One participant in this evening‘s group commented that the counsel that St. John gives is eminently practical. This is true of the writings of the fathers as a whole. Their wisdom is rooted in Praxis; the practice of the faith, the exercise of the faith. Their writings seem to make so much sense because they are rooted in experiences that we so often take for granted or fail to explore. What is our motivation for doing or not doing certain things? What is it that drives us or leads us to negligence?
What one begins to see in John’s teaching is the beauty of obedience. Obedience is our capacity to listen to God without any impediment caused by self-will, without our ego blinding us to the truth about ourselves. Setting aside the false self allows us to act with a precious freedom. It cuts through all of our machinations about particular circumstances or responsibilities. It allows us to take up things with love and to see them through the eyes of love. We begin to understand why the fathers, then, speak of loving the virtues. We are to love obedience because it is not something that inhibits us but rather allows our true identity to emerge. It brings healing to our fundamental spiritual sickness as human beings - to put ourselves in the place of God. One of our great weaknesses is that we project our own image on to God and so create the illusion of fidelity.
Text of chat during the group:
00:15:23 Marco da Vinha: Good evening from Blighty!
00:19:10 Daniel Allen: I’m sorry where are we at?
00:19:37 Bonnie Lewis: #91
00:20:03 Daniel Allen: Thank you
00:25:26 Ambrose Little, OP: About meditating on what's in the office, part of the purpose of the antiphons and the brief meditation at the start of each psalm/canticle is to give the mind an anchor for that meditation, not too dissimilar from the mysteries in the rosary. Perhaps the antiphons were added after Climacus to help address the challenge of focus during communal psalmody.
00:28:51 Marco da Vinha: Would those be the Gyrovagues St. Benedict (very sparingly) talks about?
00:36:57 Bonnie Lewis: This is so beautifully written.
00:44:38 Daniel Allen: That is SHOCKINGLY practical for parents. I would love to do an all night vigil when my toddler is screaming during the night. But if he sleeps, last thing I’d want is to be woken up. And that same example during the day as well.
00:49:52 Daniel Allen: This makes me think, can God allow things mentioned here such as vain glory, to keep the monk in his cell
00:51:43 Johnny Ross: Interesting that the Evil one first tempted Christ with Bread in the desert
00:53:04 Marco da Vinha: @Johnny Ross: Adam and Eve's Fall was breaking the only rule of fasting He had given them 😅
00:53:27 Daniel Allen: I had a question above about the previous section 96
01:00:50 Daniel Allen: A freedom from one’s own self will
01:01:21 Ashley Kaschl: I haven’t completely finished the article I’m going to mention, but it’s Fr. Freeman’s most recent article about the ego and how we can create a false reality about our state in life and about God, and how we fall into the danger of placing zero boundaries when it comes to our ego - we live an aimless life or a life according to “me” and we can even delude ourselves into being obedient to our idea of what we think is true or what is Godly. I think St. John is talking about something similar if we give ourselves over to despondency instead of humility and diligence.
01:04:23 Johnny Ross: Many have created God in their own image instead of the other way around
01:07:05 Ashley Kaschl: I have to run. My service is spotty. Thanks for the great group though!
01:07:52 Marco da Vinha: A bit tangential, but the previous paragraph and comments reminded me of something the painter said in the movie "A Hidden Life". When the main character saw him painting Christ in a chapel and praised him for it, the painter's reply was very interesting - "What we do, is just create... sympathy. We create-- We create admirers. We don't create followers. Christ's life is a demand. You don't want to be reminded of it. So we don't have to see what happens to the truth. A darker time is coming... when men will be more clever. They won't fight the truth, they'll just ignore it. I paint their comfortable Christ, with a halo over his head. How can I show what I haven't lived? Someday I might have the courage to venture, not yet. Someday I'll... I'll paint the true Christ."
01:15:37 Lee Graham: Discern where others are without condemnation
01:16:27 Art: Thank you father. Good night!
01:16:28 Johnny Ross: Thank You Father
01:16:29 Jeffrey Ott: Thank you!
01:16:37 Deiren Masterson: God bless - thanks Father - all
01:16:38 Cindy Moran: Thank you Father!
01:16:39 kevin: thanks
01:16:44 Deb Dayton: Thank you so much
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