I John 2: 1-6 – Jesus our Advocate, Chapter 2: 1-6

March 11th, 2016

How wonderful is the Gospel of God that calls sinners to repentant Faith in the following of Jesus.

This section will sound a lot like the Epistle of James that probably was written before the works of John here ~

1  My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

2  and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

3  And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4  He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

5  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

6  he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

God speaks to us through St. John in order that we may not sin; but, as in the case of human weakness, we do have a “Parakletos” – One who stands beside us – an “Advocate” – our Counselor with the Father – and He calls Himself, “Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”

I hear again the words of Jesus, dear one; as He spoke to His disciples during His Passion from chapter 16 of the Gospel of John.

13  But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you.
14  He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you.
15  All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall abbaetmariareceive of mine, and shew it to you.
16  A little while, and now you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me: because I go to the Father.
17  Then some of the disciples said one to another: What is this that he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me, and, because I go to the Father?
18  They said therefore: What is this that he saith, A little while? we know not what he speaketh.
19  And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask him; and he said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: A little while, and you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me?
20  Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

And, He told them with us as well:

26  But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.
27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.

You see that we have nothing to FEAR – but we ought to seek His WILL in the obedience to the Faith that calls us to Perfect Love that casts out all fear!

The Parakletos calls us to this walking in Light as He is in the Light, having Communion with God and one another – the Blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleansing us for all sin!

What Good News!

You see, dear souls, we not only have an Advocate – the Parakletos – we have a “MERCY SEAT” the “hilasmos” – the “Propitiation” for our sins; and not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole of humanity.  Once and for all, He entered the Holy of Holies as our Great High Priest and sprinkled His Precious Blood upon the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant – there He made Satisfaction for our sins.  Think of this!  Satisfaction for everything – and therefore, we ought to Love Him also – Perfectly.

You see dear soul, whosoever will – any repentant soul may come to HIM by Grace and through Faith; and be SAVED; but take heed now to His words again: And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

It could not BE more clearly stated – when we have repentance and Faith and following Jesus in the Light of the Gospel; then we have the Spirit of Christ transforming you and me into the new creations in Christ that we are and may become in Christ through the Sacraments; the Eucharist and the Holy Word of God – all transforming experiences (the means of Grace) that are real at the most practical levels of our Life in Christ!

It could not be more Beautiful – this Relationship we have to Christ as members of the Body of Christ, the Church (those called out of this world system) into Fellowship (Communio) with the beloved Son of God; the Blessed Man – thereby to Be and BECOME in HIM, “blessed men” as we walk in the Light of the Gospel of our Beloved One!

O Happy fault; O necessary sin of Adam – our MERCY SEAT and ADVOCATE is with us and walking within us to bring us to our FATHER!

What a Blessed Rest we have in this work of God where we find our true Peace – the Quiet of (hesychia) – the Place of Resting in His Mercy.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

I John 1 – the Blessed Man, Chapter 1: 1-4

March 10th, 2016

(MH – March 11th, 2016)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–

waytruthandlife2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–

3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4 And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

This passage not only seems to echo the Gospel of St. John, chapter 1 – but according to the Divine Plan it seems for the little soul to echo that “blessed man” of Psalm 1 that speaks of the Blessed Man – our LORD Jesus Christ.

Often, we have gone to that passage in the Old Testament; as we have even listened this morning to the Spirit of the LORD speaking  quietly within the heart about these passages – they are showing the little soul the intimate relationship of this song of David that is speaking of the blessedness of the one who Loves GOD with His whole heart!

Listen again:

1  Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6  For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

What is our Joy, dear ones, but Jesus?

What Life was fully Manifested as the Blessed Man?

As we walk truly in His Light (I John 1:7) as He is in the Light – we have Communion with one another and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin!

The blessed man that walks with God – he is walking in the Blessed One who is the Blessed Man that was fully Manifested in I John 1: 1-4; a kind of:  “predictive Present Presence in God” – the One True God  who reveals Himself on every page of Holy Scripture.

IMG_5562Dear soul, when we walk with Jesus, we will be walking IN CHRIST by Grace and through Faith.

Tragically, when we choose to walk in our own selfishness – we become like the chaff which the wind blows away.

The wind was blowing this evening and the gate door of the hermitage of the motherhouse was opening and slamming in the winds.  I have often heard the howling of the winds at night at the hermitage of Mary – the tumbleweeds blow by like the chaff they are – their seeds spreading with the winds.  Their end is to be burned.

