• 06:23
  • Sunday ,21 November 2010

Life of Virtue & Righteousness (20)

Pope Shenouda III

Pope Shenouda Article


Sunday ,21 November 2010

Life of Virtue & Righteousness (20)

 Pleasing and unpleasing souls
Pleasing souls are those who make the others happy.
   You may find great comfort and pleasure in talking with someone and wish the talk would extend, while with someone else you may count the minutes and wish the meeting would end. One is pleasing, and the other is boring!

   One may pass like a calm breeze of sweet aroma, while another is like a windy storm! 
   What is a pleasing soul like? What are its attributes? Why are some people pleasing, and some not?
   The first pleasing soul one meets is one's mother.
   A child finds comfort and safety in her warm bosom while suckling or seeing her kind looks, her smile, or her responses. Even a suckling can discern his mother or nurse from any other woman. In her arms the child smiles joyfully, cheerfully, and innocently, but cries when carried by any other woman!
   A child is very sensitive concerning people's features.
   A child does not get annoyed at words said, because he understands the features rather than the words, and discerns between the comforting look and the boring look, the cheerful features and the displeasing features. A mere look, a smiling face or tone of the voice makes a child happy, and he feels joyous with a person who plays with him. You should therefore have control over your features when meeting a child; beware reproach, for it makes the features unpleasing. Believe me the same applies to adults as well. They also need to deal with pleasing souls. They become peaceful when seeing a person with comforting features and gentle way of dealing. Sometimes you feel uncomfortable when meeting someone for the first time, maybe because of his features, the tone of his voice, his movements, or his shape in general. You cannot feel confidence or trust in him! Sometimes, when choosing friends, you may feel attracted towards a certain person, and feel as if you knew him long ago, while you feel dislike towards another person!
   We can say the same concerning physicians. 
   A patient may feel comfortable towards a certain physician, seeing that he is cheerful, he explains clearly the disease and the treatment, and gives hope even in cases of serious diseases. The patient feels himself in safe hands, with a compassionate heart.
   The same applies to the father confessors.
   A comforting father confessor knows the mentality and the circumstances of the confessing person, and the wars fighting him, and gives him the suitable and applicable guidance that leads calmly and gradually to repentance and spirituality, and makes a person feel his love and compassion. He opens before him the door of hope in spite of his sins, and encourages him to speak frankly with trust.
   An uncomfortable father confessor, on the contrary, makes a person confused and even afraid to confess. He fears his reproach and cruelty, and fears lest he misunderstand him, deprive him of communion, or inflict hard punishment on him! On the other hand, the punishment inflicted by a comforting father confessor will be bearable, after convincing the person of its benefit to correct his life and relieve his conscience.
   Some attributes of the pleasing souls: 
   People love cheerfulness, and love a cheerful person who flows of his peace of heart on whoever meets with him; for cheerfulness is transmitted from one soul to another. Examples of cheerful people are the caricature artists who draw cheerful drawings with a nice joke, so long as the joke is nice, innocent, and not hurting. Photographers therefore usually ask people to smile before taking a photo, for a smiling face is pleasing to whoever sees it! However, the smile of some people is not true, while others are by nature smiling and cheerful on all occasions.
   Meek and calm people are pleasant, because they cause calmness even when matters are complicated. They relieve the others and alleviate the effect of difficulties, spreading peace and calmness. Such people are easy to deal with, because they take matters simply, and cause nobody to be angry.
   Those who bring good news to the others are pleasing souls, giving hope. That is why the Scripture says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news" (Isa 52: 7; Na 1: 15) On the contrary, those who bring bad news to the others are considered like owls bringing bad omens. Among those are people who bring news with annoying comments that cause trouble.
   Newspapers give different news, some are comforting, and some annoying. These terrify people and make them expect dangers and disasters! 
   Those who do good are pleasing souls. Beautiful are the words describing the Lord Christ that He went about doing good (Acts 10: 38), He preached the Gospel and healed all diseases and weaknesses (Mt 4: 23)! His disciples did the same, and the saints in every generation do good to everybody.
   People love them who do something good for them.
   They do not like those who make things complicated, or who can do good but do not do, while the Scripture says, "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard." (Prov 21: 13)
   Attributes of unpleasing souls:
1. Cruelty in speaking and judging, addressing wrongdoings in a way that makes the erroneous person troubled instead of strengthening him, or leads him to break down and mean-spiritedness. It is the way of some parents in reproving and punishing their children, causing them to seek a compassionate heart outside home, with the dangerous results of that. This also may be the way of some managers who inflict penalties for the slightest faults, or supervisors of training or personal tests who judge a person as unqualified, or some teachers who students fear to fall in their hands!
However, there are good examples that Archdeacon Habib Gerguis describes by the words: 
 O you wise person who chastise,
 With loving reproach and kind voice.
