Sometimes it seems that our lives are a series of storms. We try to live with stormy marriages, stormy relationships with our children, stormy connections with extended family, stormy job situations, and stormy financial conditions. On and on, the storms rage in our lives. We find ourselves tossed about, overrun, confused and frightened. We desperately try to hold back the waves and still the vicious winds in our lives. Finally, with a sense of helplessness, we realize that we can’t control the storm.
One night, Jesus’ disciples found themselves at the mercy of the violent winds and churning waves of the Sea of Galilee. Just as they were about to abandon hope of controlling their small boat, they say Jesus walking on the sea toward them! Talk about confused and frightened! They thought they must be seeing a ghost! But Jesus spoke to the disciples over the roar of the storm and said, “Cheer up! I’m here, don’t be afraid.” He gave them hope, and then he stilled the storm for them!
Jesus walks on the stormy seas of our lives even today. Just as it seems we are about to be overcome by the hurt, the stress, the fear of our own personal storm, we can see Jesus as He calls out to us, “Cheer up! I’m here, don’t be afraid.” Just as He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee for Peter and the other disciples, He will still your storm as well. Jesus is the answer to your problems – whatever they are. He still speaks to His people, cheers them, and gives them hope. He will still walk on the troubled sea of your life and rescue you from the storm.
PRAYER: Father – Help me depend on you when I face one of life’s storms. Thank you for your great faithfulness to me.
- Advice For The Storm-tossed (deadcitizensrightssociety.wordpress.com)
Handwritten Wycliffe Bible – The Prologue of John
In my various writings and gleanings of spiritual materials I sometimes neglect the importance of having a reliable version of the Bible that I can read in my own language. The father of the English Bible is the Oxford scholar, John Wycliffe. His enemies called him “John Wicked-Believe,” and his church branded him a heretic and traitor. Wycliffe completed his translation directly from the Vulgate into English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe’s Bible. Below is the prologue of John from that Bible.
John 1:1-5 (Wycliffe Bible)
1 In the beginning was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. 2 This was in the beginning at God. 3 All things were made by him, and without him was made nought, that thing that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men; 5 and the light shineth in darknesses, and darknesses comprehended not it.
Prayer Thought: Lord we thank for those who sacrificed to bring your Word to us.
The story of Cain from the Caedmon manuscript.
Caedmon was an Anglo-Saxon who cared for the animals at Whitby Abbey. He was ignorant of the “art of song”, but according to the 8th Century monk Bede, he learned to compose one night in a dream sent to him by God. He later joined the Abbey and became an inspirational poet. Today I share his surviving work – Caedmon’s Hymn.
Now we must honor the guardian of heaven,
the might of the architect, and his purpose,
the work of the father of glory
as he, the eternal lord, established the beginning of wonders;
he first created for the children of men
heaven as a roof, the holy creator
Then the guardian of mankind,
the eternal lord, afterwards appointed the middle earth,
the lands for men, the Lord almighty.
Filed under Bede, Poetry, Prayer
An excellent post! Well worth reading.
While still living in the palace, Abba Arsenius prayed to God in these words, ‘Lord, lead me in the way of salvation.’ And a voice came to him saying, ‘Arsenius, flee from men and you will be saved.’ Having withdrawn to a solitary life he made the same prayer again and he heard a voice saying to him, Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the source of sinfulness.
——-Arsenius of the Desert
Location does not cause us to sin or save us from sin. That is the message of this desert saying. At first glance such an idea takes us by surprise. Most of us think that if we get away from the bad place, the bad company ,or whatever else seems to vex us, things will automatically get better. Arsenius prayed with sincerity asking for an answer to his plight, and he thought he had found one. Going from the palace to the monastery would take care of everything. Apparently after his move, he still felt an emptiness or restlessness. He once again prayed and to his surprise heard the same answer. The fleeing he was called to do came from the inside out not the outside in.
Nothing has changed in the past 1500 years. Change begins in our hearts. Solitude is not a place; it is a condition. There are places that seem more conducive to prayer and contemplation, and we should seek them, but in the end we must find a contemplative heart. Let us not pine away over our inability to change our physical location and work diligently to change the location of our hearts.
From the rule of St. Benedict, Sixth Century A.D. “If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.
True hospitality to the pilgrim is difficult enough, but dealing with someone that disrupts the community is even harder. The solution proposed by Benedict is quite radical by our standards. Perhaps the 21st century could learn from him. Who knows?
- The Rule of St. Benedict (knowltonss.wordpress.com)
There is so much violence in the world today. Christians are being driven out of their homes in places where they have dwelt for nearly two thousand years. As a community we must lift them in prayer. This call to prayer is one we need.
Henri Nouwen in his L’Arche journal ‘The Road to Daybreak’ gives a really helpful example of this by quoting a summarized version of ‘The Three Hermits’ story written by Leo Tolstoy in the 19th century, that for me gets to the very heart of prayer.
“Three Russian monks lived on a faraway island. Nobody ever went there, but one day their bishop decided to make a pastoral visit. When he arrived, he discovered that the monks didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer. So he spent all his time and energy teaching them the “Our Father” and then left, satisfied with his pastoral work. But when his ship had left the island and was back in the open sea, he suddenly noticed the three hermits walking on the water – in fact, they were running after the ship! When they reached it, they cried, “Dear Father, we have forgotten the prayer you taught us.” The bishop overwhelmed by what he was seeing and hearing, said, “But, dear brothers, how then do you pray?” They answered, “Well, we just say, ‘Dear God, there are three of us and there are three of you, have mercy on us!’” The bishop, awestruck by their sanctity and simplicity, said, “Go back to your land and be at peace.”
We are caught so much in the “how to” of life that we never get to the real thing. Prayer and faith are things we just do.
“What am I to do, Abba, since passions and demons beset me?” a young monk asked the holy Abbot.
“Do not say that you are bothered by demons, child,” answered the elder, “because the greater part of us are beset by our own evil desires.”
——Sayings of the Desert
Flip Wilson was a quite popular stand-up comedian of the 60’s and 70’s whose trademark phrase was “the devil made me do it.” His catch phase served as an excuse for any type of outrageous behavior. Those words became very popular and were used by many to excuse their own behavior. Flip Wilson knew the expression was just a joke, but this expression is hidden in each of us. They are an unrelenting desire to pass responsibility along to someone or something else.
The wise Abba is confronted by the very same concept by a young monk. This young brother couldn’t possibly see that he was largely responsible for his our behavior. His Abba correctly instructed him to start with himself, and in doing so he would find victory over the demons. This approach holds a very profound lesson for us. Transformation begins with me.
My favorite pop philosopher, Jimmy Buffet, says it all in his signature song – Margaritaville. After three verses of decrying his plight with the words “there must be someone to blame,” the final verse says, “its my own d**n fault.
OURS IS THE GREATER PART
I found this article and thought it might be helpful to those who read this blog for information on the Desert Fathers. Click on the link below.
The Ancient Fathers of the Desert: Introduction and Commentary — Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.