We live by revelations, as Christians, as artists, which means we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds. The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget all the questions and we become like the pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men.
I get some very fierce anonymous letters about the Athanasian Creed, which would amuse you, if they were not so sad as to what they imply on the part of the writers. The last tells me that I am a Pharisee, and should have helped to crucify our Lord. It is very odd that people should think, much more write, such things; but the passion of unbelief is a very serious thing while it lasts.
Henry Parry Liddon
But the vicar of St. Botolph's had certainly escaped the slightest tincture of the Pharisee, and by dint of admitting to himself that he was too much as other men were, he had become remarkably unlike them in this - that he could excuse others for thinking slightly of him, and could judge impartially of their conduct even when it told against him. [from Middlemarch, a quote my mother thinks describes the kind of man my father was]
Pharisaism became Talmudism...But the spirit of the Ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew...studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies. From Palestine to Babylonia; from Babylonia to North Africa, Italy, Spain, France and Germany; from these to Poland, Russia and eastern Europe generally, ancient Pharisaism has wandered...
Knapsack of the Metaphysicians.- Those who boast so mightily of the scientificality of their metaphysics should receive no answer; it is enough to pluck at the bundle which, with a certain degree of embarrassment, they keep concealed behind their back; if one succeeds in opening it, the products of that scientificality come to light, attended by their blushes: a dear little Lord God, a nice little immortality, perhaps a certain quantity of spiritualism, and in any event a whole tangled heap of 'wretched poor sinner' and Pharisee arrogance.
We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds. The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men. Unamuno might be describing the artist as well as the Christian as he writes, "Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.
Gluttony should be destroyed by self-control; unchastity by desire for God and longing for the blessings held in store; avarice by compassion for the poor; anger by goodwill and love for all men; worldly dejection by spiritual joy; listlessness by patience, perseverance and offering thanks to God; self-esteem by doing good in secret and by praying constantly with a contrite heart; and pride by not judging or despising anyone in the manner of the boastful Pharisee (cf. Lk. 18:11-12), and by considering oneself the least of all men.
John of Damascus
As Christ's ministry drew to its close, its severity and its gentleness both increased; its severity to the class from whom it never turned away. Side by side through all His manifestations of Himself, there were the two aspects: "He showed Himself froward " (if I may quote the word) to the self-righteous and the Pharisee; and He bent with more than a woman's tenderness of 'yearning love over the darkness and sinfulness, which in its great darkness dimly knew itself blind, and in its sinfulness stretched out a lame hand of faith, and groped after a Divine deliverer.
The Talmud derives its authority from the position held by the ancient (Pharisee) academies. The teachers of those academies, both of Babylonia and of Palestine, were considered the rightful successors of the older Sanhedrin...At the present time, the Jewish people have no living central authority comparable in status to the ancient Sanhedrins or the later academies. Therefore, any decision regarding the Jewish religion must be based on the Talmud as the final resume of the teaching of those authorities when they existed.
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they have earned God's blessing through their behavior. Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God's blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience. Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God.
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is - I repeat it - a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.
He came to put a harlot above a Pharisee, a penitent robber above a High Priest, and a prodigal son above his exemplary brother. To all the phonies and fakers who would say that they could not join the Church because His Church was not holy enough, He would ask, 'How holy must the Church be before you will enter into it?' If the Church were as holy as they wanted it to be, they would never be allowed into it! In every other religion under the sun, in every Eastern religion from Buddhism to Confucianism, there must always be some purification before one can commune with God. But Our Blessed Lord brought a religion where the admission of sin is the condition of coming to Him. 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are ill.
Fulton J. Sheen
One of the most difficult defilements of the spirit to deal with is the critical spirit. A critical spirit has its root in pride. Because of the 'plank' of pride in our own eye we are not capable of dealing with the 'speck' of need in someone else. We are often like the Pharisee who, completely unconscious of his own need prayed "God, I thank you that I am not like other men" (Luke 18:11). We are quick to see - and to speak of - the faults of others, but slow to see our own needs. How sweetly we relish the opportunity to speak critically of someone else - even when we are unsure of the facts. We forge that "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" by criticizing one to another is one of the "six thing which the Lord hates" (Proverbs 6:16-19)
A true Christian is made by faith and love toward Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Savior Himself. He deigned to say: not the righteous have I come to call, but sinners to salvation; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents than over ninety righteous ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He deigned to say to the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love, even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgments a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here one needs the shield of faith.