Not so with Him who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scorners.

The Delight of Jesus in us who walk in Him is the LAW of the LORD (the Law of Mercy-Love) – the Law that does not hate or condemn, as does this world system – no, it is JESUS that we see, the Blessed Man – the One we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

Here is the Connection between who we have been and what He has done and is doing and who and what we are becoming and are in Jesus?

May Jesus be honored and glorified.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Always Trusting without Wavering

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage On March 9th, 2016)

It rained last night – the pitter patter on the metal roof was too much to allow to “sleep through” – I was too happy for the sound of the rains – they are suppose to become perhaps freezing rain after midnight; but the frozen water in the morning should thaw quickly with the unseasonably higher temperatures, due to El Nino this year in the Pacific Ocean off South America.  The weather is IMG_2931complicated – God knows what He has created for the good of humanity.

We are called, dear soul – called to trust always in the LORD without wavering.

Sometimes we must not trust — Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, ‘What ought I to do?’ and the old man (Abba Anthony of Egypt) said to him, ‘Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.’

I agree.

All too often we trust in our selfish interests over the guidance of a spiritual father:

Abba Arsenius said, ‘Nine monks fell away after many labors and were obsessed with spiritual pride, for they put their trust in their own works and being deceived they did not give due heed to the commandment that says, “Ask your father and he will tell you.” ‘ (Deut. 32.7)

How many people even take the time to have a spiritual father – a spiritual director to help them through the tough times with Godly counsel?

Take this one to heart dear souls:

Abba Xanthias said, ‘The thief was on the cross and he was justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number of the apostles lost all his labor in one single night and descended from heaven to hell. Therefore, let no-one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall.’

We are always tempted to TRUST OUR SELF over others and God – God calls us to Trust Him and we are often guided by the LORD through Godly counsel – take heed therefore to the Word of the Lord often – for in Holy Scripture we have the Word of the LORD.

Remember the words of St. Benedict in the Rule, chapter 73?

“What page even sentence of the inspired Old and New Testaments is there that is not an excellent rule of life? What book of the holy Catholic fathers is there that does not point out the nearest way to come to our Creator? The Conferences of the fathers, their Institutes and Lives] the Rule of our father, Saint Basil these are instruments to help the monk, who follows them, to lead a good life; to us, idle and neglectful sinners, they are a reproach and shame.”
We would do well to remember this.

Too often there are those who proclaim this and do not spend even a small amount of time in the Holy Scriptures daily – they are too busy with selfish interests – and have little to no time for the Eternal Word of the LORD.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Living with Loss

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage of Mary in the Wilderness on March 9th, 2016)

We all have suffered loss over the years – some loss comes from age – some from a bad relationship – some from forgetfulness – some from theft or robbery by those who want something more than you; enough to take it from you – some suffer loss through their own stupidity—loss comes from any of these or it comes from a combination of all of those causes for loss we might think of in Life.

They said that one day Abba Poemen and his brethren were making ropes and the work was delayed because they had nothing with which to buy flax. One of their friends told a friendly merchant about this. Now Abba Poemen did not want to receive anything from anyone because of the trouble it causes. But the merchant wanted to do something for the old man, so he pretended to need ropes and brought a camel and took them away. When the brothers came to see Abba Poemen and learned what the merchant had done, they said, intending to praise him, ‘Truly, Abba, he has taken them though he did not need them so as to do us a service.’ Hearing that he had taken them without needing them, Abba Poemen said to the brother, ‘Get up, hire a camel and bring them back, and if you do not bring them back, Poemen will no longer live here with you. I do not want to do wrong to someone who does not need those ropes, lest he should suffer loss by it and take my reward from me.’ The brother went away with much labor and brought them back; otherwise the old man would have gone away from them. When he saw the ropes, he rejoiced as though he had found a great treasure.

Poemen’s sense of “loss” was different from that of most people, whose major interest is in the material gain we might receive from good over the labor expended for something that was acquired by someone without the need for a good.

There are different ways to look at LOSS.

Amma Syncletica said, ‘It is dangerous for anyone to teach who has not first been trained in the “practical” life. For if someone who owns a ruined house receives guests there, he does them harm because of the dilapidation of his dwelling. It is the same in the case of someone who has not first built an interior dwelling; he causes loss to those who come. By words one may convert them to salvation, but by evil behavior, one injures them.’

