We returned to hypothesis 40 and found ourselves sitting at the feet of Saint Ephrem the Syrian. We are shown with frightening clarity how the evil one works upon our minds and our hearts by making us question the value and the significance of our particular vocation. We are often tempted to change externals; thinking that when we do so we will find a place that fosters greater sanctity, peace of mind and heart, or offers a greater opportunity for prayer. The evil one constantly seeks to tempt us to this instability in order that we might never put down deep roots - and so also never bear ripe fruit, if any fruit at all.
The grass always looks greener on the other side. There are always going to be things that seem to be lacking in our life or in our relationships, whether real or perceived, that make us vulnerable to this kind of attack. Therefore, we are counseled to be equally relentless in putting things to the test. We must fast and pray and seek the counsel of others. Likewise, we must never make decisions in moments of desolation. It is not as though the fathers are saying that we can never be called to walk another path. Rather, they are telling us that all of our actions must be guided by prudence; a kind of practical wisdom that arises out of long experience within the inner desert of the heart.
Text of chat during the group:
00:04:58 FrDavid Abernethy: page 342 top of the page
00:43:21 John Ingram: I'm wondering whether the extreme depravity of the modern world creates a greater temptation to retreat to a more extreme asceticism than, say, a century ago, or even during the times of the Desert Fathers. Thus we're in more danger of being thrown off balance from a balanced approach.
00:50:30 Louise: Would recommend allowing ourselves to experience the void elated to the longing to be with the Beloved, being conscious and tolerating the pain of longing while also being in this world with its joys and pleasures in a contained way.
01:07:24 Louise: I think of Job these days. He was thrown into ascetism, losses, and pain, beyond his volition. God tested him via the evil one. At times, I imagine myself in the place of Job in a near future, in the hope to remain faithful and in love with God whatever happens, even I do not understand why this is occurring. Maybe Job's trial was a demonstration for us.
01:11:02 Adam Paige: It’s the feast of Job this week actually
01:14:05 Melissa Kummerow: Wish I had been able to tune in earlier but everything that's been talked about so far has been very timely to my own life right now. Seems to be par for the course with your groups, Father David lol
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