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The Holy Family in Prayer

Don’t talk badly about yourself

Abbot Serapion was visited by a monk who, at every word, called himself a sinner and unworthy of the religious habit he wore…

The holy abbot wanted to wash his feet, as was his custom with monks who did not belong to his community. The monk would not allow him to do so, protesting that he deserved to be trampled underfoot by everyone.

So, having seated him at table, Abbot Serapion offered him some food. Now, while the monk was eating, the abbot began to speak to him some words full of gentleness and inspired by sincere charity: “My son, he said to him, if you want to advance in religious perfection, stay quietly in your cell, watch over yourself and do your manual work. All these trips you make from one monastery to another, so many journeys in the desert, cannot contribute to your spiritual progress. God is no more easily found in any place than in your cell.”

The monk, on hearing these words, was so disturbed in his heart, that he could not help showing his agitation. Abbot Serapion noticed this: “Brother, he said to him, what do I see? Just now you declared yourself a great sinner, unworthy of this earth which bears you and of the air you breathe, and at this moment, on the occasion of a charitable reprimand I am giving you about your imperfections, you seem to me to be all troubled? You are mistaken, my good brother. If you wish to practice humility, you must not denounce your own defects. You must wait for others to reproach you for them; and when that happens, your duty is to receive these reproaches calmly, and even to rejoice in your heart.”

The monk, at this second rebuke, opened his eyes and distinguished from false humility that which has all its characters and to which is reserved the victory over all vanity. So he began to ask the abbot for forgiveness and returned to live in the solitude of his cell.

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