We can cause someone the LOSS of their stability, if we bring a soul into our dwelling and are not living Life according to what we profess.

Sometimes, we suffer other losses, as in this story from the desert fathers – and our response must always be LOVE toward such an one:

There was an old man at Scetis, very austere of body, but not very clear in his thoughts. He went to see Abba John to ask him about forgetfulness. Having received a word from him, he returned to his cell and forgot what Abba John had said to him. He went off again to ask him and having heard the same word from him he returned with it. As he got near his cell, he forgot it again. This he did many times; he went there, but while he was returning he was overcome by forgetfulness. Later, meeting the old man he said to him, ‘Do you know, abba, that I have forgotten again what you said to me? But I did not want to overburden you, so I did not come back.’ Abba John said to him, ‘Go and light a lamp.’ He lit it. He said to him, ‘Bring some more lamps, and light them from the first.’ He did so. Then Abba John said to the old man, ‘Has that lamp suffered any loss from the fact that other lamps have been lit from it?’ He said, ‘No.’ The old man continued, ‘So it is with John; even if the whole of Scetis came to see me, they would not separate me from the love of Christ. Consequently, whenever you want to, come to me without hesitation.’ So, thanks to the endurance of these two men, God took forgetfulness away from the old man. Such was the work of the monks of Scetis; they inspire fervor in those who are in the conflict and do violence to themselves to win others to do good.

Dear soul – it is better to LOVE unconditionally, especially in the face of those who are forgetful – for Love never fails, as spoken by St. Paul to the Church at Corinth.

We cast aside so many – and they suffer LOSS and LIVE with it.

There are so many souls who suffer daily from losses they have incurred through Life – and yet – these souls have been reconciled by the Spirit of Christ to accept and embrace their LOSS; because they understand this is a time of penance on this earth for us who are IN CHRIST as a NEW CREATION.  We have everything we need in JESUS – we find – and we find in HIM all we need; even if we have been taken advantage of by humans or demons – the powers that be – the seen and the unseen; yet, GOD HAS NOT FORSAKEN US, even when humanity does forsake us.

I have complained to God far too much – some of the LOSS I have received were justly taken from me; because of my sins.

Therefore, I must count it all Joy when I have fallen into these different testing; knowing my LORD also suffered the LOSS on all thing on my behalf – therefore, should I complain, when He suffered all; and this little soul has suffered so little a loss from time to time?

Dear souls let us consider what St. Paul has said to us in his letter to the Church at Philippi, chapter 3:

“But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ; and that I may be found in him, not having my righteousness, which [would be] on the principle of law, but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith, to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if any way I arrive at the resurrection from among [the] dead. Not that I have already obtained [the prize], or am already perfected; but I pursue, if also I may get possession [of it], seeing that also I have been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Brethren, *I* do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing — forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to the things before, I pursue, [looking] towards [the] goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. As many therefore as [are] perfect, let us be thus minded; and if ye are any otherwise minded, this also God shall reveal to you. But whereto we have attained, [let us] walk in the same steps.”

Do we not see something here?

God’s ways are higher than our ways dear friends – LOSS is to be desired, when it comes to anything or everything that “gets in the way of Him who is our Way, Truth and Life.”

Dear soul, do you really care enough about these things?

Are you challenged at all by the Word of the LORD?

This little soul is challenged and very ‘exercised” by the issue of embracing all loss as the GREATEST GIFT FROM GOD that we could be ever so Lovingly Graced By GOD to receive.  Prepare dear one – you and I in the end may not have a choice about these matters related to LOSS, (as God has our Best Rest in Mind), when everything we know may suddenly collapse around us to reveal the stuff we are made of – and whether or not JESUS is in fact “Enough” for you or myself.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on us sinners…

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Living in Compassion

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage of Mary in the Wilderness on March 9th, 2016)

There is a story in the desert fathers:

