June 30

St John Cassian explains: “All other vices dwindle as we overcome them, and day by day become weaker in defeat…But [vainglory] rises again from defeat more eager for the fight, and when you think it is extinct, it recovers from its death all the more lively. Other types of vice normally only attack those whom they might defeat, whereas this one presses hardest on its conquerors. The more successfully we elude it, the harder it assaults us through our very joy in victory.”

Thus, vainglory “is far more dangerously deceptive to the unwary warrior.” Whoever undertakes the therapy of vainglory, then, will have to employ great spiritual discernment and constant watchfulness from start to finish.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.117)

June 29

One of the characteristic effects of godly sadness is its consoling gentleness, which paradoxically removes from mourning and affliction their painful character and appears as a clear sign of divine assistance and the presence of grace within the soul.

Thus St John Chrysostom observes: “The fruit [of] groans is great, and great is their persuasive and consoling gentleness…Indeed, constant groaning produces consolation.” And St John Climacus writes: “The abyss of mourning has seen comfort…Divine succour is the renewal of a soul depressed by grief which, in a wonderful way, transforms painful tears into painless ones.”

This naturally accords with the teaching of Christ: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”…

~Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.66)

June 28

“Nothing awakens us to the spiritual and causes us to live on that level as does mourning.” [St. Isaac the Syrian]  In other words, this virtue delivers the soul from the insensitivity, dryness, and hardness that sin had caused it to contract. It helps man to be constantly vigilant, and while always needing to be accompanied by prayer, it promotes prayer and contributes to making such intercession fertile.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.65)


What is despair,

but a sorrow without tears—

hope suspended,

a crying out, absent remorse.


Despair holds onto its pride,

and together we suffer.


Without repentance,

without humbling,

without accepting,

we live without healing.


I have seen the world’s evils,

magnitudes of anguish,

beyond my understanding,

and I’ve despaired.


What can I do?

I cannot change another,

I cannot topple governments,

or rescue nations.


I try to close my eyes and look away,

I’ve buried myself in television,

in pleasures to help me forget—

can I just pretend this life is pleasant?


After all, the sun is shining,

the rain falls on the good and the bad.

God’s mercies benefit us all,

and it is a beautiful day.


Yet, it was a glorious day in 1942,

clear blue skies with puffs of clouds,

as the crematoriums belched—

humans turned to ash.


And it is glorious still today,

with a light breeze,

the sounds of birds,

chirping in the trees.


Meanwhile in China—

living men and women,

their organs are harvested,

from their bodies, for profit.


We are free to do as we please,

this is God’s love for us I’m told,

we may exploit, dismember and torture—

we may despair, pretend or forgive.


On this beautiful day,

I don’t choose to despair,

I don’t choose to pretend,

I yearn for everyone to be healed.


What can I do for those who refuse to repent?

I feel I must repent in their place—

I must cry the tears they will not shed,

and beg forgiveness in their stead.


Let’s not despair,

nor seek to avoid,

though we might fight,

the evils of man towards man.


No, we must face these,

and when we do,

what choice have we but to embrace them,

with forgiving hearts—


Trembling and broken in our love,

taking these evils upon ourselves,

offering them to God,

offering ourselves to Him—


To be transformed, and made anew.



June 26

“Have you sinned? Be in mourning, and you will cause sin to disappear,” for “penthos erases sin.” “Sadness about sin purifies sin.” “If one is saddened after sinning, the sin disappears [and] the wrong is righted.” [St John Chrysostom]…this is the main and true end goal of sadness, and for this reason has God given it to man: “Its power is only for the destruction of sin by erasing it; God created it for no other reason.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.63)

June 25

Virtuous sadness, then, is not fundamentally of another nature than passionate sadness. It differs from the latter only in the aim which man assigns to it and the object on which it focuses….passionate sadness “is harsh, cruel, full of rancour and futile gloom, suffering in despair. When it seizes a man it breaks him and drags him away from any useful or salutary grief, being quite unreasonable”; but the “sorrow that works penance unto salvation…is obedient, genial, humble, docile, even-tempered and patient; it tirelessly applies itself to every sort of physical mortification and contrition of spirit, in its longing for perfection; it grows with a certain joy in hope of progress, and maintains that affable and tolerant even temper, for it contains within itself all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle enumerates them: ‘…charity, joy, peace, tolerance, goodness, kindness, faith, mildness, and self-control.'” [St. John Cassian]

~Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3 pp.58-59)

Little Sparks

Little spark,

cloaked in darkness,

waiting to come forth.


I cried a little,

when you began,

life touched me so.


Then I awoke,

the universe expanding,

my littleness fading.


Light called us out,

from the darkness,

and gave us eyes to see.


Wonder at our newfound life,

with breath abiding,

we’re sparks you and me.



skyward climbing,

hearts finding room to be.



The Doormats

Were I to love you with a perfect love,

laying my life before you,

in self-sacrifice;

would you understand me?


Prostrate at your feet,

ready to serve,

hoping you’ll open to my love;

would you shut the door?


When you gaze upon me,

in my simplicity,

do you see a human being;

or do you see a doormat?


Would you disarm,

and lay your power down;

or take it up,

and lay me lower?


Will you allow me to wash your feet,

surrender up your fears;

or will you trample me underfoot,

an obstacle to your ends?


I will be your doormat,

I would wash your feet—

nothing will be taken,

which isn’t freely given.


I will to love you with a perfect love,

laying my life before you.

Understand my actions—

I’m asking you to do the same.



June 19

Jesus Christ “proclaims as blessed those who mourn, but not those who do so for any human reason, as for the loss of some transitory good, but those who have Christian compunction, mourn their sorrows, and expiate their sins and even those of others.”

As for St John Cassian, he writes: “Therefore, apart from that sorrow which arises for the sake of saving penance, or from the desire of perfection, or the longing for what is to come, all [sadness] must be equally resisted, being worldly and pernicious, and quite excluded from our hearts.”

Thus, it is not a matter of abolishing every form of sadness, but only of the passion of sadness. Here again, putting an end to the passion does not mean putting an end to the function itself, but rather healing it, in order to allow it to recover its natural and normal use and to be exercised once again in healthy fashion.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.57-58)

June 18

In order to attach himself to spiritual goods, man must first of all have become aware that there exists “another beauty, other riches, other pleasures that are superior,” “true riches that procure immortal delights”, and that there is no wealth superior or worthy of preference to God’s Kingdom and glory. But this awareness, as St John Climacus points out, is only possible through the experience of spiritual realities. Man can attain to this experience only when he stops living an utterly carnal life and unites himself to God through love and the practice of the commandments. Only “the taste of God,” as St John Climacus states in very concrete terms, allows man to ascertain (in comparison to divine goods) the scant value of sensual “goods.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.37)