Monday, May 28, 2012

You Cannot Be Too Gentle

Fr. David Rucker, Associate Director of the Orthodox Christian Missions Centre, spent the weekend with Bonnie and me. He was here for the wedding of James and Daphne who are long-term Orthodox missionaries in Tanzania.  Fr. David and I got along swell.  I think Orthodox missionaries around the world are in good hands under his care.

Fr. David gave me a quote from St. Seraphim of Sarov, a quote that his bishop gave him when he was ordained.

You cannot be too gentle,
too kind.
Shun even to appear harsh
in your treatment
of each other.

Joy, radiant joy,
streams from the face
of him who gives
and kindles joy in the heart 
of him who receives.

All condemnation
is from the devil.
Never condemn each other.

Instead of condemning others,
strive to reach inner peace.

Keep silent,
refrain from judgement.
This will raise you 
above the deadly arrows
of slander, insult, and outrage
and will shield your glowing hearts
against all evil.

That about sums up the Orthodox Christian spiritual quest.  No matter how heretical, corrupt, sinful, messy, stinky, unfair, uncomfortable or un-Orthodox my friends and neighbours are, if I can just acquire genuine peace and joy in my heart, that will do more to help, save and draw my neighbor to Christ than anything else I could possibly say or do.  I cannot love my neighbor if my very presence afflicts him or her.  But if I allow myself to be transfigured, then whatever I say or do will be irradiated with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.  


Barbara said...

I love this quote, Fr. Michael. I share the beginning with my students every semester. It's nice to see it in full context. Some of my students never quite believe me, but some are relieved that they don't have to be "tough" in order to teach. Or as my grandmother used to can catch more flies with honey...

The quote is best taught by being lived, though, and seeing it in action. I wish my students had St. Seraphim to watch.

Fr. Michael said...

Perhaps they have his daughter...

Ostensive Lyme said...

I am so deeply touched by this, and other fruits of genuine Christian maturity that I receive from the saints.
It makes me hunger and thirst for righteousness.

with thanks;
-Mark Basil