Abba Bessarion’s disciples related that his life had been like that of a bird of the air, or a fish, or an animal living on earth, passing all the time of his life without trouble or disquiet. The care of a dwelling did not trouble him, and the desire for a particular place never seemed to dominate his soul, no more than the abundance of delights, or the possession of houses or the reading of books. But he seemed entirely free from all the passions of the body, sustaining himself on the hope of good things to come, firm in the strength of his faith; he lived in patience, like a prisoner who is led everywhere, always suffering cold and nakedness, scorched by the sun. He always lived in the open air, afflicting himself on the edge of the desert like a vagabond. Often he found it good to be carried over the sea to distant and uninhabited regions. When he happened to come into pleasanter places where the brethren lived a life in common, he would sit outside at the gate, weeping and lamenting like one shipwrecked and flung back on to the earth. Then if one of the brethren coming out found him there, sitting like one of the poor beggars living in the world, and filled with compassion approached him, asking, ‘Man, why are you weeping? If you are in need of something, as far as we can we will see you receive it, only come in, share our table and rest yourself.’ He would reply, ‘I cannot live under a roof so long as I have not found again the riches of my house,’ adding that he had lost great riches in various ways. ‘I have fallen amongst pirates, I have suffered shipwreck, I have dishonored my rank, becoming unknown, famous as I was.’ The brother, moved by these words, returned, bringing a morsel of bread and giving it him, saying, ‘Take this, Father; all the rest, as you say, God will restore to you; home, honor, and riches of which you speak.’ But he, bewailing himself yet more, sighed deeply, adding, ‘I cannot say if I shall find again those lost good things I seek, but I am still more afflicted, every day suffering the danger of death, having no respite because of my great calamities. For always I must wander, in order to finish my course.’

IMG_7066The animals mentioned by Abba Bessarion all live their lives in solitude – or in the little simple communications that are with the animal creation.  Many souls foster this SIMPLICITY in their own Life in Christ – only with great sadness I must confess that all too often I have abandoned the “simplicity” here spoken of – like that of the birds and the fishes (and of course Abba Bessarion) for the complexities of this world have overtaken the little soul “all too often.”

I sense more and more, though, the absolute necessity to FORGET this foolish world and PRAY for the world and its concerns – to flee from this world system – forgetting the “necessity” the world demands so often to “contribute” to “its successes”… in fact – we contribute very little dear soul – we are little nothings; and our contributions are so minimal we ought to be embarrassed by the very thought of “our contributions”.

The little soul that writes this was pretty “big” at one time in the eyes of man – now, he has come to know his “nothingness” in the face of Eternity and the immensity of God’s creation!

I do not believe the calling of Abba Bessarion is for all souls; but this story teaches us the reality of our Life in Christ – and the necessity of seeking Him and His Way for you each step of the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Silence and solitude with unceasing Prayer (the Prayer of Rest, “hesychia”) is the answer for many souls, who have fled from the world system as best as thy might.

There are too many words dear one – too many – we think that by much speaking, we will be heard by God and one another – it is a noisy existence.

GOD calls us to silence and solitude.

My Life Scripture a passage is this from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, chapter 3:

“Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeks him. It is good that one should both wait, and that in silence, for the salvation of Jehovah. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth: He sits solitary and keeps silence, because he hath laid it upon him; he puts his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; he gives his cheek to him that smites him; he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever; but if he have caused grief, he will have compassion according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses: for he doth not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”

Dear one, give to this little nothing this blessed silence and solitude – unceasing prayer.

May our Beloved grant to us what we need?  Amen.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Following the Calling of God

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage of Mary in the Wilderness on March 9th, 2016)

Not everyone is called to become an eremitical or semi-eremitical monastic.

Not everyone is called to this – this is a calling only for a few folks who have the sense spiritually they are specifically called to silence, solitude and unceasing prayer and work.

We have had so many wonderful souls who have come seeking a vocation with us – but things simply were not “right” with the “chemistry” of expectations.  We are too silent – or we are trying to make them feel at home and break our commitment to silence and solitude – you know – then (well) it just does not “gel”.

Some good souls identify (rightly so) 100 percent toward their professional career – and they cannot leave that “first love” and identify themselves first as a monk over the professional career.  We do not condemn this – but, this indicates that a soul may not be called to monastic Life, if there is a conflict in priorities.

You see, when Jesus called His disciples to ministry – He called them to leave all and follow Him.

The Christian Life calls us to Faith in Christ and to serve our Beloved in whatever capacity you are found in Christ (See Colossians 3):

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behooves in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to indignation, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ.”

Do you see—that we are called as Christians to Love God and one another through serving God in the secular realm, which God makes sacred for you.  Note all are called to LOVE.

