A dear friend, who is a Russian monk, was among the earliest Orthodox clergy to visit in our mission in its first two years. Most of my parish had never met a monk, much less one who was as serious in demeanor. My son (now an adult) was then 11 years old and served in the altar. The monk had a simple way of correcting the altar servers (and occasionally parishioners who needed more instruction). His admonition (accompanied by pointing) was: “Don’t do that!” It quickly became a household phrase, sometimes with a Russian accent. It always brought a quick response and the desired obedience (caution – be careful if you try this yourself at home).
The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is, of course, the Godly maxim given to us all. But familiarity can sometimes make us forget to remember this commandment when it is most needed. In the Desert Fathers I found this small monastic paraphrase of the Rule – it has the ring of “don’t do that.” I hope you find it as effective as my family did.
Desert Hermits taught, “If there is any behavior you dislike in others, avoid it yourself. If you do not like receiving criticism, do not criticize another person. If slander upsets you, do not slander anyone. If you are troubled by aggressive, demeaning people, do not behave that way yourself.”
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