Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mending the Torn Cloak

From The Sayings of the Desert Father:

A soldier asked Abba Mius if God accepted repentance. After the old man had taught 
him many things, he said, “Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn, do you throw it away?”

He replied, “No, I mend it and use it again.”

The old man said to him, “If you are so careful about your cloak, will not God be equally careful about his creature?”

I read this soon after our return from Florida, and as the situation with my daughter’s friend weighs on my mind and heart, I thought of him. I even showed this “saying” to my daughter (and as a sign of the times we live in, she whipped out her phone and took a picture of it, presumably so she could either refer back to it later, and/or so she could share it with others).

I thought it was a good way to think about others, not just ourselves in relation to God and our own sinfulness. My daughter’s friend seems to me to suffer much from “survivor guilt”, and my limited experience with people with that issue suggests that they need to believe that God accepts their repentance, and they also need to forgive themselves.  But I’m afraid too few get the help they need along those lines; usually, they will just hear a constant chorus of “well, it wasn’t really your fault.” It seems to me that it might be a greater help to have the person examine just exactly what fault they think they have in the matter, then have them confess it (if it is a sin, or maybe even if it’s not, so that a priest can clarify it for them), and then have them do penance for their fault.

Instead, what I have seen is that people don’t get that kind of advice or help (or don’t take advantage of it), and they end up feeling that they are a torn cloak that should be thrown away rather than mended.

I’m pleased that my daughter wants to see her friend “mended”, and that she is praying for that to happen, and giving him as much support as she can. And I pray that through her actions and words, he gets the message that he is indeed worth “mending”. 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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