Like the sun which shines on all alike, vainglory beams on every occupation. What I mean is this. I fast, and turn vainglorious. I stop fasting so that I will draw no attention to myself, and I become vainglorious over my prudence. I dress well or badly, and I am vainglorious in either case. I talk or hold my peace, and each time I am defeated. No matter how I shed this prickly thing, a spike remains to stand up against me.
The insensitive man is a foolish philosopher, an exegete condemned by his own words, a scholar who contradicts himself, a blind man teaching sight to others. He talks about healing a wound and does not stop making it worse. He complains about what has happened and does not stop eating what is harmful. He prays against it but carries on as before, doing it and angry with himself. And the wretched man is in no way shamed by his own words. “I’m doing wrong,” he cries, and zealously continues to do so. His lips pray against it and his body struggles for it. He talks profoundly about death and acts as if he will never die. He groans over the separation of soul and body, and yet lives in a state of somnolence as if he were eternal. He has plenty to say about self-control and fights for a gourmet life. He reads about the judgment and begins to smile, about vainglory and is vainglorious while he is reading. He recites what he has learnt about keeping vigil, and at once drops off to sleep. Prayer he extols, and runs from it as if from a plague. Blessings he showers on obedience, and is the first to disobey. Detachment he praises, and he shamelessly fights over a rag. When he is angry he gets bitter, and then his bitterness makes him angry, so that having suffered one defeat he fails to notice that he has suffered another. He gorges himself, is sorry, and a little later is at it again. He blesses silence and cannot stop talking about it. He teaches meekness and frequently gets angry while he is teaching it. Having come to his senses, he sighs and shaking his head he embraces his passion once more. He denounces laughter, and while lecturing on mourning he is all smiles. In front of others he criticizes himself for being vainglorious, and in making the admission he is looking for glory. He looks people in the eye with passion and talks about chastity. Out in the world he is full of praise for the solitary life and cannot see how much he is disgracing himself. He glorifies almsgivers and despises the poor. In everything he shows himself up for what he is, and does not come to his senses, though I would not say he was incapable of doing so.
I’m guilty of most of those things. I’m also likely to be guilty of recognizing my guilt and doing little about it, just as the passage describes. What kind of special hypocrite does that make me?
“Do not say that you are interested in money for the sake of the poor, for two mites were sufficient to purchase the kingdom of heaven (cf. Luke 21:2).”
“The pretext of almsgiving is the start of avarice, and the finish is detestation of the poor. The collector is stirred by charity, but, when the money is in, the grip tightens.”
“A man who has embraced poverty offers up prayer that is pure, while a man who loves possessions prays to material images.”
“The man who has tasted the things of heaven easily thinks nothing of what is below, but he who has had no taste of heaven finds pleasure in possessions.”
“The man who thinks nothing of goods has freed himself from quarrels and disputes. But the lover of possessions will fight to the death for a needle. Sturdy faith cuts off cares, and remembrance of death denies the body. There was no trace of avarice in Job, and so he remained tranquil when he lost everything.”
"Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory on which it loves to preen itself and show off. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a doorway to slander, a leader of jesting, a servant of lies, the ruin of compunction, a summoner of despondency, a messenger of sleep, a dissipation of recollection, the end of vigilence, the cooling of zeal, the darkening of prayer."
"Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, freedom from bondage, custodian of zeal, a guard on our thoughts, a watch on our enemies, a prison of mourning, a friend of tears, a sure recollection of death, a painter of punishment, a concern with judgment, servant of anguish, foe of license, a companion of stillness, the opponent of dogmatism, a growth of knowledge, a hand to shape contemplation, hidden progress, the secret journey upward. For the man who recognizes his sins has taken control of his tongue, while the chatterer has yet to discover himself as he should."
"The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him. Jesus, by His silence, shamed Pilate; and a man, by his stillness, conquers vainglory. Peter wept bitterly for what he had said. He had forgotten the one who declared: 'I said: I will guard my ways so that I may not sin with my tongue' (Ps. 38:1). He had forgotten too the saying, 'Better to fall from a height to the ground than to slip with the tongue' (Ecclus. 20:18)."
"You wish, or rather, have decided, to remove a splinter from someone? Very well, but do not go after it with a stick instead of a lancet for you will only drive it deeper. Rough speech and harsh gestures are the stick, while even-tempered instruction and patient repremand are the lancet. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort,’ says the Apostle (2 Tim 4:2), not ‘batter.’"
"Malice is an exponent of Scripture which twists the owrds of the Spirit to suit itself. Let the prayer of Jesus [i.e., the Lord’s Prayer, a.k.a. the Our Father] put it to shame, that prayer which cannot be uttered in the company of malice."
"If after great effort you still fail to root out this thorn, go to your enemy and apologize, if only with empty words whose insincereity may shame you. Then as conscience, like a fire, comes to give you pain, you may find that a sincere love of your enemy may come to life."
"A true sign of having completely mastered this putrefaction will come not when you pray for the man who offended you, not when you give him presents, not when you invite him to share a meal with you, but only when, on hearing of some catastrophe that has afflcited him in body or soul, you suffer and you lament for him as if for yourself."
"I have rebuked people who were engaged in slander, and, in self defense, these evildoers claimed to be acting out of love and concern for the victim of the slander. My answer to that was to say: ‘Then stop that kind of love, or else you will be making a liar out of him who declared, ‘I drove away the man who secretly slandered his neighbor’ (Ps. 100:5). If, as you insist, you love that man, then do not be making a mockery of him, but pray for him in secret, for this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord. And remember – now I say this as something to be pondered, and do not start passing judgment on the offender – Judas was one of the company of Christ’s disciples and the robber was in the company of killers. Yet what a turnabout there was when the decisive moment arrived!"
"Fire and water do not mix, neither can you mix judgment of others with the desire to repent. If a man commits a sin before you at the very moment of his death, pass no judgment, because the judgment of God is hidden from men. It has happened that men have sinned greatly in the open but have done greater good deeds in secret, so that those who would disparage them have been fooled, with smoke instead of sunlight in their eyes. So listen to me, all you accountants of other people’s faults, listen well: for if, as is certain, it is true that ‘you shall be judged with the judgment you have used yourselves’ (Matt. 7:2), then whatever sin of body or spirit that we ascribe to our neighbor will surely fall into ourselves."
"You can always recognize people who are malicious and slanderous. They are filled with the spirit of hatred. Gladly and without a qualm they slander the teaching, the doings and the virtues of their neighbor. I have known men who secretly had committed very grave sins and had not been found out, yet cloaked in their supposed goodness they lashed out against people who had done something minor in public."
"To pass judgment on another is to usurp shamelessly a prerogative of God, and to condemn is to ruin one’s soul."
"Do not condemn. Not even if your very eyes are seeing something, for they may be deceived."