A Rule Of Life – Reflections for LENT

Greetings to All – As we enter Week 2 of LENT, I find it a good time to pause and look within, hoping to discern in just what ways I have been cooperating with the graces offered to me, thus far, this Lenten Season. As a person with many physical challenges and health concerns, A Rule of Life can sound quite intimidating.  Perhaps that word, Rule, just has too much baggage attached to it for modern ears. But, as our Desert Fathers have testified, it was never intended to sound so formal and obligatory. It was rather to be understood as a Guide; a simple Light for the Path of any sincere person seeking God.

So, just what relevance can a Rule of Life have for us today?  Well, for myself, I am participating in a free on-line e-Course discussing just that Subject.  Today’s Lesson invited all to reflect on our relationship with God through prayer.  I share it with you below. If you find it of some benefit for yourselves, as well, feel free to copy it, share it,  or comment about it.  Day by Day, I find it’s a Course that can really Grow on you!

Blessings and Peace,

+ Theresa  (Hermits of The Holy Cross)

Transcript for GrowRule @ SSJE.ORG :  FEB 20Saturday

In this phase, we’ve been exploring our relationship with God. We hope you have enjoyed it and we hope you have found something sustaining and inviting. And we’d like to invite you now to sit down and spend some time reflecting on your relationship with God in prayer, and reflecting on ways in which you can help sustain and develop and grow and deepen that relationship with God to be able to know more deeply that gift of life, which is Jesus’ promise to us. Rather like a garden, plants do need space to grow and our lives are often so incredibly busy that for many people prayer is the first thing to go when there are many other demands on our time. But if that does happen, life becomes even more stressful and difficult. So I would like to invite you to reflect on how you can give your life of prayer more space to grow and develop, and to think of particular ways and particular practices that perhaps you can adopt to enable prayer to take root more deeply in your life and that you may bear fruit to God’s glory.

– Br. Geoffrey Tristram

DAY 26 – Desert Wisdom Incarnate

So, then, their solitary cells were like tents filled with divine choirs — singing Psalms, studying, fasting, praying, rejoicing in the hope of the life to come, and laboring in order to give alms and preserving love and harmony among themselves. And truly, it was like seeing a land apart, a land of piety and justice.”
— Athanasius in The Life of Saint Anthony

My Brother and Sister Hermits Everywhere – to me, This of all the Sayings validates, confirms and declares All of our callings – us who Blog and us who Read and Follow in Spirit – to be united with Christ in sufferings.  Together, we  offer daily our prayers and struggles, though in a way most hidden from the world in many respects, because of illness or limitations.  Yet, we remain in solidarity with the struggles and pains of each of our neighbors everywhere, at all times, and to the ends of the Earth, as we take our place in God’s Plan of Redemption for all humankind.  Amen…

The Blessings of the Christ be upon you All – Merry Christmas!

+a Disciple of Jesus (HHC)

DAYS 20 and 21 – Who Am I?!

Day 20 and 21 – Who  Am I and Do Not Judge – A 2-part Teaching:

Abba Poemen said to Abba Joseph, “Tell me how to become a monk.” He said, “If you wish to find rest here below and hereafter, in all circumstances say, ‘Who am I?’ and do not judge anyone.”

To Find Rest – Abba Joseph seems not to address the question as asked, but rather what he understood to be the deeper question and perhaps the more relevant one; the measure of a true monk being in the fruit and not in the practices or the means or the monk’s location, whether in seclusion or a Monastery at all.  The fruit, he says, is to find Rest here and hereafter.

Who Am I?  As a person with chronic illness, so many of the “who’s” I thought I was at one time or another simply had to be released.  Each one was a kind of death.  Each one peeled away yet another layer.  Some had more kicking and screaming than others.  Some needed more therapy to resolve than others.  The psychology behind Any loss of identity can be  quite the involved process.  But today, I must say that the WHO doesn’t present the same problems it once did.  Most former frames of reference have dissolved and a new identity in Christ has revealed itself to be one more genuine and lasting.  If that can be recognized as the beginning of what Abba joseph is calling, Rest, then I can truly glimpse it even now, right here, in the midst of each day’s events and struggles.

Do Not Judge – Without a WHO to identify with, that is separate from Christ, separation itself dissolves.  Without that sense of separation, divisions dissolve.  Without division, WHO is left to judge?!

Blessings and Peace to All,

+a Disciple of Jesus (HHC)

DAY 19 – Desert Wisdom

Abba Pambo also said, “The monk should wear a garment of such a kind that he could throw it out of his cell and no one would steal it from him for three days.”

To my understanding, this is a Saying that reflects a lived and genuine humility of soul.  It comes from having realized first, one’s poverty of spirit.  Not by beating one’s self up over one’s past sins, but rather by true self-knowledge, through which one comes to know one’s littleness in light of God’s greatness, and experiences the awe that such a realization inspires.  And secondly, knowing that, in spite of our littleness, or maybe because of it, God loves us infinitely!
For hermits like ourselves, whose Path is continual illness and pain,  we have access to the grace of a very daily experience of our absolute poverty before God, via the naked Faith we have received as Gift.  We accept it gratefully and express it through our dependence upon God for everything, without “feeling” consoled, but somehow still trusting that it is available to us at all times.
It is a very sublime Grace, though a very humble one.  Nothing to openly rejoice in, but nothing to threaten our vocation, either.  There is hardly an opportunity for Pride, and not much room for distractions.  Yet, we remain vigilant, knowing how easily the heart can be deceived even under conditions such as these.
Today, I acknowledge the gift of my littleness before God and thank God for loving and leading me through this maze of life lived from within the Mystery of the Cross.
Could GOD be Calling You to this hermit way of life?
+ a Disciple of Jesus (HHC)

DAY 14 – More Desert Wisdom

“A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ So he did. The old man then said, ‘Shoot another,’ and he did so. Then the old man said, ‘Shoot yet again,’ and the hunter replied, ‘If I bend the bow so much, I will break it.’ Then the old man said, ‘It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down and meet their needs.’ When he heard these words, the hunter was pierced by compunction, and greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.”

How many times in a day or week does it feel like this bow of ours called, Life, is about to break from having been stretched too far?  Whether by pain or pressure, by financial difficulties or family matters, we can each relate to the needing of a break to just relax a bit and lay back from the heaviness responsibility or sickness brings.  Life and all it involves was not unknown to Jesus or to any of His disciples, either.  They, too, had to find time and ways to take a break; from the crowds, the endless traveling, and the heat and hunger they faced each day.

When the hunter inquired of the Abba, he was left edified by the Abba’s reply and both he AND the brethren went away strengthened.  As hermits of St. Giles in this desert wilderness of suffering, we can empathize with our brothers and sisters who have the same challenges, of course, but also with those who have different challenges in life, simply because we are all human beings who have chosen to be on this Journey with Christ, following His lead and trying to remain open to the grace offered us at every moment.

So, today, let us all be edified by the encouraging words of Abba Anthony and take time for a true Sabbath Rest, giving thanks to God for the many blessings we do have.  And tomorrow, we just might find that a bit of that Rest remains with us all, as we once again go out to face the new day.

God’s Peace be upon you All,

+a Disciple of Jesus (HHC)