Thursday, August 30, 2007

Christ is in our Midst XXX(Letter 43)

.... " Be well, and in God's protection. Do not be dejected even if you are distracted in prayer; keep on forcing yourself to it."


Father John once again gives his spiritual child this important reminder to keep at it, to go forward in the spiritual life regardless as to how one "feels" doing it.

Once again we must stir up to our memory that to grow spiritually requires much work. What we put into it is to a large extent what we will get out of it. Of course, again, results in particular are in His hands, not our own. It is in our hand to offer our lives unto Him in this fashion, in prayer.
In conversation, my spiritual father has told me and in sermons has stated that the only power, truly, given to the sons of men is that of repentance, to turn from a direction away from God to a direction toward God.

To force ourselves to pray is such a repentance. In distraction I tell myself to quit, to give up, for after all, have I not been praying now these many days, weeks, months, years even and I'm still distracted? Is it not tempting to then believe that since I still fail in clearing my mind and am still distracted that I am accomplishing nothing?
Here, in this work, is something that I believe must be said. A person that trains for anything will needfully spend many mundane hours in honing skill, repeating actions thoughtlessly, execute drills of many kinds in the singular effort to acquire expertise in that which is being endeavored.

For example, a young girl learning to play the piano will necessarily have to spend long hours in scales, reading music, fumbling through pieces of music until adeptness may be hers in the piece.
If taken merely in the short term, such training may quickly lose its appeal unless this short term struggle for mastery were placed against the backdrop of the goal in mind or end result. In other words to play the piano. To really play.

I would dare say that this young lady, placed in such a situation as to play for a reason greater than herself, say, she meets a family whose little daughter is so sad because her little brother had gotten sick and passed away. But when the young girl played the piano to the grieving little child the child smiled again. She felt something in the music which resonated in her. The young lady playing the piano in such an event would then know why she endured the long, tedious hours of seemingly meaningless work.

I am convinced that the spiritual life, in this sense is no different. The repetitive praying, going to church, the fastings, the confessions, the alms giving, the curbing of our fallen nature and directing ourselves ever towards God, all this is work. Pure work.

In the Second Epistle of Peter, chapter 1 beginning at verse 3 the Scripture says:

3 as His divine power has given to us all things that
pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by
glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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