March 16, 2013

Blaming Others For Our Sins (St. Mark the Ascetic)

By St. Mark the Ascetic

Listen, rational soul, partner in all my deliberations, I wish to explain to you a certain mysterious and ordinary matter. I have undertaken this without having been cleansed of passions, but I am, by the grace of Christ, nevertheless, devoting myself to it for a short while.

I am fully aware, dear soul, that both you and I, naturally influenced by ignorance, are prone to error and on account of this blame others for our sins, saying that the evil lies outside us. Sometimes we lay the blame on Adam, while at other times Satan, and other times other people. In doing so we imagine that we are waging war against others, while we are really waging war against ourselves.

Thinking that we are protecting one another, you and I are in reality fighting against each other; believing that we are benefiting one another, we are really harming each other, like a madman with his self-inflicted wounds, rightly enduring useless articulations and reproaches. We appear to love the commandments, but because of error we hate what informs them.

Because of this, I clearly see now that we are not drawn wrongfully into either evil or good by some sort of power; on the contrary, from the time we are baptized, when we undertake any kind of endeavor using our free will we serve either God or the Devil, and one or the other quite rightly compels us to take his side.

From Counsels on the Spiritual Life.