On the Idol of Caring What People Think

icon from Damascene Gallery

St. Ephrem the Syrian ca. 306-373

I have made shame an idol for myself…

A man’s neighbor has become his god: every moment he seeks to please him;

if he does wrong, he feels shame before him, if he does him an injury, he is afraid;

or if he does him some good, then he has spoiled that good by his thirst for praise.

Such a man has become an abject slave in all these ways.

The Good One gave us freedom, but we have reduced this to slavery.

May we exchange, for Your lordship, this overlord we have made for ourselves! (Hymns on Paradise, Hymn VII.31)

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