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Step 09

ON THE REMEMBRANCE OF INJURIES.

1. The various Christian virtues may be compared to the steps of Jacob’s ladder, and vicious and profane habits of sin to the chains which fell from the hands of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. For the virtues follow each other like the rounds in the ladder, elevating those who practise them step by step to heaven. The vices, in like manner, follow and give occasion to one another, and are linked together like the rings of a chain. Hence having spoken of the foolish passion of anger, and having learnt that the remembrance of injuries is one of its offspring, we shall be following the right order of our discourse if we treat of this latter vice in this its appropriate place.

2. The revengeful remembrance of injuries is the consummation and highest reach of anger. It is that which nourishes and keeps sin alive in the soul. It is a hatred of justice, the ruin of virtue, the venom which poisons the mind, the worm which gnaws the heart. It is a subject of confusion to those who, by the prayer which God Himself has taught them, pledge themselves to forget injuries. It is a perpetual obstacle to all the supplications which they may pour forth to God. It is the banishment of friendship, the cruel point of a lively resentment that pierces the soul; a sensible and poignant sorrow, which leaves in the heart no particle of love, through the delight that it experiences in the bitterness of anger. It is one continuous sin; the eye of iniquity which never sleeps; a malicious disposition which is strengthened in its malignity every hour.

3. The remembrance of injuries is a dark and concealed passion, the daughter, but never the mother, of any other passion. For this reason our observations upon it shall be few and brief.

4. He who has stifled anger has also blotted out the remembrance of injuries. For as long as anger lives she continues to be the fruitful mother of many unhappy children.

5. Whoever entertains a true affection for his neighbour has banished from his soul the commotions of anger. But he who harbours hatred against any one introduces into his soul a legion of vexations, inquietudes, and bitter meditations of revenge.

6. A banquet, at which charity feasts her enemies, dispels hatred, and with pure and sincere gifts soothes the agitated soul. A table, on the contrary, which is not regulated by sobriety and prudence, produces licentiousness, and this intemperance glides into the feast through the door of charity.

7. I have seen hatred break at once the long established bonds of profane love, and discard the remembrance of the injurious words which had unceasingly kept open the rupture, contrary to the expectation, and certainly to the admiration of every one. It was wonderful to behold one demon thus cure the evil which another had committed. But perhaps it was a particular dispensation of Divine Providence, and not the work of demons.

8. The remembrance of injuries generally closes the door against any firm and solid friendship. There is, however, sometimes formed between it and a too great and indiscreet freedom an intimate acquaintance and association. Thus we behold this vermin of the soul become secretly attached to the pure dove.

9. Let him who wishes to remember injuries call to his recollection those which have been inflicted upon him by the devil. And let him who desires to be revenged wreak his vengeance upon his own body. For it is an ungrateful and malicious friend, and the better we treat it the more intent is it on doing us mischief.

10. The remembrance of injuries is a subtle and artful interpreter of Holy Scripture, which it expounds and perverts to its own sense and deceitful imagination. But our Lord’s Prayer, bequeathed to us by Jesus Christ, ought to overwhelm such persons as entertain this remembrance with confusion, since no one can repeat this prayer with his heart and be mindful of injuries.

11. When, after a severe contest with yourself to forget an injury, you feel that you cannot entirely master this foe to your salvation, at least humble yourself in words before your enemy, that you may blush at yourself for your false reconciliation, and that the reproach of shame with which your conscience will chide you, may be as the point of a flame that is already penetrating you, and burning you so severely, that the very pain you endure may induce you to love the individual with whom you were at variance with a perfect friendship.

12. Know that your soul is delivered from the corruption of revenge, not when you have offered prayers and good wishes to God for him who has offended you, nor when you have returned him good for evil, no, nor when you have invited him to your table, but then only when, having learnt that some fatal accident has befallen him, whether in soul or body, you are afflicted thereat, and bewail his misfortune as if it were your own.

13. An anchorite who fosters in his soul the remembrance of injuries, is in his cell what an asp is in his hiding-hole, cherishing the deadly poison which fills its veins.

14. The remembrance of Jesus Christ can heal a soul of the remembrance of injuries by the extreme confusion which His bright example of patience causes in such a soul, and which is a stinging reproach to its impatience.

15. Worms are engendered in wood that is rotten at the core, and anger is the vice of those who, though outwardly mild, harbour a secret bitterness, which infects and corrupts the heart. He who has purified his soul from anger has obtained the pardon of his sins. But he who nourishes and preserves his vice deprives himself of all right to mercy.

16. Many persons have undertaken with ardour great and painful labours, that they might deserve the pardon of their offences. But he who forgets injuries will obtain this forgiveness, this favour far sooner, because it is an acknowledged truth, that in readily forgiving the injustice which has been done ourselves, we shall receive most bountifully the pardon of those transgressions which we have committed against God, according to Jesus Christ in the Gospel. [Luke, vi.37.]

17. The forgetfulness of injuries is the testimony of a solid and sincere repentance. But he who harbours animosity in his heart, yet fancies that he is moved by the true spirit of repentance, resembles the man who imagines that he is running whilst he is stretched on his bed dreaming.

18. I have seen those who were sick of this malady exhort others similarly affected with it themselves, through the secret shame they felt of belying their words by their actions.

19. Let no one imagine that this passion, which spreads over the soul the darkness of night, is one of little importance, since it oftentimes corrupts the hearts even of devout persons.

He who has mounted this ninth step may ask with confidence from Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour, the pardon of his sins.



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Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
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Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
USA
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