Yet, there is a deepening vocation for some to ministry at a different level of understanding and service  (Please carefully consider St. Paul’s exhortation and teaching in I Timothy, chapter 3; and other passages that deal with the offices of Deacon and Bishop).

Over the years there have been so many more ministries that have developed in the East and the West – one of importance to this little soul is monasticism (especially the eremitical, semi-eremitical and cenobitic kinds) – one of the reasons (by the way) that we even have the texts of the Old and the New Testaments of Holy Scriptures that we read and study is because monks memorized great portions of the Holy Scriptures; and they copied these in their silence and solitude and unceasing prayer and service in the great monastic centers of the East and the West.

The early hermits of the desert places memorized completely all the Psalms are recited all of them daily from MEMORY!

That is not all there is to this dear soul!

This is not just about listening, reading, studying, memorizing or meditating upon Holy Scripture, as important as that is even now!

I am reminded of this story from the desert fathers – showing strong evidence early on that the true monk (as the true Christian) is more concerned with the practical application of Holy Scripture than the mere legalistic adoration of it in form over substance:

It was said of Abba Gelasius that he had a leather Bible worth eighteen pieces of silver. In fact it contained the whole of the Old and New Testaments. He had put it in the church so that any of the brethren who wished, could read it. A strange brother came to see the old man and, seeing the Bible, wished to have it, and stole it as he was leaving. The old man did not run after him to take it from him, although he knew what he was doing. So the brother went to the city and tried to sell it, and finding a purchaser, he asked thirteen pieces of silver for it. The purchaser said to him, ‘Lend it to me, first, so that I may examine it, then I will give you a price.’ So he gave it to him. Taking it, the purchaser brought it to Abba Gelasius for him to examine it and told him the price, which the seller had set. The old man said to him, ‘Buy it, for it is beautiful, and worth the price you tell me.’ This man when he returned, said something quite different to the seller, and not what the old man had said to him. ‘I have shown it to Abba Gelasius,’ he said, ‘and he replied that it was not worth the price you said.’ Hearing this, he asked, ‘Didn’t the old man say anything else?’ ‘No,’ he replied. Then the seller said, ‘I do not want to sell it any more.’ Filled with compunction, he went to find the old man, to do penance and ask him to take his book back. But he did not wish to make good his loss. So the brother said to him, ‘If you do not take it back, I shall have no peace.’ The old man answered, ‘If you won’t have any peace, then I will take it back.’ So the brother stayed there until his death, edified by the old man’s way of life.

You see dear soul – the most important issue in Life is PRACTICAL APPLICATION of the Word of the Lord.

For some this is manifested in monastic Life, which is a Life of service as a disciple of Jesus:

Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?

St. James says this about “religious Life” – And if any man thinks himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.  Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.

This is the essence of discipleship in Jesus.

Of course this can be applied to all Christians – both of these passages – but there is a unique application that is quite direct for the monk or the cleric – it is a specific vocation on a soul that no one can even comprehend —  when you have such a calling from God alone – you will know and be clear about that calling, once you have surrendered to God’s perfect will for you.

Listen then to the Word of our Beloved and know there is deep application for us all – some must follow the deeper application, as the LORD reveals this to each, as He calls all to the Faith.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Yes, Lord Jesus

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage of Mary in the Wilderness on March 7th, 2016)

Yes, Lord – I am listening.

We listen to many things.

Amma Theodora was asked about the conversations one hears; If one is habitually listening to secular speech, how can one yet live for God alone, as you suggest?’ She said, ‘Just as when you are sitting at table and there are many courses, you take some but without pleasure, so when secular conversations come your way, have your heart turned towards God, and thanks to this disposition, you will hear them without pleasure, and they will not do you any harm.’

We listen to many words in the course of a day – sometimes we feel like hiding under the bed – in a closet – in a cave – in a desert place alone – in order not to hear what we are hearing – to see what we are seeing.

We are listening to the Voice of God, when we are Praying the Prayer of Jesus (hesychia) – we may be hearing the words of others from time to time – but the real “listening” is coming through the Voice of Jesus within; hearing as St. Benedict exhorted:

“Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou may return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away. To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up your own will, takes up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King. In the first place, beg of Him by most earnest prayer, that He perfect whatever good thou dost begin, in order that He who hath been pleased to count us in the number of His children, need never be grieved at our evil deeds.” (Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict)

One day when Abba Macarius was going down to Egypt with some brethren, he heard a boy saying to his mother, ‘Mother, there is a rich man who likes me, but I detest him; and on the other hand, there is a poor man who hates me, and I love him.’ Hearing these words, Abba Macarius marveled. So the brethren said to him: ‘What is this saying, abba, that makes you marvel?’ The old man said to them, ‘Truly, our Lord is rich and loves us, and we do not listen to him; while our enemy the devil is poor and hates us, but we love his impurity.’

quovadisWe listen to that we wish to listen to dear soul.

