The desert fathers are big time spiritual athletes and champions. Some speak to the Creator "as a friend speaks to his own friend." They give their blood in spiritual and physical struggle and exercise and receive the Holy Spirit in exchange! They are the friends of God! We can be His friends too!!! Living in constant communication with the Creator, spiritual warriors live at peace with all creatures- even the most deadly and dangerous.
Many times around their dwellings one can perceive the footprints of wild animals in many numbers. A testimony to the fact that creatures seeing the Spirit of God in a human being love that person, and are like pets to him.
The more rugged the terrain, the harder the climate, the more inspired a person becomes to seek the Lord. Creation in its purity, testifies to His presence. The hardness of the rock becomes soft with God, the coldness of the wind warm with His love, the heat of the desert soothing coolness with His Presence.
An ancient legend says that as long as 14 ascetics, pray to God and live a holy life in ascetic struggle, the human race will continue. These 14 elders are always alive in all generations. As one dies another is found to take his place. As long as another replacement is found the human race is granted more time.
Sometimes as human beings we may lose hope. Our courage may grow weak. At times when we feel dry inside and empty we need to move forward and exercise our courage. Giving up at such moments, leads to more emptiness, boredom, the feeling that we have no meaning or purpose. A very holy Elder and Saint, Seraphim of Sarov speaks to such moments when he says: God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. "And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil, - for the devil is cold - then let us call upon the Lord, and He will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for Him, but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth the coldness of the hater of good will be driven away."
St. Seraphim is an example of how a human being can become and angel on earth, and a "god by grace," as the fathers say. He lived in the wilderness of Russia, in the forest of Sarov as a hermit. Having become a vehicle of the Holy Spirit he was at peace with human beings, animals and all nature. Visitors on going to his hermitage at times would see a great bear that was fierce and yet the helper and friend of St. Seraphim.
The truth of the matter is that we can help too. The Creator of the Universe speaks to each of us a thousand times a day, but we are not in sync with Him. We can do our best to be in communion with God. To find our own private "cave" according to our ability, a quiet place in our lives to be alone with Him Who Is. More than paying our taxes, or voting properly, or being honest and industrious, (though all these things are very important and need to be done by us!), communicating with God in love gives the whole human race more time. It is the most important thing we can each do, and we are all called to do so. When we live with the Lord we pick up His habits and our heart becomes simple and pure like a childís. The Desert Fathers who live in such self denial and ascetic exercise, become innocent as children in their hearts. Here is a great story that shows what I mean. Please allow me to share it with you my friend:
"There were two Elders who dwelt together for many years and who never quarreled. Then one said to the other: "Let us pick a quarrel with each other like other men do." "I do not know how quarrels arise," answered his companion. So the other said to him: "Look, I will put a brick down here between us and I will say 'This is mine.' Then you can say 'No it is not, it is mine.' Then we will be able to have a quarrel." So they placed the brick between them and the first one said: "This is mine." His companion answered him: "This is not so, for it is mine." To this, the first one said: "If it is so and the brick is yours, then take it and go your way." And so they were not able to have a quarrel."
See its kinda a mystery, a great mystery in fact: The Lord "scans" the entire earth for children of His that pray to Him, that want to talk with Him, and be His friend. Especially at night, when the rest of the human race sleeps or parties, the Lord seeks those that are speaking to Him, who desire His company! We can pray anytime of course and should, but the night is when nature is at rest renewing itself, and when a person in the stillness of the darkness can commune with God in joy and love without distraction. Though this is a blessing that we can each bestow upon the human race, by becoming a "lightening rod" of grace so to speak, inside we will be different. Gradually the Lord will change our insides, and instead of getting old and tired as the years go by, we will be renewed in our hearts and be as children inside forever! The Prophet Isaiah express this by saying: "but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."Filled with joy the Holy Spirit will as rays of light flow out of us to all around us human and not!
