Judging and Sentencing

Icon of Angel
Source: Wikimedia

One day, Abba Isaac the Theban went to a monastic community and he saw a brother doing wrong, and he condemned him. As he returned to the desert, an angel of the Lord came and stood in front of the door of his cell and said: “I will not let you in.”  He asked: “What’s the matter?”  And the angel replied: “God has sent me to ask you where he should cast the sinner on whom you passed judgment.” Immediately he repented and said: “I was wrong. Forgive me.” And the angel said: “Get up, God has forgiven you. In the future be sure not to judge someone before God passes judgment.”



    1. Pat, I find their stories insightful, relevant, and challenging. I am a wannabe desert disciple!

      Holy Week blessings to you and your community,


  1. I, too, love the Desert Fathers and Mothers. I have lived long enough and served in ordained ministry long enough to have learned that it is hard for us to separate “condemnation” and/or “judgmentalism” from “discernment” and “exercising good judgment” and/or “being accountable.” I wish we could recover a sense of what discernment means and how important that is in being in relationship and in maintaining the welfare of a community of faith. Our health as individuals and as communities of faith depends upon our willingness to use discernment in addressing the thorny issues that are part of human relationships and communal life.


    1. Scherry, you make an important distinction. Discernment offers an alternative to much of the legislating and labeling that underlies “judgmentalism” and “condemnation.” It is a slower and messier process but, I think, more faithful and healthy. Discernment seems to a communal context whereas judging and condemnation is often (not always) individualistic.

      Blessings on your Holy Week,


  2. As a novice in an Anglican Religious Community, I sometimes think that we all need to pay a bit more attention to the Desert Fathers and their sayings. There’s a lot of wisdom in amongst all these amazing anecdotes.


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