OUR EXILE ON EARTH
A life of spiritual exile consists in an
irrevocable renunciation of everything in one's familiar surroundings
that hinder one from attaining the ideal of holiness.
A spiritual exile is a disciplined heart,
unheralded wisdom, an unpublicized understanding, a hidden life, masked
ideals. It is an unseen meditation, the striving to be humble, a wish for
poverty, the longing for what is divine. It is an outpouring of love, a
denial of vainglory, a depth of silence.
But like everything in the spiritual life,
it should not be taken into extremes.
Exile is a separation from everything in
order that one may hold on totally to God. It is a chosen route of great
grief. An exile is a fugitive, running from all relationships with his own
relatives. When you press forward to solitude and exile, have nothing to do
with souls enamored with the world.
While you have the fire for holiness, RUN,
for this fire is easily doused, leaving you in darkness.
Not all of us are summoned to rescue
others: "You are to give an account of yourself." "You teach
others but not yourself," as if saying "I do not know about
others, but you are to give an account of yourselves."
When you go into exile, watch out for the
demon of wandering and of pleasure.
Detachment has exile for its mother. If you
have left the world, then don't reach out for it, otherwise all your
passions will come back. Eve, at least, did not want to leave paradise; a
monk will willingly leave the monastery.
The devil will always suggest that there is
no real need to leave the world. That to look at a woman and overcome our
lust is a greater victory. And so we leave our relations for a while then we
slowly think of being in their company again. . .under the pretence of being
an example to them. The Israelites that yearned for Egypt never reached the
Moses saw the face of God and yet had
troubles saving the Israelites. And you think you can do better?
Offend your parents rather than God. God,
after all, created and saved us. Parents, at times, kill their children
When we enter the monastery, we should not
abhor our relatives and must be careful to do them no harm. Christ seemingly
rebuffed His mother but in fact showed detachment without harsh feelings.
The Christian model is a family in exile
where the father is able to labor with all, carrying the burden of
everyone's sins, and the mother washing away everybody's filth with her
compunction. Where you brother is your rival in the race for holiness and
the longed-for offspring, the moaning of your heart.
May your body be your slave and the angels
He who says he can love God and his parents
is deceiving himself. For parents will always rise up against sons and
daughter s who choose to serve God. They will surround you with tales
of woes and lamentations and false promises to dissuade you from your goal.
St. John Climacus