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MONASTICISM



 

 

 

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 promised land. 

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 spiritually.

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 your friends.

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



 

(11-25-02)

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