This is Canon Victoria’s letter in our weekly Parish News email. To sign up for our newsletter, please visit: Constant Contact. To see the full weekly Parish News email from Mar 17th, please visit: http://conta.cc/2mEb1Hl
Ellen Bachelor’s Lent Madness with its intentional archness of matching off saints to “compete for the Golden Halo” made me go and re-read about some of the saints in this year’s “competition”. I went back and read some excerpts from St. Isaac of Syria, who was bishop of Nineveh briefly in 660 and, apparently, a sailor in his youth. I was struck by the following on the fact of how to deal with suffering. It would be ill-received by today by preachers espousing a prosperity gospel.
By Way of the Cross
The blessed Apostle openly calls it a gift for someone to be ready in faith for suffering for the sake of his hope in God. Thus he says, “to you it has been granted by God not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for his sake. ” (Philippians 1:9) As St. Peter wrote in his letter, “When you suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are you, for you will become sharers in the sufferings of Christ”. (1 Peter 3:14, 4:13)
Therefore when you are at ease and enjoyment do not rejoice; and when tribulations come upon you, do not be sullen or consider this as something alien to the way of God. For this path of God has been trodden from all ages and through all generations by means of the cross and death.
Where did you get the idea that afflictions on the path do not belong to the path? Do you not wish to follow in the footsteps of the saints? Do you want to travel by some special path of your own, one that does not involve suffering?
The path to God is a daily cross. No one has ascended to heaven by way of ease. We know where the easy way leads!
(From Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria, edited by A. M. Allchin, Templegate publishers.)
And speaking of saints, who among us can even imagine being the parents of twin offspring Benedict of Nursia and his devoted sister Scholastica? What questions they must have asked as toddlers! Who is God? Where was God before creation? Where does God live now? Why does God love us? How can we get closer to God? Imagine. I could barely handle these: Where does thunder come from? Would you rather be a boy or a girl? How does God answer our prayers? Such precocious questions must have made for powerful bedtime conversations.
So I thank God for the patient, nurturing parents of Benedict and Scholastica, who grew to contribute their myriad spiritual gifts to centuries of communal, contemplative monastics and to those of us worldly ones who occasionally gravitate toward their rules and examples.
Commenting has been turned off.