We hear what we want to hear.

We seek and find the answer that best suits our desires more often than we wish to admit to ourselves; for we prefer to listen to our own will over the will of God through Christ Jesus.

THIS alone is the greatest reason so many of us end up “shipwrecked” as we would in a storm that takes our ship into the rocks, because we failed to allow the ROCK of our Salvation guide us through the storms into the safety of the Homeport!

The Solution is “listening” to the Word of the LORD – and responding – “Yes, LORD JESUS.”

No other approach will work for us – for it is God who must work in you the Salvation we must work out with fear and trembling – until we come to that walk in Jesus who is our Perfect Love – where it is Perfect Love Himself who casts out all fear!

Yes, Lord Jesus…

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Being taken advantage of by others

March 10th, 2016

(Hermitage of Mary in the Wilderness, March 8th, 2016)

Recently, a beloved Sister asked a question about “being taken advantage of” by another person.  I will not detail the question; but only say this – this is a common experience for just about everyone – it is the common occurrence.  I recall the passage form St. Paul to the Church at Corinth (a Church that was pretty good at taking advantage of one another through sinful practices).

We know this:

“No temptation has taken you but such as is according to man’s nature; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able [to bear], but will with the temptation make the issue also, so that [ye] should be able to bear [it]. Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”  (I Corinthians 10: 13, 14)

You see, dear soul; it is idolatry that is at the root of this “being taken advantage of by others” – for when we “worship” the self – we are a world that worships at the “altar” of “selfies” – and we do not stop there – we see that whatever is in our best interest FAR MORE IMPORTANT that what God wants or says about anything!

Am I too strong and harsh?  I don’t think so dear soul – we ALL LOOK OUT FOR OUR OWN SELF-INTEREST OVER THE WELFARE OF OTHERS.

Get this right, because it is pivotal spiritually for each of us.

I know this because of what Isaiah the prophet said that resulted in the Cross for the Lamb of God.

christ with crown of thornes“…He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, but he opened not his mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was as a sheep dumb before her shearers, and he opened not his mouth.”  (Isaiah 53: 5-7)

Dear soul, you and I are not alone in this being: “taken advantage of by others.”  The world is filled with “takers” and “users” – “deceivers” and “players with feelings”; “abusers” – in fact the Lord speaks of these in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapter 22, verses 11 through 15; now listen:

“Let him that does unrighteously do unrighteously still; and let the filthy make himself filthy still; and let him that is righteous practice righteousness still; and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward with me, to render to every one as his work shall be. *I* [am] the Alpha and the Omega, [the] first and [the] last, the beginning and the end.  Blessed [are] they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and that they should go in by the gates into the city. Without [are] the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loves and makes a lie.”

LIES that are LOVED are so, because the lovers of lies are those who USE OTHERS – “taking advantage of other people” – because of some advantage.

Finally, listen to St. Jude 14-21; it has the answer for the Solution, and us; if we apply the Solution to our Life and follow our Answer, Christ Jesus:

“And Enoch, [the] seventh from Adam, prophesied also as to these, saying, Behold, [the] Lord has come amidst his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have wrought ungodlily, and of all the hard [things] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts; and their mouth speaks swelling words, admiring persons for the sake of profit. But *ye*, beloved, remember the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they said to you, that at [the] end of the time there should be mockers, walking after their own lusts of ungodlinesses. These are they who set [themselves] apart, natural [men], not having [the] Spirit. But *ye*, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the Love of God, awaiting the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Do you see what we speak of here?

This is all about:

WHO WE FOLLOW – and WHO IS WORKING THROUGH OUR LIFE HIS SALVATION!

Again, let us all read and ponder: Psalm 1 – the description of Godly souls and ungodly souls – the question is who are we going to BE and BECOME in and through Jesus?

