Prayer of the Lonely

Please Lord, don’t hide yourself from me. For the beauty of this world, which I take pleasure in, loses all meaning apart from You.

Some appear to find contentment in this world, looking no further than their senses; they find thoughts of You unnecessary.

But I cannot live that way. There is no beauty apart from You; and that which I find beautiful becomes distraction, and painful, without You.

I am amazed that others appear to not need You; so I have forced myself into their shoes. I’ve searched out the secrets of their autonomy, but have found nothing.

Still, I doubt myself; is it rather pathology, and not sympathy, that leads me to You, dear Lord? Yes, I am ill and I am weak without You.

Come, Lord please, fill my heart and dwell within me. Let me not look upon any pleasant thing in this life, if You will not reveal Yourself therein.

When others stand afar off, doubting and bemused, I’ve both attempted to convince them to believe, and have hidden my belief; because sometimes it is lonely searching for You in this world.

When I’ve found You, hidden in my heart, so that the world unfolds miraculously before me, then I have prayed that others also would believe and find You; because it is lonely in this world without You.

Lord, what is this life without You? It seems to me a sad travesty and a pale parody. Please reveal Yourself to us, let us see and know Your love and beauty. Enliven these dead bones with Your Spirit; breathe Life into this life, that we all may Live.

~FS

July 1

Spiritual knowledge can be acquired by the illiterate, who are often more adept at attaining it than those who, seduced by their intellectual capabilities, become mired in the realm of pseudo-knowledge; spiritual knowledge reveals itself to all who, with the fear of God and by the practicing of the commandments in a life of asceticism, have attained purity, simplicity, and humility of heart. Moreover, there is a very close link between true knowledge/contemplation and humility, whereas on the contrary, pseudo-knowledge seems to be linked to pride, whence it proceeds and which it increases.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.205)

June 30

St John Cassian explains: “All other vices dwindle as we overcome them, and day by day become weaker in defeat…But [vainglory] rises again from defeat more eager for the fight, and when you think it is extinct, it recovers from its death all the more lively. Other types of vice normally only attack those whom they might defeat, whereas this one presses hardest on its conquerors. The more successfully we elude it, the harder it assaults us through our very joy in victory.”

Thus, vainglory “is far more dangerously deceptive to the unwary warrior.” Whoever undertakes the therapy of vainglory, then, will have to employ great spiritual discernment and constant watchfulness from start to finish.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.117)

June 29

One of the characteristic effects of godly sadness is its consoling gentleness, which paradoxically removes from mourning and affliction their painful character and appears as a clear sign of divine assistance and the presence of grace within the soul.

Thus St John Chrysostom observes: “The fruit [of] groans is great, and great is their persuasive and consoling gentleness…Indeed, constant groaning produces consolation.” And St John Climacus writes: “The abyss of mourning has seen comfort…Divine succour is the renewal of a soul depressed by grief which, in a wonderful way, transforms painful tears into painless ones.”

This naturally accords with the teaching of Christ: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”…

~Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.66)

June 28

“Nothing awakens us to the spiritual and causes us to live on that level as does mourning.” [St. Isaac the Syrian]  In other words, this virtue delivers the soul from the insensitivity, dryness, and hardness that sin had caused it to contract. It helps man to be constantly vigilant, and while always needing to be accompanied by prayer, it promotes prayer and contributes to making such intercession fertile.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.65)

Metanoia

What is despair,

but a sorrow without tears—

hope suspended,

a crying out, absent remorse.

 

Despair holds onto its pride,

and together we suffer.

 

Without repentance,

without humbling,

without accepting,

we live without healing.

 

I have seen the world’s evils,

magnitudes of anguish,

beyond my understanding,

and I’ve despaired.

 

What can I do?

I cannot change another,

I cannot topple governments,

or rescue nations.

 

I try to close my eyes and look away,

I’ve buried myself in television,

in pleasures to help me forget—

can I just pretend this life is pleasant?

 

After all, the sun is shining,

the rain falls on the good and the bad.

God’s mercies benefit us all,

and it is a beautiful day.

 

Yet, it was a glorious day in 1942,

clear blue skies with puffs of clouds,

as the crematoriums belched—

humans turned to ash.

 

And it is glorious still today,

with a light breeze,

the sounds of birds,

chirping in the trees.

 

Meanwhile in China—

living men and women,

their organs are harvested,

from their bodies, for profit.

 

We are free to do as we please,

this is God’s love for us I’m told,

we may exploit, dismember and torture—

we may despair, pretend or forgive.

 

On this beautiful day,

I don’t choose to despair,

I don’t choose to pretend,

I yearn for everyone to be healed.

 

What can I do for those who refuse to repent?

I feel I must repent in their place—

I must cry the tears they will not shed,

and beg forgiveness in their stead.

 

Let’s not despair,

nor seek to avoid,

though we might fight,

the evils of man towards man.

 

No, we must face these,

and when we do,

what choice have we but to embrace them,

with forgiving hearts—

 

Trembling and broken in our love,

taking these evils upon ourselves,

offering them to God,

offering ourselves to Him—

 

To be transformed, and made anew.

 

~FS

June 26

“Have you sinned? Be in mourning, and you will cause sin to disappear,” for “penthos erases sin.” “Sadness about sin purifies sin.” “If one is saddened after sinning, the sin disappears [and] the wrong is righted.” [St John Chrysostom]…this is the main and true end goal of sadness, and for this reason has God given it to man: “Its power is only for the destruction of sin by erasing it; God created it for no other reason.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.63)