Archive for the ‘Divine Office’ Category

Communicating Discord

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

(MH – March 3rd, 2016)

We are troubled by many who claim to be “peacemakers” that communicate instead “discord”.

We are reminded of  passage in the Holy Scriptures that stands alone in the eyes of the LORD as a Judgment against those who sow discord.

We are warned in the proverbs, chapter 6: 12-19 of the matter of those who sow  discord:

“A man that is an apostate, an unprofitable man, walks with a perverse mouth, He winks with the eyes, presses with the foot, speaks with the finger. With a wicked heart he devises evil, and at all times he sows discord. To such a one his destruction shall presently come, and he shall suddenly be destroyed, and shall no longer have any remedy. Six things there are, which the Lord hates, and the seventh his soul detests: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, A deceitful witness that utters lies, and him that sows discord among brethren.”

In this political season, we can see clearly there is a lot of folks sowing discord amongst brethren – some more than others – many lies “flowing like a river from the mouth of the dragon” – many claims that are false – many statements on all side that are clearly inaccurate; but the politicians are not alone dear souls.

IMG_4601Look into your own heart – see that even there your own selfish interests often are sought over what is the will of God clearly for your Life.

I have witnessed too many vacillations in my short Life – so many people have in the past contacted us; claiming to have a call from God – and suddenly – we hear from them no more; when the Rule of Benedict is read and understood by them.  Many come with an agenda – few come surrendered to Jesus in their Life in Christ – too much “self-seeking” and very little “self-sacrificed on the altar of surrender” in the Love of God.

We recall that Perfect Love casts out fear.

That means, when we come to a religious Life, we come no longer fearing, because when we follow Jesus in Perfect love – He casts out fear.

Listening to St. Benedict in a chapter close to the last we hear much:

“As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a virtuous zeal which separates from vice and leads to God and life everlasting. Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they forerun one another (Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinks useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love. Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.”

Are we listening to the first words of the Rule of Benedict?  Listen!

We are called to the obedience of Faith – and this calling is to listen to the LOVE of God toward God and one another… it is not about (finding our vocation) so much as it is about (finding God’s vocation) for you and me IN HIM!

I am weary of souls who are seeking “their vocation” – pursuing all the “externalities” of religion and forgetting the weightier things of the Law – LOVE GOD and LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Let’s start there – Loving God; for if we really Love God – we will Love our neighbor and not act like pompous asses toward one another by depriving all of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Liberty we find in JESUS CHRIST – for the Christian it means being allowed to BE ALIVE IN THE LIBERTY OF CHRIST JESUS – freed from the bondage of Satan’s tyranny – Living in the Gospel sense OF Loving God and one another in God.

There is much to say here – St. Benedict and the Holy Scripture speaks to the issue well enough and so – the little soul leaves it to “sink into our hearts” through entering into the silence we enjoy here.

Abba Anthony the repentant sinner

Unseen Sight

Friday, February 26th, 2016

As I sat today outside the front of the Oratory; it was so warm, as I was waiting for the hour of Divine Mercy, which is 3 IMG_6185pm, the time we also begin None for the Divine Office reading.

I was looking up toward the very brightness of the sun in the heavens; and I raised my right arm; and with my hand I covered my eyes from the brightness of the sun.  I was happy that I could feel the sun’s heat hitting the palm of my hand.  I lowered my arm; and was immediately again somewhat “blinded” by the brightness of the sun.

I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking within me saying: “Even though you do not hear Me with your human ears; or see me with you human eyes; the soul in which I have given you hears My Voice and sees my Word; and it is not because of anything you have done, but it is because the Love I have for you.”

I felt sad at that moment inside because of all the people who live that do not recognize the Love that the Lord Jesus has for all of us.  Many have become people who not feel anything but what this world tells them to live for today.

As Christians, we can clearly see a world that has lost its way.  But we must with Jesus’ help never forget what the Son of God did for us you and me by dying on the cross and giving us the wonderful hope of eternal life.IMG_2940

During this brief life that we live – our Faith could be defined as “unseen sight” because, as
Christians, we live by the Faith and Hope given to us by Jesus Christ who is our Light and H
ope.

