Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Abba Dioscorus 1


A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, 'My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother's faults'. The old man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, "Father, why are you weeping?" "I am weeping over my sins," the old man answered him. Then his disciple said, "You do not have any sins, Father." The old man replied, "Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them."

Some thoughts:

There is an emphasis upon personal sin in the Sayings that is perhaps unpleasant to us Episcopalians. It is very easy, I think, to read this Saying and think "extremism." And maybe it is too extreme for good mental health. OTOH, I can't remember the last time I heard a sermon that contrasted, for example, the hard sayings of Jesus with personal behavior. The sermons I've heard have been pretty general. I've heard a great deal of teaching about what Jesus says but not a lot upon our own personal failures to do as He said.

Seems to me there has to be balance point between Abba Dioscorus and our post-modern choice to ignore the idea of personal sin. These are 2 ends of continuum and the healthy middle is the place to be. It's that place where we confront ourselves, repent and turn around and choose to do and be different. Oh, it certainly doesn't happen overnight, nor, I think, in a lifetime. But we are all in this together and we can weep together and we can rejoice together.


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