Reflections (c. 6th century)

The Reflections by Abba Zosimas is an interesting book. It was written by a sixth-century monk, likely Dorotheus, a disciple of Zosimas. In it, Dorotheus records how Zosimas stressed humility and bearing insult. According to Zosimas, whenever someone speaks badly of you, you are to respond with humility, avoiding offense at all cost. He speaks of “weaving” insult, and that those who weave insults against you are not the enemy, but represent an opportunity to show the love of God. In a pastoral sense, reading Zosimas today presents a slight problem, I think, because he advocates bearing with those who harm us. And we know that there are certain circumstances from which we must remove ourselves—e.g., abusive relationships. The speaking in his context, does not he wants between physical harm and emotional/spiritual harm. But it seems clear that Zosimas is speaking of those who would do emotional harm. In that sense, it seems helpful to take Zosimas at his word. Again and again, he says that if we allow ourselves to be offended, and dwell on the person who does us harm, we harm ourselves. That is, in meditating on the harm done to us, we are really harming ourselves. He says that the demons needn’t approach us when we are in the state of thinking on those with harmed us, because we are doing the demons work for them. Here he is consistent with Evagrius, who notes the potential dangers of obsessing about any one of the eight thoughts (logismoi). The thoughts are what send us down a bad road. So Zosimas counsels humility and kenotic love to overcome the bad thoughts.

One response to “Reflections (c. 6th century)

  1. Pingback: In the Heart of the Desert (2008) | Three New, One Old·

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