Handing over your soul

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Abbas Roufos:

‘Someone who hands over his soul in obedience to a spiritual guide has a greater reward that one who retires alone to a hermitage.’ He also said this: ‘One of the fathers saw a vision of four ranks in heaven. The first rank was of those who are sick, yet give thanks to God. The second rank was of those who minister to the sick willingly and generously. The third rank was of those who live in the desert, seeing no one. The fourth rank was of those who for God’s sake put themselves under obedience to spiritual guides. But those who live in obedience in the fourth rank wore necklaces and crowns of gold and shone more than the others. I said to the one who showed me the vision, ‘How is it that the rank which is lowest shines the most?’ He replied, ‘Those who care for others do what they themselves want to do. Hermits follow their own will in withdrawing from the world. But the obedient have gone beyond their self-will, and hang on to God and the word of their spiritual guides: that is why they shine the most.’ Learn by this how great a good is obedience if it is for God’s sake and strive to win some trace at least of this virtue. It is the salvation of the faithful, the mother of all virtue, the entry into the kingdom; it raises us from earth to heaven; obedience lives in the same place as the angels; it is the food of the saints who by its nourishment grow to fullness of life.’

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

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Self Examination at the Heart of Lent

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Reflections on the sin of pride by St John Cassian

 

By the following indications, then, that carnal pride of which we have spoken is made manifest.

First of all, a person’s talking will be loud and his silence bitter;

his joy will be marked by noisy and excessive laughter, his seriousness by irrational sadness;

his replies by rancor, his speech by glibness,

and his words will burst out helter- skelter for a heed-less heart.

He will be devoid of patience, without love,

quick to inflict abuse, slow to accept it,

reluctant to obey except when his desire and will anticipate the matter,

implacable in receiving exhortations, weak in restraining his own will,

very unyielding when submitting to others,

 constantly fighting on behalf of his own opinions

but never acquiescing or giving in to those of others.

And so, having become unreceptive to salutary advice,

he relies on his own judgement in every respect

rather than on that of the elders.” (The Institutes, pp. 271-272)