…Every time when someone insulted him or sneered at him, he took the piece of paper out of his belt, read it, remembered the promise of endurance which he had made to God, and calmed down. Some of the brothers wondered at his patience and began to love him. Others, in their malice, said, “He is doing some kind of magic to calm himself. Whenever we annoy him, he takes a piece of paper out of his belt, and when he looks at it, his anger passes away. This business is not good. He must be a magician…”
With such suspicions in their hearts, the spiteful monks went to the abbot and slandered the young brother before him. The abbot investigated the matter, found out the innocence of the brother, and for his justification and as a lesson to all, he summoned all monks to himself. When the accusations against the young brother were repeated, the abbot ordered him to show the piece of paper before everyone. The young monk obeyed, took out the paper and read the writing, “I will endure everything for Jesus Christ’s sake.” Then the accusers were ashamed and silenced, and the brother, acquitted and praised, lived peacefully with the respect and love of the monks.
In the same way, if we endure everything for Jesus Christ’s sake, we will be saved.
When we quarrel and fight, we always consider ourselves right and the others guilty. This is a result of our pride, and pride is the greatest obstacle to the peace of our soul. When no one bothers us, we are calm and consider ourselves very good. But when someone offends us, we get insulted and enraged and think that the other person is the cause of our anger. No, he is not to blame for it! The real cause is in the passions that are dormant in us. They have dozed quietly while they were not irritated, but at the first occasion they show their sting.
The man who has insulted us is not to blame that we are so proud, touchy, and sensitive that we cannot endure even the least offense. The fact that the offender can even bring benefit to a meek and humble soul, and that he becomes a cause of sin only for the proud one, testifies very clearly that the offender cannot be considered guilty for our spitefulness and strife. He only provides an occasion for the feelings that are already hidden in our soul to gush forth.
If a man breaks moldy bread which has grown musty inside but has retained its good outward look, is he to blame for the mold on the bread? With our hidden passions we resemble whitewashed tombs wonderful on the outside and filled with stench on the inside. According to the instructions of the Holy Fathers, if we want to be corrected, we should blame ourselves and not get angry at others. Instead of getting angry at the brother who has become the occasion for our passions to explode, we should rather thank him for helping us to know ourselves.
Happy is he who has learned that he himself is to blame for his own sins. This realization will lead him to repentance; the repentance—to humility; the humility—to endurance; and the endurance—to salvation.
Text found in The Meaning of Suffering and Strife & Reconciliation, by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev, pp 101-107. Book is available from St. Herman Press and can be ordered from their web site: http://www.sainthermanmonastery.com/ This is a book that can be read again and again and always be found edifying and profitable to the soul.