It is as if we are sitting at the well, drinking deeply of that life-giving water. The fathers’ writings on the spiritual life speak to the soul in such a deep fashion that it gives rise to an insatiable desire for God. It is the willingness to do exactly what the fathers instruct in this hypothesis in our own way that will bear fruit. They call those entering the monastic life to look deeply into their hearts to see if they have there a desire for God; a desire strong enough to carry them to the end. We do our souls a disservice, they tell us, when we fail to present the challenge and the responsibility of the Christian life in an unvarnished fashion.
We are called to set aside self-will in whatever station we find ourselves in this world. We are to live for God and by his grace, always serving him and one another in a spirit of humility. We are called quite frankly to be foolish in the eyes of the world. We are called to embrace a voluntary slavery not for the sake of earthly riches or for the sake of and earthly king. We let go of our self-will in order to follow He who promises us everything. Our Beloved calls out to us, “Follow Me”. Is there the desire, the longing and the humility within us to draw us along that path?
Text of chat during the group:
00:22:11 Anthony: Rule of St Pachomius was a predecessor of St Seraphim Sarovsky's prayer rule, no?
00:36:03 Anthony: I think the devils attack and discourage in precisely those areas they perceive we are intended to grow holy. It is a weariness, and it shows how maliciously nasty the devils are.
00:39:35 Bridget McGinley: How does one recharge after endless warfare? How do we know if it is temptation from the evil one or a trial from God?
00:56:17 Anthony: In Syria, St. Ephrem's (& Isaac's) home, the consecrated life was not necessarily just for the unmarried, but they also lived in or among larger communities that contained families or singles not taking vows. Does Ephrem ever distinguish whether his advice is for the cloistered or for the people who live in non-vowed communities around the monastics?
00:57:55 Rachel: Yes!!
00:59:09 Denise T. : How important is it to have a mentor in the spiritual life he talks of? And how do you find one to help you navigate the life? What would you look for?
01:01:49 Ambrose Little, OP: One thing I find challenging is the council given--complete abasement, because that is not acceptable in the world, for those who must put themselves forward as competent in their chosen profession. It's not that we can't practice humility at all, but it is a balancing act between reassuring those who pay us that we actually do know things and are actually good at doing what we are asking to be paid for—and at the same time doing our best to practice humility in the eyes of God and being open to humiliation as is counseled in these readings (much less to seek that out). This is doubly hard when you need to get a new job, promotion, raise, get a new client, etc.—you have to put forward your best foot and "sell" yourself. I can see why they also counsel leaving the world entirely to achieve this perfection. 🙂
01:06:26 Ambrose Little, OP: On the note of finding spiritual guidance, these meetings (The Evergetinos and Climacus) are
very good for ongoing, living guidance with the Fathers.
01:06:46 Ambrose Little, OP: life-giving, too! 🙂
01:07:06 Rodrigo Castillo: I would come
01:07:12 Paul: +1
01:07:35 Debra: Exactly, Ambrose
01:07:38 Ambrose Little, OP: I don't think my wife and kids would love that--for me to come _every_ night. But I would benefit!
01:08:01 Denise T. : I have come to 3 so far and look forward to Monday nights!
01:08:57 Rachel: WAS That me??? LOL
01:09:13 Ambrose Little, OP: Now we know you thought it! LOL
01:09:32 Anthony: Going to these groups is like the young monk (John the Dwarf?) instructed to wash a pot in oil multiple times, and then he saw the value of the continual washing in oi - the pot was gradually cleaned..
01:10:56 Rachel: Yes, but, I very quickly leanred to love going at this slow contemplative pace. So much so that my kids and I love listening this way and cant imagine going through the readings at lightening pace. Thanks be to God! Sorry Father
01:18:52 Anthony: These are religious people who are not professionals, I like that. It feels good to learn from them.