Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Except Humility Alone

Dear Parish Faithful,

GREAT LENT - The Seventeenth Day

Amma Theodora said that neither asceticism, nor vigils, nor any kind of suffering are able to save. Only true humility can do that. There was a hermit who was able to banish the demons. And he asked them: "What makes you go away? Is if fasting?" They replied: "We do not eat or drink." "Is it vigils?" They said: "We do not sleep." "Then what power sends you away?" They replied: "Nothing can overcome us except humility alone." Amma Theodora said: "Do you see how humility is victorious over the demons?"

Abba Or gave this advice: "Whenever you want to subdue your high and proud thoughts, examine your conscience carefully: Have you loved your enemies and been kind to them in their misfortunes?"

The Fathers and Mothers of the desert - and beyond - teach us the "power" of humility. It is basically in imitation of the Son of God who became flesh and died on the Cross for the sins of humankind. Humility driven by love brought the Lord to the Cross. There was and is no other way. But overcoming pride is a battle hard to begin, sustain, and complete. We therefore accept the fact that we are in for the "long haul" with the goal of attaining to blessed humility to a degree that is effective and expressive of our love for Christ, the humble Son of God become Son of Man, who invited us to learn from Him:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Amma Theodora must be right. Challenging as they may be, fasting and vigil are "easy" in comparison to humility.

As Fr. Deacon John Chryssavgis writes: "The humble person is always satisfied, always shares, always gives, always gives thanks." That sounds like the description of a true human being!

Fr. Steven

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