9 April 2015 • No. 17
¶ Invocation. “ Love is / The funeral pyre / Where I have laid my living body. / All the false notions of myself / That once caused fear, pain, / Have turned to ash / As I neared God.” —Hãfez, 14th century Persian poet whose work is regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature
¶ A novice once came to Abba Macarius in the monastery at Scete, eager to excel quickly in his quest for holiness. “I’ve got three days to spend here,” he said. “I want to learn how to be a Desert Father just like you.” The abbot’s amused response was to send him to a nearby cemetery, instructing him to make all manner of accusations against those buried there. Though confused by the instruction, the novice complied.
The next day the abbot issued an even more unusual assignment to the novice. This time, he instructed the novice, go to the cemetery and utter the most profound praises to those buried in these same graves. The novice dutifully complied. But at the end of the day he reported back that not a single one among the dead had replied either to curses or praises.
Macarius responded, saying that they must be holy people indeed. “You insulted them and they did not answer; you applauded them and they said nothing. Go and do likewise.” —cited in Belden Lane’s “Backpacking with the Saints” Read more ›