Saturday, January 19, 2008

St. Silouan on Christian Love and Justice of Men

Have been attempting these aspects of Christian love--of embracing all in love and accepting the guilt of their sins as my responsibility. I also ponder and accept the fact that there are others out there, living and dead, who are accepting the responsibility for my sins.

Jesus suffers this always, for us, for me. A victim soul is called to do likewise, albeit imperfectly. Just gaining the concept is a beginning! Then practicing comes next. The Staretz' teaching explains as follows.

"...We reject the idea of laying one man's guilt on another, as not according with our conceptions of equity. But the spirit of the love of Christ speaks otherwise, seeing nothing strange, but rather something entirely natural, in sharing the guilt of those we love, and even in assuming full responsibility for their wrong-doing. Indeed, it is only in this bearing of another's guilt that the truth of love is revealed and grows to full awareness of itself.

"Many of us cannot, or do not want to, accept and suffer of our own free will the consequences of Adam's original sin....'I am ready to answer for my own sins, but certainly not for the sins of others.'"

All this can be altered--the pattern of sin--if we today can begin assuming the burden of the sins of our fellowmen. And yes, this is addition to the burden of our own sins. This is the sacrifice of love.

It is a suffering to love like this because it goes against our fallen nature. We begin to de-personalize sin. Then we are open to love others despite their sins, and in this love we are willing to lay down our lives--our egos, thoughts, resentments, self-justifications, excuses, self-righteousness--in order to be at one with others who are sinners as we are sinners. Then, we become lovers.

There is a woman, and she does not like me. There is nothing that I've done other than try to be kind but also to have set some boundaries when she became a bit emotionally abusive. It came down to an unfounded envy, of sorts, from her insecurities. Don't I know about insecurities? I have them, too! This woman is rather known by others to be one from whom to stay clear. It is unfortunate, as she does have some "issues." Again, don't I know about issues? I have them, too!

Today after noon Mass, I held the door open for this woman. I had lectored, and the Mass was so lovely for Christian Unity, and offered for the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I held the door, the woman briskly walked by, not looking in an intense effort to not glance at me. Her face hardened and eyes glowering and lowered, she passed within inches of my personhood. After slightly beyond, she fired out a brusk, formal "Thank you." Then followed a woman whose soul shimmers from behind her eyes, who smiled and looked me in the face, and said a pleasant, human "Thank you."

It was much easier to love the second woman. It was a joy to see her in the parking lot and tell her what a beautiful soul she has! The other woman was not in the parking lot, and has she been, as she has previously, unless something major changed, would not want to be greeted. It has not worked to benefit. But she is the one who needs such love, and in the past rudeness to me in a kind of demanding bossiness, and in glowering glances (not so easy when one is lectoring and trying to look out at the faces with love)--and I must learn to bear the guilt of her interior sadness which has become a visible ugliness.

In outer appearance, the angry lady could be more attractive than the beautiful-souled woman whose inner magnifies her outer. But the unhappy woman is unhappy from within, and that sadness suffers her beauty to decline. This soul is going to take consistent prayer, passing kindness, sensitivity to not put her in a position of conversing, and of loving meekness toward her and her physical "space." I must practice accepting whatever it is that she says or does which is unkind, pathetic, rude, and distant. That is, I must be willing to have responsibility for the guilt of these wrong-doings. It must be done out of love for her, though. I must also, perhaps first (I don't know if there is an order or if should be done in tandem), love her very much. I can love her, now better than previously. I have removed myself from a club in which she seemed needy to boss and show superiority, when I was not interested in any tasks or notice. I have not missed the club, good-purposed as it is. So now there are no occasions of sin for her, regarding me, other than my existence, in passing, from time to time, or seeing me once a week lector. I cannot drop out of the Church, after all; so now it is time to gently love this soul and be responsible for her unhappiness as a means of reparation.

Does this mean I will become miserable? No. Thus far, it has only evoked a kind of measured compassion that I do not let show. This would not be helpful to her, if she thought I had pity. For it is not pity but love that I am engendering. I hope, as St. Silouan was able to do after no doubt much practice and prayer and graces from God, to be able to pull this woman into the love of God, through my love of God--and without any notice or words or actions. Holding the door, in fact, was not done for her specifically, as I saw this other woman coming, and a man, and the envious woman happened to walk through first, rather unexpectedly.

People like this are not just one; they are many. So in practicing with the one, I will not focus on the one but rather consider the many out there who are interiorly unhappy or are subject to envy, without their realizing the outer manifestations which take energy and bring coldness to their features. There are many countless souls like this, who we don't even know. But we can learn to love them, and to take responsibility for their behavior, through prayer.

It is difficult to write about that which is a new endeavor, based on spiritual teachings, that have to do with Christian love and the justice of men. This comes under Jesus' asking us to love our neighbor as ourselves.


Post a Comment

<< Home