Monastic Tips for Self-isolation
Eyes to see
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 the limiting of so many being able 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.
Abba Xanthios said, ‘A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge.’
Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, B. Ward, SLG, p. 46
There was an [elder] living in the desert who served God for many years and he said, ‘Lord, let me know if I have pleased you.’ He saw an angel who said to him, ‘You have not yet become like the gardener in such and such a place.’ The [elder] marvelled and said, ‘I will go off to the city to see both him and what it is that he does that surpasses all my work and toil these years.’ …
So he went to the city and asked the gardener about his way of life … When they were getting ready to eat in the evening, the [elder] heard people in the streets singing songs, for the cell of the gardener was in a public place. Therefore the [elder] said to him, ‘Brother, wanting as you do to live according to God, how do you remain in this place and not be troubled when you hear them singing these songs?’
The man said, ‘I tell you, abba, I have never been troubled or scandalized.’ When he heard this the [elder] said, ‘What, then, to you think in your heart when you hear these things?’ And he replied, ‘That they are all going into the Kingdom.’ When he heard this, the [elder] marvelled and said, ‘This is the practice which surpasses my labour of all these years.’
Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, B. Ward, SLG, p. 53
Once the holy Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Titus, that ‘to the pure all things are pure’ (Tit. 1:15). After Baptism and Communion, when a soul has been made clear by the pure streams of the Words of God and the Holy Spirit, a different point of view takes over. It is the perspective of the Son of God through your eyes. For you are then in communion with Him.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, taught us, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ (Mt. 5:8). This seeing of God is not only at the end of this world, but a clear, pure heart is able to see God in the people around them, in the providential acts of life, in the way things work out. A pure heart sees God in everything.
In the world today, a cold, cynical attitude toward life is often rewarded and respected. They are considered wise, intelligent, relative, and ‘real.’ But ‘mercy triumphs over judgement’ (James 2:13). To not be judged, we must not judge. To be forgiven, we must forgive. To be loved, we must love. It starts with a pure heart.
These are the days of Lent that have been shared with the entire globe, the entire world. Days to quiet down, reflect and purify our hearts. As we are cleansed, may our eyes be open to see God, in each one and in each circumstance. Lord open our eyes that we may see!