5 March 1949
Christ is in our midst!
It is good sometimes to remember one's past sins, for this gives birth to humility; but when memory of former sins leads to despair, it is clear that the enemy is trying to trouble the soul. Do not listen to him, calm yourself, do not be crushed, do not be depressed, try to drive off such disturbing thoughts by prayer. The Holy Spirit says through the prophet Ezekiel: 'If a wicked man turns away from his sins, his sins will not be remembered' [Ezek. 3:18]. The Lord does not desire the death of a sinner. So live for your family, be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, and do not speak of your inner life, for they will not understand you. If your husband stumbles, be patient and do not be upset, but pray more zealously; remember that you too have stumbled.
I always remember you in my prayers, and I beg you not to forget me. The Lord in His mercy help you and your affairs. "
Father John tells his spiritual child here that the remembrance of past sins can be good to aid in the attaining of greater humility. But he warns that this remembrance leading to humility is able easily to cross the bounds into despair for these sins. "I'm just no good" or "What's the use anyhow?" or "God will never forgive me for this sin" or "God is so strict, why try?" and many other things does our enemy desire for us to dwell on. He endeavors to cause us to forget our Lord's deep and abiding love for us sinners who are under the oppression of a fallen world in the sway of the Evil One inhabiting a dying body which fights us as we seek to live righteously in this perverse generation. Our Lord sees our struggle and understands. May we learn to lean into His mercy.
Father John once again cautions against sharing our spiritual life with those who are apt to misunderstand those things we share with them.
The inner life or the inner landscape is just that, inner. Mapping out this inner landscape requires a lifelong work and perseverance. As we travel about within, we come across landmarks and telling signs and patterns which interface with that world without, of which those who we know and communicate with are unable to travel inwardly within us as the travel reserved for them is within themselves.
I speak of course of the "ordinary" observer of ourselves and not of those ascetic masters and Saints which through purification of themselves and the effort to acquire this purification in the process mapped out the inner life within themselves to such an extent that they can read us and know us.
In my own life, especially in my younger days, I spent much time trying to get others to see things as I did. I would hear a song, for instance, and so want, so desire, to share it with someone in the fashion I experienced it. But this connection was impossible as the other person lacked all the inner (and outer) conditions which gave me this experience. Nay, better yet, this other person lacked my unique person to experience the song as I did. They were too busy experiencing the song in their own person as themselves.
I had also been made privy to others' like for a particular song and I tried to experience it as they but was unable and I sensed this longing on their part, a pleading of sorts to find a kinship within me "Of the Song."
This inability to bring others inward to ourselves, I believe, can be an aid to humility, a sense of our lack of power to control others and to shape them "to understand" us, to lead their being into ourselves and trap them there to forever have another who "gets us". Or, this same powerlessness may create a bitterness and increased and increasing isolation from all those others who" just don't understand."
Read the previous post in this series:
Je crois en l'Église Une... (A.S. Khomiakov 2/12) - I – Unité de l'ÉgliseL'unité de l'Église découle nécessairement de l'unité de Dieu; car l'Église n'est pas une multitude de personnes dans leur individuali...
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