Ascesis

On Vanity, Vainglory and Futility

Vanity is self-idolatry. Vanity is a self-reflection. Vanity esteems itself as beautiful and worthy of display. This reflection of self is an empty thing. However, the naricissist cannot see his own emptiness. The vain man can only see his own surface. For him, his surface appeal is compelling. This is a passionate delusion. Vainglory is empty glory. The vainglorious man doxologises himself. His thoughts, words and deeds are an ongoing eulogy of self-praise based on false appearances. There is no substance to his appeal. He has only enchantment. He enchants himself and tries to bewitch those around him. He is diabolically captivated, for the demons do not want him to realise his own substance. Futile activity cannot last. A man will come to his senses. He will cease working in vain because he will see a problem with his aims and goals. Then, perhaps, he will begin to work for the Lord. When a man works for the Lord, he loses his vanity and vainglory. He achieves everything by the providence and grace of the Lord. Then he knows himself in his own substance.

Ascesis

On Righteous Anger

Righteous anger is an energetic and focussed opposition to sin. It involves a hatred for the evil one and all his ways. When the evil one suggests a sin, the righteous mind immediately reacts against it with dynamic strength. As one holy father said somewhere, such an incensed reaction shocks the demons, stopping them momentarily in their tracks. It buys the righteous mind a little time, so that a Christian man might prepare himself for the next temptation that will surely come. Righteous anger is the sudden expression of a man’s will. When a man desires to live righteously, he desires to rely on his Lord in all things. Usually, the temptation away from the Lord is presented to his mind as a picture, a sentiment, or a word-phrase. The righteous mind immediately recognises the blasphemy inherent in such things. The righteous mind loathes blasphemy, and repels these temptations in an habitually reflexive way. Righteous anger is a two-step process. Having projected himself outwardly – “Get behind me, satan!” – a righteous man returns to himself in prayer, seeking the rest and peace of the Lord: “Maranatha! Come, Lord!” and “Lord, have mercy!”. The peace and rest of the Lord is infused with a man’s fervent love for the Lord. This fervent love is the source of a man’s strength, of his incensive power. Such love is dynamic. Why? Having returned to himself, a righteous man prepares himself for the next temptation that will surely come. He prepares himself by renewing his repentance, and his repentance is always an active process. Righteous anger is grounded in a man’s dynamic love for his Lord. He does not want to lose this love, nor his connection to his Lord. He will bear with no blasphemy against his Beloved. He knows that the assault against himself is an assault against the image and likeness of his Lord that forms him. This blasphemy shocks and disgusts him. It offends his dignity, the nobility of his creation, as the work of God’s hands. If he is a repentant man, his indignation will then give way to sorrow, the memory of his own death, for he knows that he deserves his temptations and he deserves his death. But he knows that these temptations are permitted by the mercy of the Lord for the correction of his own soul, so that he may not die, but find life in the peace and rest of the Lord. His sorrow then gives way to gratitude to the Lord. Other graces, gifts of the Holy Spirit, may then quickly follow. He reforms in himself the image and likeness of his Lord. He restores unto himself the dignity and nobility of his own created nature, a work of God’s hands. Without repentance, anger against the evil one is not righteous, but merely human. Such human anger will not repel demons nor shield one from their temptations. But when anger is righteous, and a man’s repentance has been rewarded by fervent love,…