Monastic Tips for Self-isolation
The Journey to the Kingdom
The entire world is experiencing the impact of COVID-19, the Novel Corona Virus pandemic. It is commonly said that one of the Chinese words for crisis can be interpreted as opportunity. With so many being unable to go out, we invite you to discover the opportunity to go in. To go in to the place of the heart. Over the coming days, we will be posting wisdom from the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the Church regarding the values to be found from times of silence, solitude, and reflection.
Sarapion the Sindonite travelled once on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here he was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived in one small room, never going out. Sceptical about her way of life - for he was himself a great wanderer - Sarapion called on her, and asked, 'Why are you sitting here?' To which she replied, 'I am not sitting; I am on a journey.'
Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p. 70
A journey. It has been said that some will miss the Kingdom of Heaven by eighteen inches, the distance from the head to the heart. This collective experience of isolation provides a rare opportunity for a common journey to our hearts. While thankful for the virtual connections we share through social media, cell phones and the internet, let us nurture the most vital connection for any of us, the encounter of man with the Living God in the heart.
Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21) One of the great lights of the heart is St. Isaac of Syria. He invites us to go deeper. Listen:
Be at peace with your soul; then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the kingdom is hidden within your soul. Flee from sin, dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the stairs by which to ascend.
Mystic Treatises, trans. A.J. Wensinck, p. 8.
Great riches await us. Let us not delay. Let us begin anew this epic journey - to the heart, to the Kingdom, to Christ.