When Insults No Longer Annoy

Amma Dionysia gave alms to a beggar, but less than he wanted. The beggar began to speak harshly to her, and Dionysia took offense, wanting to strike back.

Abba zosimas corrected her, saying, “You are striking against yourself. You are chasing every virtue from your soul. Can you endure what Christ endured? My lady, I know that you have given away your possessions as though they had no value. But until you become meek, you are like a metal smith pounding a bar of iron and failing to produce a useful object. You will know you have become meek when insults no longer annoy you.

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers

I read such stories and know how far I am from such meekness. I have a new set of CD’s with a retreat led by Igumen Jonah Paffhausen to which I am eagerly looking forward. However, I know that the beginning of his retreat is on the word, “Do not react.” It will be one more word on meekness. How will we ever inherit the earth?

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.


3 responses to “When Insults No Longer Annoy”

  1. Atlanta Avatar

    Thank you for this. Where was this retreat? It has been interesting to watch Igumen Jonah’s rise to prominence in the church. He is a great spiritual father, very strict. I couldn’t meet his standard. I agree with this post entirely, and this world is SO far from it. It is nearly impossible to uphold that standard of living.

  2. Lucy Avatar

    I have a CD series by him called “From Psychology to Spirituality.” Is this the same one? I have gotten so much out of it. I actually loaded it on my ipod and listen to it whenever I have time. He has the three displines: Do not resent, do not react, and keep inner stillness. So simple. So incredibly difficult, and for me at least, seemingly impossible. Fortunately, with God all things are possible.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts on the CDs!

  3. Lucias Avatar

    A good point. Meekness is indeed a challenging thing.

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