 Your ways are pure and honest,
 Only good words your tongue utter.
 Never have you blamed anybody,
 Nor remembered bad things that occurred.
 But with love and encouragement you correct,
 And grave faces are turned smiling.
Pleasing souls avoid disturbance, unlike unpleasing souls, especially within the family, who spread an atmosphere of grief and sadness at home leading some of the family members to seek their peace away from home, or causing a couple to end in the court or the clerical council. Some of this type are always inquiring and pressing to know all details: What did you do? Where have you been? Whom did you meet? What was the subject of your talk? What did they say? What did you say? …. Such a person, without any right, continues pressing, not caring about the feelings of the others even they are apparently annoyed! People usually try to avoid such people.
2. Unpleasing souls also interfere with the others' private matters.
Every person likes to keep his private matters confidential. 
In western countries, for instance, the parents cannot open the letters of their children, nor the husband his wife's. However, out of love and good relations one may willingly disclose the content of one's letters or part of them to the others.
More troublesome yet are the acquaintances who intrude without any right, in an annoying way, on the privacy of the others, whether related to their family or work, as if watching their movements. They trouble them with questions or send someone to bring them their news! If one keeps silent, they accuse him of lack of love and faithful friendship. They continue pressing to know the secret and know if it is a serious or a wrong thing, offering to help with advice! Such an intervention is unacceptable and annoying, breaking relationships. 
3. Doubting is a characteristic of the unpleasing souls. Some people are by nature doubtful concerning the others and their love and truthfulness. They may even suspect their words, their news, and their conduct, and such suspect appears in their tone, their looks, and their inquiries. Hardly can anybody accept to be an object of suspect, therefore people avoid such a person, feeling that he lacks love, because the Scripture says, "love thinks no evil" (1 Cor 13: 5).
4. The opposite goes with respect to those who trust and respect the others. These are pleasing souls. Trust brings about trust and shows respect, which in turn brings about respect. In this way people can live peacefully with each other, trusting each other.
5. Persistence and arguing are characteristics of the unpleasing souls who persist and press whenever they want something from anybody. They continue pressing every day, and many times a day, not giving the other person a chance to consider or to apologize. Maybe what they want is beyond that person's power or against his conscience, and this makes him avoid seeing them by every means!
Sometimes such people press to know some private matters, as was the case with Delilah when she wanted to know the secret behind the strength of Samson (Judges 16)!
6. Another characteristic of the unpleasing souls is imposing their views, trying to change the minds or the actions according to their own mind or planning. This forms a pressure on the others' freedom by something like domination. This may happen from the parents when giving their daughter in marriage to someone she does not like, which may lead to a miserable or unsuccessful marital life.
7. Much arguing is another characteristic. They take nothing easily, however simple it may be, but argue for a long time concerning every thought and every action, causing fatigue and waste of time.
Nobody should open a discussion with such people or give them an opinion, for their futile argument will not end. One should cut the discussion if they start arguing by giving general answers or expressing lack of knowledge on the matter. True are the words, "Do all things without complaining and disputing." (Phil 2: 14) Such long arguments are boring and may not be worth effort. 
My advice is, 'Do not argue except concerning an important or a serious matter. Make sure whether the other party accepts the argument or not, for the apostle says, "Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife." (2 Tim 2: 23)
The purpose of arguing may be to impose one's own opinion.
This is like one trying to impose his own opinion in management, or on the church affairs for instance, be he a member of the Church Board or even an ordinary person, claiming knowledge of such matters and the right to speak up!
Sometimes, to impose one's opinion, one joins it with threatening and defaming!
8. Some unpleasing souls do not care about the time of the others, and whether they are busy or not, insisting and leaving them no chance to apologize for lack of time or to postpone for important involvements, deeming the matter does not accept postponement. It may happen that one forcibly listens, but finally finds the matter is not worth all that!
Some people may ask something you cannot bear to fulfill because of your physical condition, or speak to you while you are sick. They do not stop talking, causing you harm, and not responding to your attempts to postpone or to explain your inability! They do not care about the comfort of the others, and this makes the others avoid talking with them afterwards.
Some others make visits at the time of the final exams of the students, and they speak loudly and make noise, not caring about the feelings of the students during such period of exams. Others hold parties and raise the sound of microphones making much noise annoying everybody. 
9.  Anger is a characteristic of some troublesome souls, for they are easily and quickly aroused, sometimes for no reasonable cause, and in some case anger is accompanied by faults, insults, or aggression. You should keep away from such people to avoid their evil, as the Scripture says, "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go." (Prov 22: 24)