October Messsage from Fr. Justin

Posted on Oct 5, 2016

One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own interior life. Someone noticed this and said to him, “Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your interior life?” He replied, “I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.”

My kids have gone back to school and the cooler weather has started to show itself. On September the 14th we celebrated Holy Cross day, which marks the “Winter Season” in the liturgical calendar the start of the “great fast”. This “Winter” season ran until Easter and was a kind of the training period or learning period for those engaged in the spiritual life also known as the interior life. And though Abba Arsenius was living and practicing in the desert, before the sense of winter training emerged in Church culture, we can see he is earnest in learning the alphabet of these hardy desert practitioners.

One of the reemerging movements in the Christian tradition is the widespread practice of learning to pray not only with our thoughts and emotions but with our very being. Learning to pray with our being or as Jesus calls it, our “Heart” takes some time and study. It takes time to learn how to let go of our grip on thoughts and our egoist reactions. It takes time for us to learn how to intentionally pray and live in that Heart and from that Heart. We are learning the alphabet of the interior life, the language of the Heart and it is the Heart that recognized that in which we “live and move and have our being.”

My kids are learning the alphabet, so they will be able to read and write and open a great gateway of learning. Let us too take up the alphabet of these hardy practitioners of old. Let us embark on the winter training season and begin to study the ways through the Spiritual life. Take the time to learn how to recognize the Divine Presence, to discern the Body of Christ, to live in the Heart, by whatever means you can. Maybe the Fall Workshops, the Wednesday Evening Contemplative Prayer periods, or meeting with a teacher of prayer or a spiritual director is in your reach. You could even talk with me (Fr. Justin) on where to make a beginning or how you might consider your next steps. However you can, try and get some traction with this alphabet of the interior life.

I leave you with a few words of Abba Arsenius,

“If we seek God, God will reveal Godself to us, and if we keep God, God will remain intimate with us.”