From The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus:
"…[T]hose who seem to be the most hard-working and obedient and hence confirmed in virtue, if left for any length of time without being censured or reproached by the superior, lose that meekness and obedience they formerly had. Good, fruitful, and fertile land, if left without the water os dishonor, can revert to being forest and can produce the thorns of vanity, lewdness, and arrogance. The great Apostle understood this. Hence his instruction to Timothy: ‘Be insistent, criticize them, rebuke in season and out of season’ (2 Tim. 4:2)."
"But when I argued the matter with [a] true director, reminding him of human frailty, I suggested that punishment, deserved or otherwise, might lead many to break away from the flock. That man, in whom wisdom had made a home, had this to say to me: ‘A soul bound in faith and love to the shepherd for Christ’s sake does not go away, even when blood is spilt. He certainly does not leave if through the shepherd he has received the cure for his wounds, for he bears in mind the words, ‘Neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor any other creature can separate us from the love of Christ’ (cf. Rom. 8:38-39). If a soul is not attached, bound, and devoted to the shepherd in this fashion, it seems to me that the man should not be here at all; for what binds him to the shepherd is hypocrisy and false obedience.’"
Though that passage refers to men in monasteries, I think it could just as easily be applied to any member of the Church.
"Your tongue leaps to arguement, but restrain it. It is a tyrant, and you must fight it daily seventy times seven. Fix your mind to your soul as to the wood of the cross, strike it with alternating hammer blows like an anvil. It has to be mocked, abused, ridiculed, and wronged, though without any way being crushed or broken; indeed it must keep calm and unstirred. Shed your will as if it were some disgraceful garment, and having thus stripped yourself of it, go into the practice arena. Put on the breastplate of faith, which is so hard to come by, and let it not be crushed or damaged by distrust of your trainer. Let the rein of temperance curb the shameless onward leap of the sense of touch. With meditation on death bridle those eyes so ready to waste endless hours in the contemplation of physical beauty. Hold back your mind, so busy with its own concerns, so ready to turn to the reckless criticism and condemnation of your brother. Show instead every love and sympathy for your neighbor. Dearest father, all men will come to know that we are disciples of Christ if, as we live together, we have love for one another."
Restraint of the tongue – that does not come easily to me.
"A man should know that a devil’s sickness is on him if he is seized by the urge in conversation to assert his opinion, however correct it may be. If he behaves this way while talking to his equals, then a rebuke from his seniors may heal him. But if he carries on in this way with those who are greater and wiser than he, his sickness cannot be cured by human means."
"Son, obedient servant of the Lord, do not be so fooled by the spirit of conceit that you confess your sins to your director as though they were someone else’s. Lay bare your wound to the healer. Only through shame can you be freed from shame. Tell him, and do not be ashamed: ‘This is my wound, Father; this is my injury. It happened because of my negligence and not from any other cause. No one is to blame for this, no man, spirit or body or anything else. It is all through my negligence."
It so easy to make excuses and rationalize everything, isn’t it?
"Habit forms things and follows them. And it is particularly true that virtue depends on habit, and here God is the great collaborator."
Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent. Be careful what thoughts and actions you practice.
"We ought not be surprised if the attacks continue to come even after confession. In any case, it is better to be battling with our polluted thoughts rather than our self-esteem."
Don’t be so hard on yourself that you begin to hate yourself. If God can forgive you, you can forgive yourself.
"The zealous should be especially careful not to condemn the easygoing in case they draw down a worse sentence on themselves. That, I think, was why Lot was justified. Despite the sort of people he lived with, he never seems to have condemned them."
The measure by which we judge…
"An old habit often dominates even someone who mourns. No wonder, for the judgments visited by God and our own lapses make up a list hard to understand, and it is impossible to be sure which of our failings are due to carelessness, which are due to the fact that God permitted them, and which arise from God’s having turned away from us. I have been told, however, that lapses occurring as a result of divine providence cause us to repent swifty, since He Who delivers us does not permit us to be held captive for long. But above all we must fight off the demon of dejection whenever we happen to slip, for he comes right beside us when we are praying and reminds us of our former good standing with God and tries to divert us from our prayer."
"Do not be surprised if you fall every day and do not surrender. Stand your ground bravely. And you may be sure that your guardian angel will respect your endurance. A fresh, warm wound is easier to heal than those that are old, neglected, and festering, and that need extensive treatment, surgery, bandaging, and cauterization. Long neglect can render many of them incurable. However, all things are possible with God (matt. 19:26)."
Been there, done that (i.e., allow sin to fester). *sigh*