Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Responding to Unpleasantness

Posted on The Morning Offering, this from St. Symeon the New Theologian:

"Faith in Christ is... a good and patient disposition of the soul in enduring all temptations, whether griefs, sorrows or unpleasant happenings, until God's favour looks down upon us; thus we would imitate David who says: 'I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry' (Ps. 40:1)."

Unpleasant happenings are my excuse for many kinds of sins, from overeating to speaking quickly and unkindly. If I would, at the first notice of unpleasantness, direct my soul to wait on God, wait to speak, wait to eat, etc., I would be enduring temptation. It appears that not all temptations are of the type from which one can flee, or that can be actively resisted. But in any circumstance we can rest in Christ. I don't write from much experience.

On the other hand, St. Symeon did. He was abbot of a monastery when the monks attacked and nearly killed him. Don't be confused by his title; his theology was not new, but he was younger than another man by the same name, hence the clarifier.

The Orthodox Church has given only three saints the title of Theologian. I love that the quote above hearkens back to old theology, that of a man whose tradition was of the school My Soul Follows Hard After Thee.

3 comments:

elizabeth said...

lovely quote... I struggle with this too; may God help us...

magsmcc said...

You know I am so poor at dealing calmly or even reasonably with "unpleasant happenings". This is mountainous thinking. What I'm reading just now is the Practice of the Presence of God- another so old thinker, but what a modern voice. This year I decided that I should take advantage of being a part-time librarian in our local university to read one philosopher a year. Hence Kirk! I'm still only half way through the biography- which is covered in coloured sticky book marks. His life was so plagued with complex emotional thinking? Eight out of tewlve months gone, and not an actual work read yet! But the life is fascinating!

Arsenios said...

Thank you for that fine quote. You're so right that "unpleasant happenings are an excuse for sin." I didn't know that about St. Symeon being attacked by the monks. I need to read up on his life. (desertseeker)