Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Christ is in our MIdst XLII(letter 63)

... " It is not necessary to fear weakness, for the Lord came down from Heaven for the weak. If a man recognizes his weakness and repents, the Lord in his mercy will not remember his weaknesses and sins. The most necessary things to fear are devilish pride, vainglory, hostility and condemnation, but weaknesses serve to humble our imagined piety. Do not be surprised that good people who are close to the Church and are deep believers are always heaping abuse when they are wounded. These people are superficial, they have no understanding of the one thing needful, and so outward piety does them no good. But it is necessary to pray for N and have sympathy for her heavy cross.

Recently a monk said to me: I am tired of living; if only I would die! I would like to be turned into nothingness.' But I kept silent; I know that he will not accept my advice. You see, all monks are well read and each understands theology and the teaching of the Holy Fathers in his own way, rightly or wrongly, and they hold to their convictions. For such people, advice from the outside is inappropriate; they themselves are keen to teach others. Oh, how well the holy Abba Dorotheos expressed it: 'Each is careless and does not keep a single commandment, yet he holds his neighbour accountable for the commandments' [p. 144], How many examples of this one sees in the course of a day! Of course I do not pay attention to them, for this is an ordinary phenomenon. If we observe ourselves we see utter chaos in our heart, and phenomena like this do not touch our heart. "


Ah, the ragings of youth. All was possible to me, nothing deigned deny me. If with denial I actually did meet, quickly and easily the next plan concocted itself within my mind and so I overcame denial of me. I would just move on to the next.

To be sure, I felt the sting often of my foolish pride as well the blows to my over inflated vainglory but youth has a way of drawing from within itself the necessary resources to overcome.

It, youth, of course is blind to its position relative to the whole of life. From within the present moment it occupies its expiration and becoming aged comes upon it most unexpectedly and in most subtle manner age supplants youth, experience takes the place of naivete and the blind belief that "things will just work themselves out."

Now, I must mention, in all fairness, that the picture I paint above is one without hope in Him or of the one who cries, "Lord, I believe; Help Thou mine unbelief!"(Mark 9:24). This picture is of one who, having had all sufficiency within himself(delusionally so, lest the inexperienced reader be tempted to suppose that I the writer believe it possible to be self-sufficient in the ultimate sense of holding the end of my destiny in my own two hands), suddenly comes to the end of himself and finds no more reservoir of hope to draw from. All around becomes quicksand and he dare not move in any direction lest he sink further in.

To such a place I may say, as I may best humbly judge, had I arrived. To such places I find myself invariably often. All my strength is as nought against the incredible undertow and current that takes me with it to a destiny I had not imagined would be my own.

I would ask the reader's forgiveness for speaking cryptically at this point and not divulging specific instances of this powerlessness. My intention is that leaving blank the details, the reader may exchange his own experience for that of my own and perhaps find in these instances examples for himself as an aid to his own journey toward brokenness before the Master. For only coming to Him in such a state, I believe, may we be healed of the bedevilments Father John speaks of to his spiritual child: devilish pride, vainglory, hostility and condemnation.

At this point I should further like to state that it is my hope that these weaknesses serve to humble me, only if I should be in the hand of Him who is utilizing the circumstances causing the humbling to come about within me to the end that He may be born in me.

I have to admit, at times my faith that such is the case is almost nothing. And I am coming to the "understanding" that I do not have to understand, only believe in Him, take Him at His word radically and wholeheartedly.

May it be so. May I further become weak that He may be strong. May my weakness drive me to cling to Him and not to any of my own supposed good qualities, even the ones that used to work and bring about ends I thought at the time were the very things that would cause my happiness.

All vanities. All vapours, fleeting and wisping away.

"To him be all glory, worship and honor, unto the ages of ages."


Read the previous post in this series:


Anonymous said...

Ah, perfecting the art of desperate stillness without despair. Well said!

Sophocles said...


I like that observation. Would you be able to expand its breadth?

And thank you.

Anonymous said...

I do not feel qualified to expand on it really. All I know is that I have been confused when I seek after that which is not of God. Never comfortable or at peace when fulfilling selfish appetites. yet while pursuing them I always justify myself.
But if I decide against the selfish disobedience, at first it is very painful, then humbling when I realize how horrible and far from God it really was.
So I think obedience initially requires being willing to endure the pain of not getting the quick fix which is what repentance is. Then to fix our eyes on Him in our helplessness, sadness, disappointment and pain, realizing, sometimes by faith, that He is our help, our joy, our hope, and our peaceful well-being. And I think He is faithful to supply these things in enough measure to make it increasingly worth our while if we stay quietly open to Him.
Maybe it's something like that.

Sophocles said...


If I may now retort, well said.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind invitation and retort. :)