Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

The Tragic Passion of Suspicion


SuspicionSuspicion is a passion, and its results are comprehensive. Can their be any doubt that the passion of suspicion toward others is connected to the “hermeneutic of suspicion” that brings modernism and heresy and renovationism into the Church? Both are indeed a fall into the mind not of Christ but of culture, and they lose the ascetic link to our true Kingdom, favoring the kingdom of this world:

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strifes of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions, Conflicts of men corrupted in mind, and who are destitute of the truth, supposing gain to be godliness. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out.” – The Holy Apostle

“He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins…” — St. Maximos the Confessor

“By accepting a suspicion against the neighbor, by saying, ‘What does it matter if I put in a word about my suspicion? What does it matter if I find out what my brother is saying or what a guest is doing?’ the mind begins to forget about its own sins and to talk idly about his neighbor, speaking evil against him, despising him, and from this he falls into the very thing he condemns. Because we become careless about our own faults and do not lament our own death, we lose the power to correct ourselves and we are always at work on our neighbor.” – From St. Dorotheos of Gaza

“And the fathers tell us many such things in different ways to secure us against the harm suspicions do us. Let us strive with all our power never to put our trust in our own conjectures. For nothing separates us so completely from God or prevents us from noticing our own wrong-doing or makes us busy about what does not concern us, as this. No good comes from it but only troubles without number and they leave us no time to acquire the fear of God. Should worthless suspicions germinate in our minds, let us turn them into charitable thoughts and they will not harm us. For entertaining suspicions is wrong and it never allows the mind to be at peace. This is all I have to say about falsehood in the mind.” – St. Dorotheos of Gaza.“Purification of the passions leads eventually, by God’s grace, to what Evagrius terms apatheia or ‘dispassion’. By this he means, not a negative condition of indifference or insensitivity in which we no longer feel temptation, but a positive state of reintegration and spiritual freedom in which we no longer yield to temptation. Perhaps apatheia can best be translated ‘purity of heart’. It signified advancing from instability to stability, from duplicity to simplicity or singleness of heart, from the immaturity of fear and suspicion to the maturity of innocence and trust.” – Bishop Kallistos (Ware), Great Lent: The Season of Repentance

The Married Monk

Two monks arrived in the city of Tyre to perform some errand. As one of them was passing by a certain place, a harlot named Porphyria followed him, crying: “Honorable Father, save me, as Jesus Christ saved the harlot.” Without regard to people’s suspicions, he took her by the hand, in full view of many, and departed with her through the middle of the city. A rumor was immediately spread abroad that the monk in question had taken Porphyria as his wife. As Porphyria passed through cities and villages with him, she happened to come across an abandoned infant, which she lovingly took up and carried with her in order to rear it.

A little later on, some Tyrians came to the place where the monk and the erstwhile prostitute were dwelling. When they saw that Porphyria had a child in her arms, they began to laugh and jeer at that courageous man, saying to Porphyria: “You truly succeeded in your purpose; you have borne a beautiful child by this monk!” Upon returning to Tyre, they put a rumor out everywhere that Porphyria had given birth to a child by the monk, to whom it bore an amazing resemblance.

People are always ready to give credence to suspicions, especially when such people are corrupt and wicked, and can find grounds within themselves for believing such suspicions. They assume without further ado that other people are just like themselves and readily slander other individuals, both because they take pleasure in such suspicions and slanders and, as well, because they wish to have others as accomplices in evil, so eager are they to evade the reproaches of their own consciences.

That honorable monk tonsured Porphyria a nun and clothed her in the monastic schema, changing her name to “Pelagia” and entrusting her to a convent, so that she might lead the monastic life. However, after some time, having foreknowledge of the day of his death, he took her along with him and they returned to Tyre, accompanied by the child, who was now about seven years old.

It was immediately bandied around that Porphyria and her “husband,” the monk, had returned to the city. When the monk subsequently fell ill and was at the point of death, a great many of the inhabitants came to visit him. Under the eyes of all he ordered a censer full of lighted coals to be brought to him. Taking the censer, he poured the coals onto his chest, saying, within the hearing of all: “Blessed be the Lord, Who of old preserved the bush unconsumed; may He be my witness that just as the caustic power of this fire is not burning my clothes, so also I have never touched a woman in all my life.”

When they heard this, they were all astounded and glorified God Who, through such miracles, is wont to glorify openly those who serve Him secretly.

After doing and saying these things, the monk commended his soul into the hands of God. “For this reason, my spiritual children, I urge you all, as I said before, not to be quick to condemn, but to guard yourselves as much as possible from this sin.”

Account given by Patriarch John the Merciful of Alexandria, sent by Bishop Auxentios to Fr. Joseph Honeycutt (Orthodixie):

Let us remember, Brethren, that it is one thing to have specific questions, arguments, or criticisms which can be discussed, addressed, and debated, circumspectly, with love. But we are not entitled to be suspicious of one another: whether or of which side or what opinion. Those whose response to this site and these discussions is mere suspicion – “I’ll bet you are not canonical”, “I think you have another agenda,” “You’re trying to stir up trouble,” have sinned by judging out motives and have fallen into the grievous pit of suspicion. Likewise, we must ask questions but not fall into suspicion of our brethren. Let us seek to know plainly what and how they think, rather than to assume.
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February 13, 2008 - Posted by | -- 9th Commandment, Western Rite Issues | , ,

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