Tag Archives: Desert Mothers

Fasting, Medicine, Approval and Purity

Francisco_de_Zurbarán_043

Today I share some wisdom from Desert Mother Amma Syncletica. The Desert Mothers were women Christian ascetics living in the desert of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. They typically lived in the monastic communities that began forming during that time, though sometimes they lived as hermits Their writings are largely lost because of the male dominance of the church in this time period.

Most of us can relate to medicine tasting bad, and in the same breath admit to it Amma Syn1doing our bodies some good. The wise Amma brings fasting and medicine into the same conversation. Quite often I have had people approach me about the reason and necessity of fasting as a spiritual discipline. Some say that they get absolutely nothing out of fasting except pangs of hunger. Fasting, like any other discipline, must be approached in an attitude of faith. Fasting and prayer are often linked together .Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world and focus more completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God. With that awareness, we have received a dose of Spiritual medicine that leads us toward our goal of being “one with Him.” Might I suggest that a day of fasting and dedication to our awareness of God could do us all a bit of good.

An undue amount of time is spent byAmm Syn 2 all of us seeking the approval of one person or another. The Amma tells us that if approval of all is necessary, we will spend our lives begging for a mere earthly goal. Instead she suggests that purity of the heart should be our goal. This whole concept of universal approval is an impossibility, however, purity of heart is a difficult but reachable goal. As we seek to live the Christian life, we should learn the wisdom of seeking purity rather than approval.

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Finding God

Many people living secluded lives on the mountain have perished by living like people in the world. It is better to live in a crowd and want to live a solitary life than to live a solitary life but all the time be longing for company.

—-Amma Matrona

Many people yearn for a place apart, our own little corner of the cosmos where we can discover our true selves and touch the hand of God. Our first inclination is to “get away” to a place of solitude and surely God would be there. The wise desert mother tells us that solitude is first and foremost a matter of heart. Many people have sought to escape only to find that they are trapped by their own fallen nature no matter where they find themselves.

Woman in prayerWe all seek our Creator and feel that if we could just be relieved of the pressures, bothers and interferences of everyday life we would find Him. Not so says Amma Matrona. Solitude is a state of mind that begins long before we escape to our desert. The real key is to empty ourselves and allow that void to be filled by God. No amount of social interaction or physical isolation can bring us close to God. This is achieved as a matter of heart.

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Narrow Gate

Desert MothersLet us strive  to enter by the narrow  gate, Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is  only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.’

—-Amma Theodora

 

We all look toward the gate of deliverance. Our lives are full of turmoil and confusion. We find hard to believe that all of our sufferings are really God’s way of making us ready. All of us would prefer a life that is absent of pain, guilt, stress and those unrestrained emotions that cause us to lay awake night after night. God seems to put us on a “spiritual fitness” routine to prepare us for our ultimate destination. We must understand the evil that is around us before we can see the ultimate good of God. That understanding make us aware that God’s grace is our only hope.

Lord I surrender myself to you this day. May you use all my trails to turn my face towards you. Amen

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March 25 — Day 18

John 1:9-14

9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

 

Amma Theodora‘Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate, Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven

——- Amma Theodora

Prayer Starter — Lord help me to see the light that you shine upon me.

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Humbled Soul

English: Sfanta Melania Română: Sfanta Melania

English: Sfanta Melania Română: Sfanta Melania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Nothing humbles the soul more than the scarcity of bread and water. When the enemy wants to take a city, he first stops the food and water supplies, and they thus give themselves up even against their will. So is it for a monastic-unless he restrains his stomach with hunger and thirst, he cannot rid himself of evil thoughts

 

——Amma Sarah

There will always be a question of just how our souls are humbled. The advice of this Desert Mother is clear. If we can train our bodies to be disciplined we are able to withstand the assualt of the enemy. Our ability to willingly sacrifice in the name of God can make us strong.Prayer and fasting are the best disciplines to bring us to unity with God.

 

 

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