Letters of St. Herman of Alaska
Everything that isn't gospel is law. Let us say it again: Everything that isn't gospel is law. Every way we try to make our kids good that isn't rooted in the good news of the life, death, ressurection, and assension of Jesus Christ is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law. We won't get the results we want from the law. We'll get either shallow self-righteousness or blazing rebellion or both (frequently from the same kid on the same day!). We'll get moralistic kids who are cold and hypocritical and who look down on others (and could easily become Mormons), or you'll get teens who are rebellious and self-indulgent and who can't wait to get out of the house. We have to remember that in the life of our unregenerate children, the law is given for one reason only: to crush their self-confidence and drive them to Christ.
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
The nice people do not come to God, because they think they are good through their own merits or bad through inherited instincts. If they do good, they believe they are to receive the credit for it; if they do evil, they deny that it is their own fault. They are good through their own goodheartedness, they say; but they are bad because they are misfortunate, either in their economic life or through an inheritance of evil genes from their grandparents. The nice people rarely come to God; they take their moral tone from the society in which they live. Like the Pharisee in front of the temple, they believe themselves to be very respectable citizens. Elegance is their test of virtue; to them, the moral is the aesthetic, the evil is the ugly. Every move they make is dictated, not by a love of goodness, but by the influence of their age. Their intellects are cultivated-in knowledge of current events; they read only the bestsellers, but their hearts are undisciplined. They say that they would go to church if the Church were only better-but they never tell you how much better the Church must be before they will join it. They sometimes condemn the gross sins of society, such as murder; they are not tempted to these because they fear the opprobrium which comes to them who commit them. By avoiding the sins which society condemns, they escape reproach, they consider themselves good par excellence.
Fulton J. Sheen
it takes great humility to find oneself unjustly condemned and be silent, and to do this is to imitate the Lord Who set us free from all our sins... The truly humble person will have a genuine desire to be thought little of, and persecuted, and condemned unjustly, even in serious matters... It is a great help to meditate upon the great gain which in any case this is bound to bring us, and to realize how, properly speaking, we can never be blamed unjustly, since we are always full of faults, and a just man falls seven times a day, so that it would be a falsehood for us to say we have no sin. If, then, we are not to blame for the thing that we are accused of, we are never wholly without blame in the way that our good Jesus was... Thou knowest, my Good, that if there is anything good in me it comes from no other hands than Thine own. For what is it to Thee, Lord, to give much instead of little? True, I do not deserve it, but neither have I deserved the favors which Thou hast shown me already. Can it be that I should wish a thing so evil as myself to be thought well of by anyone, when they have said such wicked things of Thee, Who art good above all other good?... Do Thou give me light and make me truly to desire that all should hate me, since I have so often let Thee, Who hast loved me with such faithfulness... What does it matter to us if we are blamed by them all, provided we are without blame in the sight of the Lord?... meditate upon what is real and upon what is not... Do you suppose, ... that, if you do not make excuses for yourself, there will not be someone else who will defend you? Remember how the Lord took the Magdalen's part in the Pharisee's house and also when her sister blamed her. He will not treat you as rigorously as He treated Himself: it was not until He was on the Cross that He had even a thief to defend Him. His Majesty, then, will put it into somebody's mind to defend you; if He does not, it will be because there is no need... be glad when you are blamed, and in due time you will see what profit you experience in your souls. For it is in this way that you will begin to gain freedom; soon you will not care if they speak ill or well of you; it will seem like someone else's business... So here: it becomes such a habit with us not to reply that it seems as if they are not addressing us at all. This may seem impossible to those of us who are very sensitive and not capable of great mortification. It is indeed difficult at first, but I know that, with the Lord's help, the gradual attainment of this freedom, and of renunciation and self-detachment, is quite possible.
Saint Teresa of Avila