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12 - DISCIPLINE OF THE MEMORY AND IMAGINATION: SINS OF MEMORY

SINS OF MEMORY:

The remembrance of old evils
In the Liturgy, we pray that God may cleanse us form “the remembrance of evil that entails death.” Remembrance of evil here means remembering either an evil that I did in the past or some evil done by another person against me.

Sexual immorality:

The memory of sins committed in the past can come back to haunt us even after we stopped doing them. Some of the great saints of the desert suffered for many years of this. Saint Moses the Black was tormented by thoughts about his past evils for a long time. Amma Sarah, who was a nun contemporary with St. Macarius the Great, fought against these thoughts for 14 years, before the Lord granted her freedom from these assaults.
Sexually immoral pictures or movies that we see on TV or the Net are firmly imprinted in the memory and they usually come to offend us violently.

Anger:

I may have had an argument or a fight with someone, and even if we were reconciled, remembering what happened in the past can excite in us thoughts of anger and revenge that can be distressing. The devil can make things look and sound much worse than they really were. Many married couples live in misery because of this. A little argument in the morning before going to work is usually used by the devil very effectively. While at work, the devil causes the incident to be recalled in both their minds. Passionate feelings of anger and indignation are thus implanted in both their minds, so that when they come home, the little argument of the morning becomes a big fight that may rob both of them of their inner peace for weeks. How do you think divorces start? Some people even remember things deep in the past and recall them every time an argument happens. For example, a couple may be married for 10 years or more, and every time they have an argument, the wife reminds the husband of something he did (or did not) while they were on their honeymoon!The husband may also do the same and remind her of something her mother said while they were engaged!

Judging:

You may have witnessed or heard something done by another person and you immediately judge that person. You may have even repented and confessed about judging that person, but the matter is not closed. Every time you meet that person you remember what he or she did and you start judging that person once again in your mind. It is quite possible that this person too might have repented and confessed about whatever he/she did, he/she may have even forgotten it (as we should when we repent and confess) and yet you keep falling into the sin of judging him or her by the remembrance of evil.

Vainglory:

sometimes we do something that seems good to us. For example, I may have helped reconcile two people, but later on I keep recalling all the “wise words” that I said to them, and revel and bask in the glory, telling myself, “Aren’t I great?!” A Sunday School teacher may have been given grace in giving a lesson to his/her class. This grace is usually given for the sake of the children and not because of the excellence of the teacher, but he or she starts to recall every word that was said and the heart is filled with self gratification as if the words are coming from self and not from God.
Let me give you an exercise to fight this temptation. As soon as these memories start rising up in your mind, remember that the Lord used an ass (donkey) to rebuke the prophet Balaam. (Num 22:21-43, 2 Pe 2:14-15) Tell yourself, I have no more right to glory in my words than the donkey of Balaam!

 


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