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Those Who Sow Strife
Faith

The Crossroads at 23rd Street

 

"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)

 

Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

The Book of Pastoral Care: Part III, Chapter 23:

Those who sow strife and those who are peacemakers

By Pope St Gregory the Great

 


Those who sow strife and those who are peacemakers should be advised differently. For those who sow strife should be advised that they learn (understand) who it is that they are following. Indeed, concerning the apostate angel, it is written, when thorns had been inserted among the good crop: “an enemy has done this.” (St. Matthew 13:28)

And concerning one of his members, it is said through Solomon: “An apostate, a useless man walks with a perverse mouth, winks with his eyes, and presses with his foot. He speaks with his finger, devises evil with an impoverished heart, and continuously sows strife. (Proverbs 6:12-14; i.e. pointing with his finger in an accusatory manner)

Notice that the one whom he wants to describe as a sower of strife, he first identified as an apostate. This is because he would not come to the point where he would intentionally sow strife outwardly unless he had already, like the fallen angel, previously fallen away from the face of his Maker through an internal aversion of the mind.

And he is rightly described as “winking with his eyes, speaking with his finger, and pressing with his foot.” For it is well ordering of the internal [soul] that keeps the external members in order. Therefore, the one who has lost the stability of his mind subsequently slips into undisciplined motion and indicates by his external motions that he has lost the internal control of self.

Let the sower of strife hear what is written: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” On the other hand, let them recognize that if those who make peace are called the “sons of God”, then those who confound it are the sons of Satan.

Moreover, all those who separate themselves, through discord, from the lifeline of love will wither and die. Even if the fruit of good works is produced through their actions, they are not responsible for this production because they did not spring from the unity of charity.

Therefore, let the sowers of strife consider the extent to which they sin. For when they perpetrate this particular sin, they also eradicate every virtue that they may have in their heart. For in this one evil, they beget many others, because by sowing strife the extinguish charity, which is the mother of all virtues.

And because nothing is more revered by God than the virtue of charity, nothing is more desired by the devil than the extinction of charity.

Therefore, whoever destroys the charity of his neighbor by sowing strife acts as though he were in the service of God’s enemy. For he takes from their hearts this very virtue, which the devil lost before his fall, and he cuts them off from the path by which they might return.

On the Other hand, the peacemaker should be advised that they not undermine the significance of their action by ignoring where they ought to build peace. For just as it is important to build unity among th good, it is equally as important that there not be unity among the wicked.

For if the iniquity of the perverse is united in peace, the influence of their wickedness is certain to spread; for the more they agree in evil, the more they will oppose good and afflict it.

Thus, is was for this reason that the divine Voce said to Job against the preachers of that vessel of damnation (i.e. the Antichrist): “The members of his flesh cleave to one another.” (Job 41:14; e.g. Gregory typically interprets Leviathan to signify the devil.)

Thus, under the appearance of armor, it is said of his satellites: “One is joined to another so that not even air can come between them.” (Job 41:7-8; e.g. “satellites” refer to the minions of Satan pooling their resources.)

For when [Satan’s] followers have no discord among themselves, they are that much more enabled for the slaughter of the good. Therefore, he who brings peace between the wicked strengthens the power of iniquity, because they will be all the more able to suppress the good, whome they persecute unanimously.

Hence, the great preacher who suffered greatly under the Pharisees and Sadducees, when he saw that they were violently united against him, determined to separate them as he cried out, saying: “Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of the Pharisees, and I have been judged concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6)

For whereas the Sadducees denied the hope and resurrection of the dead, the Pharisees believed in both, in accordance with sacred Writ, and as a consequence, a dissention emerged among the persecutors and Paul escaped unhurt from the divided court, which when previously united has assailed him greatly.

Moreover, those who are occupied by a desire to make peace should be advised that they should first instill love for internal peace among the minds of the wicked, for only then will they be able to enjoy the benefits of external peace. For, while their hearts are suspended in the consideration of internal peace, they will not be seized into wickedness by their adoption of the latter. And as they prepare themselves for heavenly peace, they will in no way allow a desire for earthly peace to be the cause for sliding back into sin.

In those cases where the wicked are unable to harm the good, even though they might wish to do so, an earthly peace should be established as quickly as possible, even before they learn about heavenly peace.

In this way, those who through their impiety remained opposed to the love of God will at least become more gentle out of love for their neighbor.

And hopefully, they will proceed from their current condition to one that is better and ultimately asczend to that peace that is currently far from them … that is, the peace of their Maker.

 

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