The Third Monday of Great Lent: God Tests us by our Conscience & The Wolves of Anger
God Tests us by our Conscience
The tree of life represents the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as St Paul says: ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?’ [1 Cor. 6:19]
The tree of knowledge of good and evil represents our senses which produce contrasting fruits: pleasure and pain.
Each of these is divided again into two: there is pleasure arising from natural needs, and there is pleasure resulting from debauchery; then there is pain consisting of fear and sorrow, and there is pain coming as a consequence of struggle and spiritual burdens. The fruits are good if we pluck them, keeping close to nature at the right season.
God has planted this tree in our hearts, this sense of good and evil, for a good purpose: to test us, to make trial of our obedience, to give us the opportunity to live in accordance with nature or not, as we choose, and to follow what leads to perfection or what leads to imperfection.
Niceta Stethatus The Spiritual Paradise, 5 (SC8, pp.40ff.)
The Wolves of Anger
‘Loss of temper is the beginning of anger. Real anger arises when bad temper gives place to the desire for revenge.’
‘The devil has a habit of making the heart of an individual angry and quarrelsome when he sees another person concerning himself with him in an act of love.’
In the Book of Clement it is said:
‘There is a kind of anger that upsets the mind and makes it lose its equilibrium in argument. But there is a right and proper anger: if one is angry with oneself and accuses oneself of one’s own mistakes and one’s own false acts.’
In the Lives of the Fathers it is said:
‘Sullen angry eyes betray the anger of the heart. In the soul that keeps the score of evils done to it, there dwell wolves.
‘Just as smoke hurts the eyes, so the memory of these injuries hurts one’s prayer. The prayer of an angry person is abominably turbulent. The psalm singing of someone who is irritated is a disagreeable noise.’
Defensor Grammaticus Book of Sparkling Sayings, 19 (SC77, pp.292ff.)
~ Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, A Patristic Breviary: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World