There are many ways of praying. We can go into that another time, later in our journey here together. Yet one of the most ancient ways of praying is by repeating a short and blessed phrase that is based on short prayers within the Scriptures. Repeating over and over, using beads or wool or other materials one can say the blessed words:
Sometimes in our struggles in life, we feel alone, as if the Lord even has distanced Himself from us. This is not so! The Lord is with us, giving us strength, walking our struggles with us. He wishes us to be strong in life, not to be wimps. So He allows us to fight, to strive, to walk with faith, to battle, so that our spiritual muscles may grow strong.
Even mighty warriors in Christ, like the saints and desert fathers have felt at times alone in their battles and struggles. Let us share this story form the life of St. Anthony the Great, which illustrates what we are talking about. He lived for decades in the desert, living a life of prayer and self denial. He reached great spiritual heights and was granted many gifts by the Holy Spirit. In his struggles and spiritual warfare Anthony many times faced the evil one in battle. This account is of one such encounter out of the many many that he had. He lived in a cave in the Egyptian desert in the fourth century. In his cave all these things here written took place: After many nights of great ascetic struggle and spiritual exercise, the evil one having nothing more to tempt Anthony with used physical force. The multitude of demons attacking him, physically striking blows left him weak in his body but still strong in the hope of Christ. And he could not stand up on account of the blows, but he prayed as he lay wounded. And after he had prayed, he said with a loud voice, "Here am I, I am Anthony; I do not run from your beatings, for even if you inflict more pain nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ. And then he recited from the Psalms, 'though a army be set against me, my heart shall not be afraid.' These were the thoughts and words of the Elder. However the enemy, who hates good, marveling at the courage of the man of God, that after the violent attack he dared to return to his cave, called together his demons and attacked again saying, "See neither by the spirit of lust nor by physical blows did we keep this man down or defeat him, but he overcomes us, let us attack him in another fashion.' Changes of form are easy for the devil. In the night the demons made such noise that the whole place seemed to be shaken by an earthquake, as if breaking the four walls of the dwelling they seemed to enter through them, coming in the form of beasts and creeping things. And the place was suddenly filled with the forms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, snakes, asps, scorpions, and wolves, and each of them was acting according to its nature. The lion was roaring, wishing to attack, the bull seeming to toss with its horns, the snake writhing but unable to approach, and the wolf as it rushed on was restrained; all together the noises of the apparitions, with their angry raging, was dreadful and most terrifying. Anthony, having been struck and mocked by them, felt even worse physical pains. He lay watching, however, with his soul fearless, moaning from bodily anguish and pain; his mind was clear, and making fun of the devil he said, 'If there had been any power in you, it would have been enough if one of you had come, but since the Lord has made you weak you attempt to terrify me by your many numbers: and a proof of your weakness is that you take the shapes of brute animals to frighten me.' And again with boldness he said, 'If you are able, and have received power against me, do not delay to attack; but if you are unable, why trouble me in vain? For faith in our Lord is a seal and a wall of safety to us.' So after many attempts the demons became aggravated gnashed their teeth upon him, because they were mocking themselves rather than him. Nor was the Lord then forgetful of Anthonyís wrestling, but was at hand to help him. So looking up the Elder saw the roof as it were opened, and a ray of light descending to him. The demons suddenly vanished, the pain of his body immediately ceased, and the building was again whole. Anthony feeling the help, catching his breath again, and being freed from pain, inquired of the vision which had appeared to him, saying, 'Where were You? Why did You not appear at the beginning to make my pains cease?' And a voice came to him, 'Anthony, I was here, but I waited to see your struggle; since you has endured, and has not been defeated, I will ever be your comfort, and will make your name known everywhere.' Having heard this, Anthony arose and prayed, and received such strength that he perceived that he had more strength in his body than before. And he was then about thirty-five years old.
All we need to do is to try our very best. That is all the Lord asks. If we seek to speak to Him whenever we have a free moment, if we think of Him and love Him, slowly our lives will be intertwined with His. He will live inside us and we will live in Him. In this way within we will feel rivers of living water flowing in our depths, refreshing and cooling us, giving us life, but also refreshing those that are around us. Check back soon, I am trying to make progress and make this site better. See ya for now and God Bless.
the encounter with the Living God
Check back soon, I am trying to make progress and make this site better. See ya for now and God Bless.
the encounter with the Living God