Church Fathers, Day 153: St. John Chrysostom tells us to give praise instead of blasphemy

Give praise instead of blasphemy “I can’t help it,” we often say when we’ve cursed and used bad language. St. John Chrysostom has a practical suggestion: if you can’t help saying something when you get hurt, teach yourself to speak in thanksgiving instead of blasphemy. But, you say, you are not able to be silent when goaded by pain. And I do not hinder you from speaking. But instead of blasphemy, speak praise. Instead of discontent, express thankfulness. Make confession to your Master; cry … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 152: St. Ambrose tells us to ignore insults and keep silent

Ignore insults and keep silent Is someone abusing or insulting you? Best to keep silent, says St. Ambrose. You will keep yourself from sin, and people will think better of you. But we must also guard against anyone who provokes us, and spurs us on, and exasperates us, and supplies what will excite us to licentiousness or lust. So if anyone reviles us, irritates, stirs us up to violence, tries to make us quarrel— let us keep silence. Let us not be ashamed to become mute. For whoever irritates … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 151: St. Ambrose advises us to not return insult for insult

Don’t return insult for insult The devil tempts us to snap back when someone insults us, says St. Ambrose. Or, often enough, the devil doesn’t have to do it, because someone else is willing to whisper in our ears. But we will always come out on top if we keep cool and silent. So, then, you should also guard your humility. But if you are unwilling to appear too humble, you think like this, saying to yourself, “Am I supposed to let this man despise me, and say such things to my face against me, … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 150: St. Ephrem tells us to run away from mockery

Run away from mockery Making fun of people makes us like Satan, says St. Ephrem the Syrian. Not only should we avoid doing it ourselves, but we should flee if we even hear mockery. If you love derision, you are just like Satan; and if you mock your fellow, you are the mouth of the devil. If you delight in calling people names because of their defects and flaws, Satan is not in creation but you have seized his place by force. Run far away from this! For it is altogether hurtful. If you want … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 149: Hermas advises us to not listen to slander

Don’t even listen to slander The visionary Shepherd of Hermas was a very influential book in early Christian times. Here the writer is commanded to keep away from slander. Even listening to malicious gossip makes you part of the sin. Be simple and guileless, and you will be like children who don’t know the wickedness that ruins man’s life. First, do not speak evil of anyone, and do not listen with pleasure to anyone who speaks evil of another. If you do listen, you will share in the sin o … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 148: St. Clement tells us to tell good jokes from bad


Learn to tell good jokes from bad It’s quite reasonable to joke about people when you know it will actually make them feel good, says St. Clement of Alexandria. But making fun of people is a dangerous sport, and one a Christian needs to avoid. Older people, looking on the young as children, may (though very rarely) be playful with them, joking with them to train them in good behavior. For exam­ple, if you’re with a bashful and silent young man, you might jokingly say, “This son of mine is alw … [Read more...]