Sunday, March 15, 2009

Festering Wounds

WHEN HE WAS AT THE POINT OF DEATH, Abba Sisoes, one of the most venerated Desert Fathers, said to the fathers surrounding him, "Look, the angels are coming to fetch me, and I am begging them to let me do a little penance." The old man said to him, "You have no need to do penance, Father." But the old man said to them, "Truly, I do not think I have even made a beginning yet."(1)

It's always the holiest ones, the most God-fearing ones, who have this fear. I wonder sometimes, whether this sense of urgency, this eagerness to repent, is dead in us today. I fear that it is our very unholiness which makes us indifferent to our desperate need for radical repentance.

In an interesting analogy, St. John Climacus points out the problem:
While a wound is still fresh and warm it is easy to heal, but old, neglected and festering ones are hard to cure, and require for their care much treatment, cutting, plastering and cauterization. Many from long neglect become incurable. But with God all things are possible...(2)

When I ignore my short temper, my wandering eyes, my blabbing mouth, am I shocked that my "fresh wounds" are now infected and that I am an angry, lustful, babbler?

(1) The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Sigma
(2) John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent (The Classics of Western Spirituality)


HL7 said...

Wholeheartedly agree:

"When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right...Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either."

elgreca262 said...

the Lenten Season is like a gentle current carrying us and bathing us in God's care.