Abba Sisoes,
"I've been hurt by another brother
and I want revenge."
The old man begged him to reconsider.
"My son," he said,
"revenge is God's business."
But the brother replied,
"I'll not rest till I have vengeance."
"Fine," answered Abba Sisoes,
and stood up to pray.
"Oh God," he prayed,
"apparently we don't need you
to look after us any longer.
Now we can get justice on our own."
When the brother heard him
he fell at the old man's feet.
"Forgive me, abba," he pleaded,
"I'll let this matter with my brother rest."
Image: Lara604 via Wikimedia Commons 
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