June 25, 2023
As a boy I enjoyed tales of pirates. I always looked for the one pirate with only one good eye and a patch over the bad one. I am not sure what my attraction to this type of character represents, maybe an outward sign of a wound sustained in a great battle of victory, I guess you would need to see the other guy!
Many years ago, the Lord got my attention and slowly with a snail’s pace, I am battling the world’s attachment to me, or rather my attachment to the world. My eyes have been wounded by my choices that allow darkness into my soul. There is somewhat of a spiritual patch over my eye, slowly starving my nous. Saint Mark the Ascetic writes: “A man who is enticed by sinful thoughts is blinded by them, and he sees the action of sin in himself, but he cannot see the cause of this action.” (St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 1.168)
After all, I have all the time in the world to become a saint!! Or do I? Let’s ask the great saint Nectarios: “We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Do not despair if you keep falling into your old sins. Many of them are strong because they have received the force of habit. Only with the passage of time and with fervor will they be conquered. Don't let anything deprive you of hope.” (St. Nectarios of Aegina, Path to Happiness, 3)
As we live in this lush garden of weeds and concrete, it is so easy to not see the real fruit because we are distracted by the flowering blooms of the thistles. These flowering weeds spread so very easily and the weak nourish them as if they are a prize, worthy of a blue ribbon at the county fair. But their momentary beauty blinds us like a pied piper mesmerizes his subject. Our passions are rooted very deep as they continually find nurturing existence within the cortex of our being.
Perhaps I need two eye patches to best represent my blindness? There is a great battle waging daily within. How do we best claim this victory over the evil one? Hear these instructions from the saints: St. Issac the Syrian: “The passions are uprooted and turned to flight by constant occupation of the mind with God. This is a sword that puts them to death... Whoever always thinks about God drives the demons away from himself and pulls up the seeds of their malice.” (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homilies, 8) And “If a man does not argue with the thoughts that the enemy secretly sows in us, but by prayer to God uproots conversation with them, this is a sign that his mind has attained wisdom, and that he has found a short path.” (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homilies, 30)
Saint Silouan the Athonite instructs us: “It is impossible to keep spiritual peace if we do not take care of the mind, that is if we do not drive out thoughts that are displeasing to God and, on the contrary, keep thoughts which are pleasing to God. It is necessary to look into the heart with mind and see what is done there. Is it peaceful or not? If not, then find out in what you have sinned.” (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XIV.8) And here is our weaponry against this invader: “When bad thoughts are planted in you, then cry to God: "Lord, my Maker and Creator. You see that my soul is in agony from bad thoughts. Have mercy on me." Teach yourself to root out thoughts immediately. But when you forget and don't root them out immediately, then offer repentance. Work on this, so that you get a habit.” (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XVII.4,6)
How is the battle going within your theater? The Gospel writer Saint Matthew tells us today: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matt 6:22-24) Oh wounded ones, hear this prayer: “Grant me, O Lord, the remedy of conversion, that I might be healed of all the evil that is in me. Grant that I might enter the realm of restraint. Grant that I might spend all the days of my life in contrition of heart. Enlighten the clouded eyes of my mind, that I might rush zealously to embark on the path that leads to Thy vineyard” (St. Ephraim the Syrian).
Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-25-2023
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