Tag Archives: Religion & Spirituality

Seeds of Humanity

The mystic Julian of Norwich, holding an acorn in her hand in the fourteenthjulian century said of it, “In this is all that is.” The Earth shakes at the thought of the simple truth of it.

In every seed is the gift of life to those seeking life, wanting life, denied the kind of life that is full of energy, full of hope. But the hope is a tenuous one, a sacred one, one to be treated with awe for fear of our own failure to protect it.

Seeds are the one thing that are the only genuine promise we have of the future. “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow,” Martin Luther wrote, “I would plant an apple tree today.” It is an insight that defies despair, that promises new life in the midst of the old. It is a beacon that cries out for commitment in an age such as ours when the seeds of destruction among us—greed, power, and control—are in mortal struggle with the seeds of life.

And now, so accustomed have we become to destruction in the name of progress, we are on the brink of commercializing seed, of politicizing seed, of monopolizing seed, of genetically modifying seeds for the sake of someone’s control of creation, of making seed the new military weapon of the twenty-first century.

It is all a matter of valuing the money we can make today more than we value the life that is meant to come.

But the problem is that we ourselves are all seeds, too. We are either seeds of universal love or seeds of exploitative racism. We are seeds of eternal hope or we are seeds of starving despair. We are seeds of a new humanity or we are the harbingers of humanity’s decay.

It is a choice. A conscious choice that depends on what we see in seeds and how we treat them and whose we think they are and what we will do to keep them free and available. Or not.

We are the seed of our own life to come and the life of the planet as well. Indeed, “In the seed is everything that is.

Joan Chittister

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Celtic Night Prayer

Celtic Night Prayer Graphic


June 27, 2014 · 12:09 pm

24-7 Prayer Worship

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Our Ever-present God

 One day Abba Daniel and Abba Ammoes went on a journey together. Abba Ammoes said, ‘When shall we, too, settle down, in a cell, Father?’ Abba Daniel replied, ‘Who shall separate us henceforth from God?   God is in the cell, and, on the other hand, he is outside also.’

——-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

When John Wesley began to preach outside it was seen as an innovation in his time. And yet some 1000 years earlier we see this Abba saying that God is outside as well. It is amazing that these men of the desert were so far ahead when it comes to seeing God in all His ways and places. Today we live in a time of conflicting styles of worship and even of questions about the presence of God. We may want to take the words of Abba Daniel to heart and realize that God is always with us. God is not trapped or confined to a building or a place. He is our ever-present God

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Filed under contemplative, Desert Fathers, John Wesley, Lent, Monasticism

God’s Grace


god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

He also said, ‘God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much.’

—sayings of the Desert

These words were recorded some 1500 years ago. Too often we think that no generation or people have had it tougher than us. It seems that the theme of this being the “worst of times” has been around a long time. The wisdom of the desert tells us that God lessens the temptations on those who cannot bear them. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”(I Cor. 6:18) Rest assured, bad things will happen, but God always gives us a way out.

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St Catherine's Chapel

St Catherine’s Chapel (Photo credit: http://www.ruffrootcreative.com)

Abba Mark asked Abba Arsenius ‘Is it good to have nothing extra in the cell?  I know a brother who had some vegetables  and  he  has  pulled  them  up.’  Abba  Arsenius replied, ‘Undoubtedly that is good but it must be done according to a man’s capacity.  For if he does not have the strength for such a practice he will soon plant others.’

——Sayings of the Desert Fathers

I suppose the toughest part of the Christian journey is to discover my capacity. I want answers, handles, methods to live my life as a devoted follower of Christ. The wisdom of the desert tells me that there is no one answer, but our loving God accommodates my “capacity”. What does that mean? It seems to ring the tone of situational ethics but no, it is really scriptural.  First Corinthians 10: 13 tells us that we will not be given more than we can bear. In our “one right answer society” we expect everyone to be of the same belief, actions and journey but that is not reality. God gives each person a capacity of faith that we offer to him and He, in turn, gives a faith journey that we can accomplish.

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The Heart of Change

Sacred Heart Church of Gibraltar

Sacred Heart Church of Gibraltar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A brother questioned Abba Arsenius to hear a word of him and the old man said to him, ‘Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you will overcome exterior passions.

—-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

 The message of the old man is simple. Change your heart and the rest will follow. Too many of us make the mistake of thinking that we can change our behavior and our hearts will change. True change, God given change, begins with a change of heart. Jesus said, “It is what is inside of a man that corrupts .”

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Finding Space for God

Monk in cellAbba Anthony said, ‘just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace.  So like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.’

 —–Sayings of the Desert Fathers


I would venture to say that very few of us that will read this are monks. Nevertheless, the challenge is very clear. Christians who spend the bulk of their time seeking pleasure from material things will find themselves in spiritual distress. Take the lesson from the wisdom of the fathers, and spend some time each day in the things of God.


Jesus our peace, if our lips keep silence, our heart listens to you and also speaks to you. And you say to each one of us: surrender yourself in all simplicity to the life of the Holy Spirit; for this, the little bit of faith you have is enough. Amen

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Filed under Advent, Advent Devotional, Antony of Egypt, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Monasticism, Uncategorized

Ascend to God

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, ‘this is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath. He  also  said,  ‘Whoever  has  not  experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations no-one can be saved.’

—-Sayings of the Desert Fathers


In a world where TV networks hire “spin doctors” to make the story turn in the “right” direction,  it is no wonder we fail to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures. After all, this problem must be somebody else’s fault. It is no wonder that Anthony called it the great work of life. All of us have someone to blame for our sin and shortcomings. It is our childhood, the boss, the job, the teacher or if all else fails, just everyone. That’s bad enough, but the best is yet to come. We are to expect temptations throughout our lives – no relief, no time out. They are part of the human condition. Temptations are what form us into the children of God. Our challenge is to ascend to God and walk the path he has set before us.


Lord God, give me the courage and grace to ascend to You. Help me to turn away from the excuses that so readily fill my lips and rise to the occasion of my sin. Help me to see the many temptations of my life as the road to perfection. I ask for strength and grace to stay on that road. I ask this though the one who saves and sustains me. Amen

  • Temptation (savedbygraceblogdotcom.wordpress.com)

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Filed under Advent, Advent Devotional, Antony of Egypt, Desert Fathers, Monasticism

Work and Prayer

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet.

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction?  How can I be saved?’ A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray.   It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him.  He heard the angel saying to him, ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage.  He did this, and he was saved.

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers


What would life look like for you and me if we truly dedicated ourselves to work and prayer? At first glance it looks a little bit dreary, but with further thought it may begin to make a lot of sense. Most of us spend a great deal of time and money trying to figure out how to entertain ourselves. Another great goal is becoming a successful and productive person. If we truly dedicated our lives to work and prayer, I think both of those issues would be resolved. We would find ourselves very successful and productive, and with prayer very much at peace and rested. For a few days , let’s just try this work/prayer pattern and see what happens.


Lord let me see my work as prayer. This day I dedicate myself to be a person of prayerful work, that is, one who does my very best at every task that comes my way. Help me to truly see my work as sent from you as a way of loving me. In this I will find productivity and peace. It is only through this trust  that I can come to see the fullness of your grace.

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Filed under Advent, Advent Devotional, Antony of Egypt, Christian Living, Desert Fathers, Monasticism