Be ye kind one to another, minister grace unto the hearers

LET no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:29-32.

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Righteous John Cassian

Righteous John Cassian (ca. 360 – 435)

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IF, therefore, you desire to attain perfection and rightly to pursue the spiritual way, you should make yourself a stranger to all sinful anger and wrath.

Listen to what St Paul enjoins: “Rid yourselves of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and all malice” (Eph. 4:31).

In saying “all” he leaves no excuse for regarding any anger as necessary or reasonable.

If you want to correct your brother when he is doing wrong or to punish him, you must try to keep yourself calm; otherwise you yourself may catch the sickness you are seeking to cure and you may find that the words of the Gospel now apply to you: “Physician, heal yourself” (Luke 4:23), or “Why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother’s eye, and not notice the rafter in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3).

No matter what provokes it, anger blinds the soul’s eyes, preventing it from seeing the Sun of righteousness.

Leaves, whether of gold or lead, placed over the eyes, obstruct the sight equally, for the value of the gold does not affect the blindness it produces.

Morning sun behind the tress on Hardwick Heath in Suffolk. © David Swales, Geograph. Used under licence.

"Anger blinds the soul's eyes, preventing it from seeing the Sun of righteousness". Morning sun behind the trees on Hardwick Heath in Suffolk. © David Swales, Geograph. Used under licence. Click for original.

Similarly, anger, whether reasonable or unreasonable, obstructs our spiritual vision.

Our incensive power can be used in a way that is according to nature only when turned against our own impassioned or self-indulgent thoughts.

This is what the Prophet teaches us when he says: “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ps.4:4. LXX) – that is, be angry with your own passions and with your malicious thoughts, and do not sin by carrying out their suggestions.

What follows clearly confirms this interpretation: “As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart” (Ps. 4:4. LXX) – that is, when malicious thoughts enter your heart, expel them with anger, and then turn to compunction and repentance as if your soul were resting in a bed of stillness.

St John Cassian, “On the Eight Vices”, in the Philokalia Vol I. Translation by Sherrard, Palmer and Ware, p. 83.

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Apostichon of Lauds. Of Compunction

ALAS! why have I become like unto the barren fig tree, and together with the tree that was felled, shake with fear at the curse?

But do thou, Christ God, heavenly husbandman, shew my soul fruitful, and receive me as the prodigal son, and have mercy upon me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the holy Spirit
Now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

THE blind man who reckoned all life as night, cried out to the Lord: Open my eyes, O Son of David, our Saviour, that with all creation I might sing hymns to thy power.

Matins on the Sixth Monday after Pascha (today). Original at Analogion. Yesterday was the Sunday of the Blind Man.

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