Monk in Prayer
A brother went to Abba Mateos and said to him, “How is it that the monks of Scetis did more than the scriptures require in loving their enemies more than themselves?’ Abba Mateos said to him, ‘ As for me I have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.’
—-Abba Mateos of the Desert
Everyone wants an honest answer to their questions, but they are not always pleased with the answers they receive. The brother went to his spiritual director and asked the age old question about loving our enemies. Somehow he had gotten the impression that the monks of Scetis were miles ahead of him in dealing with the spiritual dilemma of loving enemies. Abba Mateos speaks volumes in his answer. He says that he does not love his closest companions as much as he loves himself. True Christ-like love is a very difficult task. My read is that he was telling his brother not to believe everything he hears, but to work and pray for his own enlightenment.
This Abba’s word is as relevant today as it was 1500 years ago. We are surrounded by people that have arrived spiritually and are willing to tell us everything we must do and how much better they are than us. Discouragement is alive and well, and it is a plague of the church. Humility and knowledge of self is the foundation of all Christian maturity. Take the time to examine your love for yourself and others with the eyes of your heart and not the words of others. That’s my honest answer.
- Get Up…and Love. (renewingeve.wordpress.com)
A Brother said to Abba Mateos, ‘Give me a word.’ He said to him, ‘ restrain the spirit of controversy in yourself, in everything, and weep, have compunction, for the time is drawing near.’
—-Abba Mateos of the Desert
The wise Abba tells us to refrain from controversy. Our world is wrought with controversy, because it appears as though we thrive on our divisions. Governments, families, and churches all seem to have a great need to live in a state of conflict. Many people think that this postmodern world is the cause of this state of affairs, but here we see this man of the desert approaching this subject fourteen hundred years ago. He describes controversy as a “spirit,” which says to me that it is a real driving force that wraps itself around us and produces negative results.
Abba Mateos’ advice to his fellow monks, and to us, is for us to have compunction. That is to allow our moral compasses to guide us in the situations that are given to us. Ultimately, it is our choice how we react to any event, statement or accusation. The challenge is to act as though the time to face our God was near. Mateos calls us to be in peace with those that disagree and hold to other beliefs. The compunction, moral code, of the Christian is to have a spirit of harmony. Just as Christ reconciled the world by suffering the cross we, as His followers, are called to stay away from controversy and to embrace His love. Let us strive to develop a spirit of compunction instead of a spirit of controversy.
A brother went to Abba Mateos and said to him, ‘How is it that the monks of Scetis did more than the scriptures required in loving their enemies more than themselves?’ Abba Mateos said to him, ’As for me I have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.’
——Abba Mateos of the desert
The Christian journey is a long series of “not there yet” experiences. Too often we are prodded along by people that have very high views of their own spiritual worth. These high minded ones are often sources of discouragement to us, but we must always remember that we, and they, have not yet attained perfection. Our lives are a saga of moving toward God but always being fully aware of our sinful nature. Life is about forgiving ourselves and our neighbors as God forgives us. Somehow we must summon the level of mercy that God pours out on us, and understand that it is applicable to all. In that spirit we can love and forgive, not as inferiors or superiors to anyone, but as equals to all.
- Forgiveness (sharingthelightblog.com)