Thursday, January 31, 2013

Compunction and Resisting Thoughts

More food for thought from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

Going into Egypt one day, Abba Poemen saw a woman who was sitting in a tomb and weeping bitterly.

He said, “If all the delights of the world were to come, they could not drive sorrow away from the soul of this woman. Even so the monk would always have compunction in himself.”

If I could keep my sins fresh in my minds, along with the understanding that these sins hurt Our Lord more than I can ever imagine, perhaps I would be able to resist the repetition of them! I know, though, that when I confess the sins, they are wiped away.  Still, there is the ever-present possibility – probability…or even certainty – that I will sin again. I think the key is to maintain the compunction, but to also embrace the joy of our salvation.

Here’s another nugget:

A brother came to see Abba Poemen and said to him, “Abba, I have many thoughts and they put me in danger.”

The old man led him outside and said to him, “Expand your chest and do not breath in.”

He said, “I cannot do that.”

Then the old man said to him, “If you cannot do that, no more can you prevent thoughts from arising, but you can resist them.”

The devils are always stirring up our thoughts against us. In my case, they are always trying to tempt me to think and say uncharitable things about others. But I can resist them, and I can call on Our Lord and the angels and saints to help me. 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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