The desert fathers wrote of this:

A brother who followed the life of stillness in the monastery of the cave of Abba Saba came to Abba Elias and said to him, Abba, give me a way of life.’ The old man said to the brother, ‘In the days of our predecessors they took great care about these three virtues: poverty, obedience and fasting. But among monks nowadays avarice, self-confidence and great greed have taken charge. Choose whichever you want most.’

How will you and I choose?

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

A Lenten thought

March 6th, 2016

(MH– March 6th, 2016, a Lenten thought)

When he was dying, Abba Pambo said:

From the time that I came into this solitude and built my cell and dwelt in it, I cannot remember eating any food that I have not earned with my own hands, nor speaking any 3537745001_5db010fc9dword that I have been sorry for until now. And so I go to the Lord, as one who has not yet begun to serve God.

For Abba Arsenius, this was a rule for the whole of life:

‘Be solitary, be silent, and be at peace.’

When we move all the time and fail to ever REST in PRAYER — we only move about and come to the place in the end of realizing we have wasted our lives in fruitless activity.

Dear soul, I wish I had just RESTED early in the Prayer of Jesus and never done anything that I did to satisfy others into thinking I was “normal”…

abba anthony the sinner

The Fear of the LORD

March 6th, 2016

(MH – March 6th, 2016)

When we come to God in Faith – we are saved by the Grace of God through His Mercy.  Faith that is real Faith is accompanies by much suffering in this Life, as the little soul has also found – there seems to be a relentless “flow of suffering” that those who seek God’s will are often “overflowed” by – causing the soul to abandon or desire to abandon any calling from the LORD.

Therefore, we speak of having the “fear of God before our eyes.”

Abba Anthony of Egypt spoke of this:

Abba Anthony said; always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember him who gives death and life. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate all peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, so that you may be alive to God. Remember what you have promised God, for it will be required of you on the Day of Judgment. Suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness, be watchful and sorrowful; weep, and groan in your heart; test yourselves, to see if you are worthy of God; despise the flesh, so that you may preserve your souls.’

divine officeDear soul, our enemy is threefold: the world, the flesh and the devil.

We tend to pamper ourselves – we must leave the pampering and go for prayer with fasting, if there is a choice between God’s or man’s will.  All too easily we “give up” and leave the will of God for the world, the flesh and the devil’s way of ease – this many times can lead us to despair dear one.

Ease will always tend to lead to despair, because it is always not satisfying, when we are not challenged with hard choices in Life in Christ.

When hardship comes, it is usually because we are on the right Pathway dear soul.

Here is another story from the desert father sayings.

Going into Egypt one day, Abba Poemen saw a woman who was sitting in a tomb and weeping bitterly. He said, ‘If all the delights of the world were to come, they could not drive sorrow away from the soul of this woman.  Even so the monk would always have compunction in himself.

When we are faced with sufferings (the sorrows of this Life) – this brings this little soul to compunction – he finds himself admitting to God his own sins (the many sins of the past) and the present weaknesses that are the result of his sins.  What is compunction? — scruples, misgivings, qualms, worries, unease, uneasiness, doubts, reluctance, reservations; guilt, regret, contrition, self-reproach – all of these speak f it.  It is the sense of our own WEAKNESS

The desert fathers knew about the fear of God – the standing in awe of God’s Holiness – this brings us a real compunction, if we have a heart that is right with God dear souls.

Abba Theodore was one of the holiest men who ever Lived; a brother said to Abba Theodore, ‘Speak a word to me, for I am perishing,’ and sorrowfully he said to him. ‘I am myself in danger, so what can I say to you?’

We are all faced with the reality that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

We are all faced with the wages of sin – death – but we know that the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Christ Jesus, our LORD.

Yet, there is the fear of God within us – this sense of dread.

IMG_4614What shall we do with this “fear”?

Dear one – that answer is Perfect Love.

St, John tells us of this Perfect Love in his little first epistle, chapter 2: 15-17.

“Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever.”

Do we see a pattern here?

Perfect Love does not LOVE the world, nor the flesh or the devil who loves this world system he has created contrary to GOD!

I John 4: 18 says in a modern translation:  “There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear, because where fear is, there is pain; and he who is not free from fear is not complete in love.”

There is no FEAR in LOVE – the Fear of God is replaced in Perfect Love dear soul – that is the goal of the Christian’s Life – PERFECT LOVE THAT CASTS OUR FEAR.

May God help us to become this Love in him who is Perfect Love.

Let us then fear lest we not Love Him and one another.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner