(From the Hermitage of Mary in the wilderness on March 21st, 2015)
We hear from the apophthegmata patrum:
“It was said of Abba Arsenius that all his life, whenever he worked with his hands, he kept a handkerchief in his breast because tears fell so often from his eyes.”
I often feel this way dear friends, because of the hardness of my own heart and the hardness I sense in the hearts of so many – there is such spiritual carelessness in these troubling times – and many have the sense of lukewarm-ness in their Faith.
Jesus spoke of this, when He gave His exhortation to the Church at Laodicea in the Revelation, chapter 3 – listen to what Jesus said:
“To the angel of the Church in Laodicea write: There are the words of the true witness, the ruler of GOD’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (verses 14 to 17)
Dear souls, GOD counsels us to the “gold refined by fire” for the “real riches” – and “white clothes” that we might cover the nakedness – and this is true Righteousness – and “eye salve” to use so that we might truly SEE.
So many operate in the realm of the world, the flesh and the devil.
I judge no one – for I am too rotten a sinner to make any judgments – GOD is our Judge and Redeemer – but beware of “cheap grace” that “lives like hell” down here with the expectation of no accountability when we see Jesus face to face at the Judgment.
There are so many souls that are “lukewarm” –never committed fully one-way or the other – walking always as if one was living, shall we say: “on the fence” rather than Living Life totally in Love with Jesus.
He is never hard to LOVE, when you know Perfect Love Himself!
GOD desires for us the Best of His Love – the Rest from our own laborious dreading through Love in His Mercy. This is found through the exercise of discernment and honesty between our selves and GOD.
There is another story from the desert fathers I appreciate:
A brother asked Abba Ammonas (disciple of Antony) word.” The old man said to him: “Go, and meditate like the criminals in prison. For they keep asking, where is the judge, and when will he come? And because they await him they lament their punishment. The monk ought always to be awaiting his trial, and to chide his soul, saying: c Woe is me, how shall I stand before the judgment seat of Christ? How shall I give an account of my actions?’ If you always meditate like this, you will be saved.”
More and more I sense this as I grow older and think upon what I have done and what I have failed to do, when I dwelled long in the Church at Laodicea.
Too long has the little soul dwelled long in a foreign place and people that knew not GOD as in the Psalm 120:5 – – “Alas, that I abide a stranger in Meshech, dwelling among the tents of Kedar.” This is imagery the strikes the little soul within – “Alas, that I abide a stranger in Meshech (between the Black and Caspian Seas), dwelling among the tents of Kedar.” – thus, I sense in the Presence of Jesus today that I was a dweller in the darkness that is felt in this Song of Ascent, journeying to the Beloved ONE on that Holy Hill of Zion – and dear ones, compared to the Sacred Ground of the Temple, I was like an exile in the Caucasus (exiled between the Caspian and Black Seas with the ancient and violent Scythians) or amongst the fiercest tribes of the Arabian deserts (Kedar).
The violence and the hated encountered in the world system is “alien” to the LOVE OF GOD IN HIS HOLY PLACE.
We come and taste and see that GOD is Good.
Why do we refuse to remain “lukewarm” to Him and not see our NEEDINESS before Him who LOVES us? Loving us, HE IS far more (infinitely more) than a mother or a father of this world – far more than even our closest brothers or sisters or even our closest friends.
Are we so obtuse that we do not realize that you are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked?” It may be so – but it never needs to remain so.
Jesus Loves us and rebukes those He Loves – He stands at the door of our heart and He knocks at the door, awaiting His entry and our coming into the fullness of His Grace.
Let us open the door of our heart to Him who is the First Love of the Church – opening to Him fully – fully to His Salvation and Sanctifying Grace to Perfect Love.
This Grace is often found in the wake of a “sea of tears” that fall upon the cloth that GOD will use to “wipe away all tears.”
Abba Anthony the repentant sinner