Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I keep on falling...there is no hope!

Fr. Mina the Hermit (Pope Kyrillos VI)

The relationship a monk has with his spiritual father is one of humility and obedience. The monks and nuns have a special relationship with their spiritual father or mother. It is no different with the disciples of Fr. Mina the Hermit (later Pope Kyrillos VI) who trusted that their father would guide them on their path towards Christ. Fr. Mina instructed them in the monastic path and cared for their salvation, and glory to God, we have his letters which can also help us in our lives here in the world. Fr. Mina gives them lots of practical advice like when to sign themselves with the sign of the cross, to how they should walk and what prayers to say while walking. To us living in the world we can be stubborn and troubled with pride when we hear these words of Fr. Mina, but we must be reminded that he was often addressing monks and even the most simple action he teaches his disciples to do, can bear lots of fruit if only we ask God to heal us from our blindness and to open our eyes to His mysteries.

Not only monastics must be disciplined, but we also must be disciplined in everything we do! Before reading some of what this holy father taught, I would like to start with some of his words which provides us with the answer as to why we must be watchful and disciplined in all our actions.

“Everything should have order and discipline, because our God is a God of order and discipline. When this is so, there will be blessing and grace. Consider the miracle Jesus did when He fed the multitudes on five loaves and two fish, and see how Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Make them sit down by fifties in a company’. Is this not an indication of order and discipline? It is imperative to follow order in eating, drinking, as you sit, in your clothing, in your behavior, in your laughter, in your prayer, while fasting, in your hymns, in your speech, in all your dealings.”
(Christian Behavior, p. 7)

Let this serve for us a reminder to be obedient to our spiritual fathers, to ask them for a prayer rule, how to fast, how to serve, when and what to pray, etc. Let’s not grow lazy when we are asked to do something by our spiritual father or mother, every time you fall…get up! Remember these words of Pope Kyrillos VI:

“If you have trained yourself in these things, you will reap fruits or rewards thereof. Once you have tried it, you will find it so easy. It is natural that in the beginning, the enemy of righteousness will try to make the matter difficult for you, but day after day, you will find that it is very easy and you will want to increase this practice. Brother, as you care for your body, you should also care for your soul. It is your duty to do so.”

And if you try to do what your spiritual father or confessor tells you to do but fail and end up falling into despair and thinking that your condition is helpless and can’t be fixed, then remember also these words by another holy saint, St. John Climacus, otherwise known as St. John of the Ladder:

“Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience."

Be patient, fight the good fight!

A monk was once asked, what do you do there in the monastery? He replied, ‘We fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up again.’

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