An old man was asked, ‘How can I find God?’ He said, ‘In fasting, in watching, in labours, in devotion, and above all, in discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing. Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we can recite all the psalms of David, but we have not that which God seeks: charity and humility.’
As to your Lent—no physical hardships beyond what normal life provides—but take each of these as serenely and gratefully as you can and make them your humble offerings to God. Don’t reduce sleep. Don’t get up in the cold. Practice more diligently the art of turning to God with some glance or phrase of love or trust at all spare moments of the day….Be especially kind and patient with those who irritate you….Instead of wasting energy in being disgusted with yourself, accept your own failures and just say to God ‘Well, in spite of all I may say or fancy, this is what I am really like—so please help my weakness.’ This, not self-disgust, is the real and fruitful humility.
The light of dawn comes before the sun, and meekness is the precursor of all humility. So let us listen to the order in which Christ, our Light, places these virtues. He says, ‘Learn from me because I am meek and humble of heart.’ Therefore, before gazing at the sun of humility we must let the light of meekness flow over us. If we do, we will then be able to look steadily at the sun. The true order of these virtues teaches us that we are totally unable to turn our eyes to the sun before we have first become accustomed to the light.
Meekness is a mind consistent amid honour and dishonour. Meekness prays quietly and sincerely for a neighbour, however troublesome he may be. Meekness is a rock looking out over the sea of anger which breaks the waves which come crashing on it and stays entirely unmoved. Meekness is the bulwark of patience, the door, indeed the mother of love, and the foundation of discernment. For it is said, ‘The Lord will teach his ways to the meek.’ And it is meekness that earns pardon for our sins, gives confidence to our prayers and makes a place for the Holy Spirit. As it stands in the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘To whom shall I look if not to the meek and the peaceful?’
— From The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus (525-606)
I pray that … you may know what is… the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.
Augustine once wrote that: The best guarantee against the abuse of power is not only to make sure that those who wield it are honest and upright, but that they are in the habit of wielding it.
Which is to say that power takes practice. If we wish to use power rightly, not only are we to be honest and upright, but we are to practice using it. And we have been given power. As we hear in Ephesians:
I pray that… you may know… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.
This morning’s sermon is about this power that we have been given, a power that we are called to practice. Continue reading →