Monday, August 31, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Abba Gerontius of Petra


Abba Gerontius of Petra said that many, tempted by the pleasures of the body, commit fornication, not in their body but in their spirit, and while preserving their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in their soul. 'Thus it is good, my well-beloved, to do that which is written and for each one to guard his own heart with all possible care.' (Prov. 4.23)

Some thoughts:

It doesn't seem right to me to fail to mention that Petra is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Not very germane to the reading, of course, but I love history.

Something I was taught in seminary is that to the ancient mind there was little distinction between thinking a thought and doing the actual deed. So to be tempted was the same as committing whatever one was tempted to. Abba Gerontius tells us the way to avoid temptation in the 1st place is to guard one's heart.

How do we do that? I often comment that we are bombarded with ads, commercials, billboards, etc all telling us that we are less than because we don't own whatever the bombardment is trying to sell us. One of the repercussions of living in the Information Age. TMI or Too Much Information.

In lieu of actually plucking out our offending eyes or cutting of our hands, people living under religious vows developed what they called "custody of the senses". It's not a term I've seen discussed in many years now so I guess it is considered old-fashioned. Maybe it went the way of mandatory religious habits as in the Roman Catholic Church.

Custody of the senses was a way of living among people but minding one's own business. When walking down a corridor, for instance, and passing the open door to a room, one did not sneak a peek into the room to see what was going on there. Custody of the senses meant protecting the senses from that which would disturb one's thoughts and heart.

That is one way of guarding our hearts. What are some other ways we could do that?


Post a Comment

<< Home