Fr. Barnabas Powell
Listen to St. Mark, the Ascetic: “If you wish to remember God unceasingly, do not reject as undeserved what happens to you, but patiently accept it as your due. For patient acceptance of whatever happens kindles the remembrance of God, whereas refusal to accept weakens the spiritual purpose of the heart and so makes it forgetful.”
A powerful tool of the evil one to throw you from the Ladder of Di…vine Ascent is to convince you that you “deserve” to have “more”, “better”, and that you’ve been “cheated.” It was his trick in the Garden and it is still his favorite way to impugn the character of the Father today. The evil one wants you to believe you’ve been wronged or cheated or mistreated because if he can stir up your ego, then he can intoxicate you with indignation, fear, hatred, and self righteousness.
But if you see all that comes to you throughout the day as coming as gifts to you for your salvation, then all his crafty attempts to get you focused
only on yourself will die!
It is the second lesson of St. Mary of Egypt.
2) The power of proper priorities. St. Mary not only saw the seriousness of sin, but understood, by divine grace, that God wasn’t angry with her. He was calling her to re-examine her priorities and her life path. The path she was on invariably led to death, not just physical death (that comes to us all) but to an eternal death. This led her to a radical re-prioritization of her life that called her to spend the rest of her life in the desert, learning how to repent.
To be awake today to eternal priorities is to stay aware of the many times that will come today specifically designed to focus you on irrelevant and temporary things. Your struggle (let’s admit right now that it is a constant struggle) to overcome the temptations of the temporary, is THE struggle for your soul. The times when you are tempted to anger, to resentment, to hurt feelings, are all attempts of the evil one to blind you to the eternal. And in that blindness comes the spiritual prison for your soul.
But let’s admit now, this prison is self-imposed. As C.S. Lewis said “Hell is locked from the inside. Leave when you want.”
Today, pray for awareness of the many times, both big and small, that you will be tempted to focus merely on yourself. Pray “teach me to treat all that comes to me today with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.” In so doing, you will make impotent every tool of the evil one to make you a slave to your own pride. If all things that come to you today are given to you for your salvation, then rejoice that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” and be at peace. You were created for freedom, and it is for freedom’s sake that Christ has made you free!Today, live in the freedom won for you by Divine Love, and rejoice!