08 November 2010

Praise of the Just is Blame for the Unjust

It is a long trial he asks who asks a long life. For the life of man upon earth is a trial. By this alone are you just, that you acknowledge and proclaim you should be damned on account of your sins. If you say you are just, you are a liar (cf. 1 Saint John 2:4), and are condemned by the Lord, the Truth, as being contrary to Him. Say that you are a sinner, so that speaking the truth you may agree with the Lord, the Truth, you who need liberation (cf. Saint John 8:32).

You please yourself because you do not understand that you have nothing good from yourself. From yourself you have nothing but evil. Therefore you owe no thanks to yourself. All evil comes to you from yourself. And so you owe yourself great punishment as penalty. Be such a man as may be praised. For no one but a good man is truly praised (cf. Saint Matthew 19:10). And good he is not, who so wishes to be praised. Therefore he is not praised. When you are charming to your praiser, it is not really to your praiser that you are charming, for it is no longer you who are being praised. So vain are you. When one says: ‘How good, how just he is’, the one who is such is praised, not you who are not such. Rather, you are no little blamed, so bad and so unjust are you. For the praise of the just is blame for the unjust. Therefore blame for you, an unjust man. When, therefore, you applaud the just man's praiser, you are applauding your truest blamer, because you are unjust. For he is not just who thinks himself just. Not even if he be an infant of one day (cf. Job 14:5).

He who rejoices in praise loses the praise. If you love praise, love not the praises meant for a saint; that is, if you wish praise, wish not to be praised. For he cannot truly be praised who wishes praise. He receives praise whose good qualities are vaunted. But he who wishes to be praised is not only void of good, but is moreover full of great and diabolical evil, that is, arrogance. Hence he is not praised. The just man, on the contrary, is always praised, nor is there any blaming him. Blame really is a reproach for evils. But what the just man has not, for it he cannot be reproached. Hence he cannot be blamed. Without exception, all praise of the just is blame for the unjust, and all blame of the wicked is for the just true praise. When someone is praised for good, it profits not the one praised but the praiser.

~ Meditations of Guigo, Prior of the Charterhouse ~