Christ is in our midst!
Some of you may be wondering why I go to the monastery so often. I go about three times a year. The reasons I go are many. One reason is to confess my sins with my spiritual father. Another is to get away from the noise and distraction of the world for a while. But probably the two most important reasons are so that I can be fed spiritually and so that I can pray.
If you have ever been encouraged or inspired by anything I have written or said, chances are it was something shared with me first by my spiritual father or by the brothers at the hermitage. (The monastery I visit is a hermitage, so there are only three monks living in the wilderness who have a rule: they only accept one visitor per month). When I go to the monastery I get fed spiritual food, I get challenged and corrected, and I get healed. So often when I drive up to the monastery (which is near Hundred Mile House), my mind is a jumble of confused and contradictory thoughts. When I drive home, I am usually at peace, singing or humming the hymns of Vespers or Matins as they are sung there.
My spiritual father, Father Gregory, does not bear fools lightly—at least not this fool. So when I tell him my confused thoughts, he cuts right through the muck and gets to the real germ of the matter, if there is one. So often what I worry myself about is really nothing, just a fear or worry generated by my imagination. I need someone who loves me enough to tell me the truth. Probably we all need someone like that in our lives.
The second reason I go to the monastery is to pray. Certainly I pray at home too. However, at the monastery I can get up with the monks at 2:00 am and pray in absolute quiet—and if I need to spend a few hours sleeping during the day to catch up, I have no other responsibilities. At the monastery, I can pray matins and vespers without being responsible for the services. I just show up and let the words of the services wash over me. I don’t have to pay attention to anything but my heart and what the Holy Spirit or the angels or the saints may be whispering there. I have noticed that the prayerful openness of heart to the whispers of heaven that I find while I’m praying at the monastery stays with me for a few weeks after each visit. Gradually, though, the worries and responsibilities of life and the burdensomeness (i.e. grumpiness) of being an old man creep back in, and I start to lose sight of the way to my heart. That’s why I need to go away to pray, so that I can come back and pray.
I want to end this weekly update with a big THANK YOU to all of you for your faithfulness to Christ and to His Church. You are the Church, and Holy Nativity wouldn’t exist without your continued support in the form of time, prayers and offerings.