Three Kinds of Lies

THERE ARE THREE kinds of liar: those who lie with their thoughts, those who lie with words and those who lie with their very lives.

The liar of thought, for example, is the individual who is suspicious. If he sees two people talking, he immediately imagines they are talking about him. If they break off their conversation, he is convinced they are doing so because they have seen him coming. Whatever other people may say he interprets as an attack on himself. Such a person does not look for the truth but feeds on conjecture. Hence indiscreet curiosity, scandal-mongering, the habit of eavesdropping, of picking quarrels, of making rash judgements.

The liar of the tongue, for example, is the lazy person who gets up late in the morning and instead of saying ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been a fool,’ spins a yarn about having been ill and unable to stand up properly. Or else it is the person who wants something but instead of saying ‘I want one of those’ makes a palaver of it with the words: ‘I am feeling ill, I need this, or that. . . ‘

Lastly there are the liars with their lives: a profligate who pretends to be chaste, a miser who praises love for the poor … they are two-faced people, their outward appearance quite different from the inward reality. The whole existence is duplicity, a kind of acting.

Dorotheus of Gaza Teachings, 9 (SC92 PP-32Iff.)

Few Manage to Stem
the Gossiping Tongue

Garrulousness is the rostrum from which vainglory preaches itself.

Garrulousness is a proof of ignorance, the door to scandal-mongering, the handmaid of trifling scurrilities and the helpmeet of falsehood.

It destroys the spirit of penance, gives rise to boredom, predisposes to lethargy, destroys recollection, distracts attention, obliterates fervour and cuts off prayer.

Silence on the other hand is the mother of prayer. It frees the prisoner; it guards the divine flame; it watches over reasoning; it protects the sense of penitence.

Few are they who manage to dam the rush of water. Still fewer are they who are able to stem the gossiping tongue.

John Climacus Stairway to Paradise, ii (PG88, 852)