Thursday, August 06, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Intercession 2


Palladius said, "One day when I was suffering from boredom I went to Abba Macarius and said, "What shall I do? My thoughts afflict me, saying, you are not making any progress, go away from here." He said to me, "Tell them, for Christ's sake, I am guarding the walls."
Some thoughts

My first reaction is always "Is this the Palladius who founded cenobitic monasticism and mixed communities?" My guess is that it is, but I also think my first reaction is a distraction from the meat of this Saying.

I can relate to Palladius. Can you? I often think that if this or that, such or so were different, better, newer etc, my prayer would be better. New breviary or prayerbook just published? Certainly that would have to help.

Macarius knows better, though. He knows about stability of the heart. He knows about building a hermitage in his heart. He knows that even when Palladius is bored or feeling like he is not making any progress, that there is much more to it than Palladius' feelings. That Palladius' feelings may not be his best guide.

Macarius compares stability of heart with guarding the walls. What are walls guarded from? Enemies? Wild animals? Plague bearers? If Palladius did go away, then there would be a breach in the walls so that enemies, wild aninmals and plague bearers would enter. OTOH, remaining at one's post, guarding the walls, may seem static and yet it serves a vital purpose. That purpose would nto be served by moving from place to place, from prayerbook to prayerbook, from breviary to breviary, from this to that form such to so.

And who knows, maybe it is because Macarius said this to Palladius that we are today blessed with cenobitic monasticism. Certainly St Benedict absorbed the lesson as we can see from Ch 1 of the Rule of St Benedict, Types of Monks. His words about gyrovagues seem apt to me.


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