Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Morning in the Desert - Easter Edition

Christ is Risen! Alleluia! I hope you had a blessed Easter Sunday - remember that in the life of the Church, Easter is not just one day, but a season which lasts for the next several weeks.

 Before today's quote, I will note the slight change in direction that I'm going to take in the "Monday Morning in the Desert" series.

For the past six months, each Monday morning, I have posted a quote from one of the ancient Desert Mothers and Fathers, the original Christian monks who inhabited the deserts of Egypt a few centuries after Christ. I am going to continue the "Monday Morning in the Desert" series, but consistent with what I have learned about the "desert" over the past few months, I'm going to expand the source material to those from other times and places - even modern times - who who have practiced contemplative spirituality.  After all, contemplative spirituality is about developing interior silence, not just getting away to a place of exterior silence.  In other words, the "desert" can exist at any time and place where one's heart and mind is focused on God, and is not distracted by the internal noise of thoughts, impulses, and memories which can distract us from God.  As a modern day desert father (Father Lazarus of St. Anthony's Monastery, Egypt) said: "[E]xterior silence... is transient; it will not last....[I]nterior silence... is much harder to find, but it is long-lasting... If I don't have interior silence, I can be as busy as if I were in New York."  (From pp. 34-35 of "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" by Norris Chumley).

So, with that in mind, today's quote is from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.  I've quoted him in other recent blog posts, and he is an example of someone who sought interior silence in modern times.  His book, "Beginning to Pray" is a classic of modern spirituality that has been read by Christians of many traditions. Since it is Easter, today's quote is from one of his Easter sermons:

"Christ is life and the victory of life.  In the world in which he came, death was prevalent and seemed to be all-powerful over men; when he came, he defeated death by his Resurrection.  And nowadays we live in a world full of torment, of pain, of fear, of murder, of death, and we may say: but where is the victory? The victory is in each of us, the victory is in all those of us who believe that death cannot separate us from God, that death is no longer a victory of evil over us, but a triumph of us through our faith, because death is no longer separation.....  However frightening and dark the world is nowadays, we know that victory has already been won, that God has won and that we who believe in him partake together with him in his victory."

(From p. 186 of "Metropolitan Anthony: Essential Writings").

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