The Peace of Christ

Dear souls, it is Good Friday in the year 2013 today; and the little soul suggests that it is appropriate especially on this day to consecrate ones Life anew to Jesus alone in these times of deepening challenge for our most holy catholic and apostolic Faith.

The Peace of Christ

Dear souls, “they will know we are Christians by our Love.”

Never has there been a time where this has been more important to show the world than now. 

My father taught me much.  He also asked me this often as I was growing up. 

Dear ones, if you were being accused of being a Christian in the courts of mankind, would there be enough evidence to convict you of this charge?  I dare say that many of those who claim to be Christians would “fail this test”; little evidence would surface; why is this?  It would be because we are still acting out the ways of the world of Babylon in the face of the continuing challenges that are before us to have Faith in God alone!

Dear friends, too many people retain the caustic nature of the old man in our dealings with our brothers and sisters.  We want “our way or the highway”, when we are confronted with “getting our way” or with “following the will of another”.  Does this lead to the “Peace of Christ”?  This is a particular problem for religious communities.  So many monastics want to retain their self-will and simply “do their own thing, rather than be obedient to a rule.”  This is the reason vocations are so difficult to maintain.  Worse than “vocations” this trait also does not bode well for the souls that would not follow God in obedience to a “regula”; dear ones, for even the hermits of old followed a “regula” in their “laura” communities in the desert; for many these were self-imposed ascetic rules and practices that were austere upon the flesh; preferring Christ over the “callings of the world, the flesh and the devil.”

St. Benedict’s “Regula Benedicti” brought much moderation to the many “rules”, following St. Basil, St. Pachomius, the Rule of the Master, et al.  There are many who “pretend” to be monks, who are not dear souls; Benedict understood this and he informs us of the need to be “genuine” with the words:

“It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind is that of Cenobites, that is, the monastic, who live under a rule and an Abbot.

The second kind is that of Anchorites, or Hermits, that is, of those who, no longer in the first fervor of their conversion, but taught by long monastic practice and the help of many brethren, have already learned to fight against the devil; and going forth from the rank of their brethren well trained for single combat in the desert, they are able, with the help of God, to cope single-handed without the help of others, against the vices of the flesh and evil thoughts.

But a third and most vile class of monks is that of Sarabaites, who have been tried by no rule under the hand of a master, as gold is tried in the fire (Proverbs 27: 21); but, soft as lead, and still keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known to belie God by their tonsure. Living in two’s and three’s, or even singly, without a shepherd, enclosed, not in the Lord’s sheepfold, but in their own, the gratification of their desires is law unto them; because what they choose to do they call holy, but what they dislike they hold to be unlawful.

But the fourth class of monks is that called Landlopers, who keep going their whole life long from one province to another, staying three or four days at a time in different cells as guests. Always roving and never settled, they indulge their passions and the cravings of their appetite, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. It is better to pass all these over in silence than to speak of their most wretched life.

Therefore, passing these over, let us go on with the help of God to lay down a rule for that most valiant kind of monks, the Cenobites.” (Regula, chapter 1)

The meaning of this opening chapter immediately after the prologue of the Regula is to show us anything that deviates from the Pre-imminence of Christ can lead to a perversion of monastic Life in Christ.

As a community of semi-eremitical monastics we focus locally so clearly on Christ that we try to make it uncomfortable for people who inquire into our community to commit to our monastic Way, which IS Jesus.  Yes, we want “vocations”; but, no we do not want “rebels”.  Egotism has no place in the monastic Life in Christ; It is Jesus, not you and me.  Of course even the most committed of souls can “miss the mark”; but, we trust that God will keep us on Journey in this Focus that is Jesus Christ.

Let us briefly summarize and close with the words of St. Paul to the Church at Corinth, chapter 2 verses 1 and 2:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ. For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Yes, He is our Focus as monks.

This is the Focus of the Regula Benedicti; and we hold ourselves to this “rule”.

This is really the only “rule” for Christian living.

It will become more and more apparent as the challenges to our Faith increase abundantly in these “end of days” before us daily.

May Jesus Christ be praised forever dear souls, now and forevermore!

Abba Anthony

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