February 9, 2017

On the Passion of Suspicion

By Elder Daniel Katounakiotis

Suspicion in time of peace teaches disturbance and misunderstanding. Suspicion never knows the truth, even if the eyes see the truth and circumstances speak of kindness and love. Suspicion distorts everything and persuades its lover to be convinced of a lie rather than of a truth of what he sees.

Suspicion is a false and grotesque photographer, who in photographing distorts the image of the form before him....

When temptations occur to one who suffers from suspicion, whether from men or from God for his correction, or from natural coincidences, he assumes that such or such a person instigated them, freely censuring the one who is not responsible....

As a vivid depiction of this disastrous madness, I will dispassionately tell you of a reposed monk of Little Saint Anna's, Fr. Theophan. He, as we know, being completely conquered by this disease, separated himself from all his brothers and neighbors, declaring that everyone despised him, and that he alone knew what was right, and that the rest were worthy of abhorrence. He suffered this because his suspicions taught such things to him, and he submitted to them and relied on them.

If, my beloved, it happened for the moment that an Ecumenical Synod gathered by the Holy Fathers would condemn such as are deceived by their suspicions, they would never yield, maintaining that they are right and the Holy Fathers are wrong.

- Letter to Elder Kallinikos the Hesychast (2/1/1896)

Flee, brethren, from monster-breeding suspicion.

As much as this passion appears small and unimportant, so, on the other hand, if it is not checked, it can become great and bring disastrous consequences. This passion of suspicion is usually proposed to foolish and vain souls by the crafty serpent, for the reason that they are occupied by the passion of envy and remembrance of wrongs.

Therefore, when any brother yields to the suggestion of this passion, he will first get as a fellow-worker and advocate evil curiosity, and in consequence, whatever his thoughts suggest he will consider as a completed event....

When this passion becomes chronic, the enemy brings to the brother various fantasies suitable to the aim of leading him astray; and thus it happens that he loses his reason, from which may the All-Good God and Lord save us....

In order to prevent such an abominable passion, the brother must from the first beginning shun it as a deadly poison, exposing it to infamy through pure confession and self-reproach.

From Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos (vol. 1), pp. 315-316.