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  • Fr. Michael Gillis

Troublemakers Anonymous

"Even if your are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. Even if you cannot eradicate evil from your heart, do not let it out of your mouth." —St. Isaac the Syrian

We are all weak and broken in various ways. Yet we do not have to let our brokenness become an excuse to sin more, to create more brokenness. We may not be able to heal a broken relationship, but we don’t have to make it worse by picking at it, talking about it in disparaging ways, or by blaming, accusing and fault finding. We may not be able to stop vain or unworthy thoughts from entering our minds, but we do not have to let them out of our mouths. Telling the truth is not saying what I think (which is often merely stupidity). Honesty is saying what is true, good and beautiful, even if my mind does not grasp it fully. Speaking the truth is remaining silent when when I have nothing edifying to say. Speaking the truth is to say what is true in Christ even if that reality has not yet been manifest.

Love bears all things, believes [in spite of] all things, hopes [in God despite] all things, endures all things, St. Paul says to the Corinthians. We too, who have the young plants of love planted in our hearts, must learn to love. That is, the love in our hearts must pass into our words and actions. Or you might say that we must learn to turn the noun of love in our hearts into the verb of love in our deeds. But this is something we learn. Our hearts not only have little seedlings of love. Sin has also planted poisonous plants in the garden of our heart. The spiritual labor of prayer, holy reading and silence helps us to discern the plants in our garden. We nurture the good and turn away from the evil.

As we make our way through the broken world, we can become precious vessels of the Holy Spirit, peacemakers, bearers of Light and doers of Good. But this does not happen automatically. We have both nourishing and poisonous plants in the garden of our hearts. We must learn to discern, learn to be quiet, learn to “seek peace and pursue it.” This often requires us beginners to speak less, and sometimes not at all. When our words stir up and agitate the situation, we should keep them to ourselves–no matter how “true” they seem to be: for only a little bit of arsenic in a lot of good soup will kill those who eat it. Peace is our guide; “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And, of course, even if we cannot make peace, as St. Isaac says, at least we can be quiet and keep from becoming trouble makers.

This blog post originally appeared on Fr. Michael Gillis' blog, 'Praying in the Rain,' here:

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