1 Peter 1:6-9 says:

“Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations: That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now, though you see him not, you believe: and believing shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified; Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

+Martin Andrew

 

On the life of the wilderness

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

It is a new year in the Lord; and it is a new day in the hermitage; and the Lord shows Himself always to be the Bearer of this little soul; He carries him, for the little soul is weak, and therefore, he cannot see anything but the Truth that is in Jesus, his Redeemer and Lord.  Bless the Name of Jesus forever.

Amma Syncletica said, ‘There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of his own thoughts.’  She also said, ‘Just as a treasure that is exposed loses its value, so a virtue which is known vanishes; just as wax melts when it is near fire, so the soul is destroyed by praise and loses all the results of its labor.’  She also said, ‘Just as it is impossible to be at the same moment both a plant and a seed, so it is impossible for us to be surrounded by worldly honor and at the same time to bear heavenly fruit.’

There are three lessons in this for the New Year before the little soul; our New Year is in the Easter message of our Resurrection Day:

  1.  We are always called to behave internally before God and do all things as unto the Lord.
  2.  We are actively to seek no praise from men; that is to be “liked” or “unliked”; our praise comes from a Life so ordered by Grace in the Mercy of God alone.
  3.  Worldly honor means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Dear ones, we bear witness only to the Truth that is Jesus alone; we are here in Montana a mere owl in the desert; a mere pelican in the wilderness; we are simply “a nothing” that is only seeing his “something-ness” in the Lord Jesus who is his all.

Dear ones, we also read in the apophthegmata patrum:

The brother asked, ‘In all of the affliction which the monk gives himself, what helps him?’ The old man said, ‘It is written, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”‘ (Ps 46.1)  The old man was asked, ‘What is the good of the fasts and watching, which a man imposes on himself?’ and he replied, ‘They make the soul humble. For it is written, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Ps.25.18) So if the soul gives itself all this hardship, God will have mercy on it.’

We falsely believe that it is in our own strengths through ascetic practices that we are somehow “holy”; when we have no strength at all in our self!  Self is so weak.  Our “watchings” are clearly limited in their effectiveness; and they are only of value when we are watching and focusing upon Jesus.  Our strength is so weak that we cannot rely on anything to do with it.  Our Strength is only in our Lord Jesus Christ!

If one comes to the eremitical Life in Jesus; or even a semi-eremitical Life in Jesus that the little soul practices so weakly: we come to understand it is (none of this) “of our self,” for only in God are we fulfilled outside of our false self; only in God is our Blessed Hope; our Strength; and this is the message to those who come and seek the silence and the solitude that we share with others, when souls come to visit.  There is a degree of austerity, but it is offered to God in Joy and without grumbling.  Only as humility is obtained from God is it worth having through these watchings.

Humility is a gift from God through sufferings, the “watchings” that God gives to us by Grace through Faith in Him alone.  It is all about Jesus.

The Divine Office is our “food and drink”; the prayer of Jesus is our purpose in Jesus; the constant intercession; the constant thanks giving; the constant apology for having offended our First and Best love; our constant Love for Him who is our Perfect Love!

This is the Life of the monachos; it is a Life that is based in Love for God and Love in God, however, it is the Love that is  weak as it is toward our Beloved.  God must give us His Perfect Love through true Companionship with Him, (I John 1: 7).  It is not a “wild contemplative Life we have come into as “loners”; it is not as some have taught a ‘life” that has no Focus upon Jesus, as another monk advised me of a few days ago.  It is the Focus upon God alone without internal “prayer words” or “mantras”… it is simply Jesus, only our Beloved Jesus and we are “pondering these things” with Mary; pondering  this One within our heart in the places of solitude and silence. 

We hear His Voice: Be still and know that I AM GOD.

We share only in answer to what others have asked us.

May Jesus have all the Glory; for I want none of it, but to know He is honored dear souls.

The time is short; let us live for Him completely and bloom where we have been planted.

Dear souls, you are Loved.  Love Jesus.  Love Him fully; for He Loves you infinitely.

Abba Anthony

The Peace of Christ

Friday, March 29th, 2013

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