Excessive Grief Over Sin is Not a Virtue

From chapter five of Unseen Warfare, translated by Saint Theophan

On the wrong opinion of those who deem excessive grief a virtue

It is wrong to regard as a virtue the excessive grief which men feel after committing a sin, not realising that it is caused by pride and a high opinion of themselves, based on the fact that they rely too much on themselves and their own powers. For by thinking that they are something important they undertake too much, hoping to deal with it by themselves.

When the experience of their downfall shows them how weak they are, they are astounded, like people who meet with something unexpected, and they are cast into turmoil and grow faint-hearted. For they see, fallen and prone on the ground, that graven image which is themselves, upon which they put all their hopes and expectations.

This does not happen to a humble man who trusts in God alone, expecting nothing good from himself. Therefore, when he falls into some transgression, he also feels the weight of it and grieves – but is not cast into turmoil and is not perplexed, for he knows that it happened through his own impotence, an experience in downfalls which is nothing unexpected or new to him.

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