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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

On the Fool for Christ

One form of the ascetic Christian life is called foolishness for the sake of Christ. The fool-for-Christ set for himself the task of battling within himself the root of all sin, pride. In order to accomplish this he took on an unusual style of life, appearing as someone bereft of his mental faculties, thus bringing upon himself the ridicule of others. In addition he exposed the evil in the world through metaphorical and symbolic words and actions. He took this ascetic endeavor upon himself in order to humble himself and to also more effectively influence others, since most people respond to the usual ordinary sermon with indifference. The spiritual feat of foolishness for Christ was especially widespread in Russia. --(Excerpted from The Law of God, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: 1993

Some of my friends, both on-line and virtual, are sad that I left the monastery. I do not want anyone to be sad if I am following God's Will, which I am, by being out in the big, bad world. I know that some of my dear friends who have known me for years want me settled and I want this as well. But, one can only do what is in the plan of God and not pretend to be something other than what one is. One cannot play God.

Recently, I was reading the life of St. Benedict Labre. In the eyes of the world and indeed, even many in the Church, he was a Failure. I stand with the Failures of the world, and even the Church. Perhaps the small group of those saints called "fools" are where God has put me. I hope so...there is a long list of such people who did not fit in the world, nor did not want to fit in the world, and yet had no other place. This list includes saints who were women fools, as well as the better known men. Some of the well-known men are Basil of Moscow and Theodore of Novgorod. I cannot imagine wandering about Russia. Eire is cold enough. Now, I have not chosen a peripatetic lifestyle, but here I am. I can only trust in God, in Divine Providence, as I have no one else to trust and this is the Truth of our existence anyway.

Modern people, especially Americans and particularly the British, want to put people in boxes, usually by profession or by family. Now, to a point, there is nothing wrong with this. But, our real identification is neither in what we do or to whom we are related. Our identification is only is who we are, sons and daughters of God. We, the baptized, are heirs of heaven. We cannot forget that. We sin daily. We cannot forget that. We fail each other and ourselves. But, there is a God Who orders our ways, be as illogical as these may seem. The illogicality is suffering.

But, the point of this is that the world and myself need constant reminders of sinfulness and self-will.  Some of the fools were peasant stock and some were from the upper classes. Modern psychologists have tried to undermine the holiness of these people by pointing out the eccentricities. But, Christ Himself said,

"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath not where to lay his head". Matthew 8:20.

And from Tuesday's Mass:

Lesson from the first letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
1 Cor. 4:9-14
Brethren: We have been made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are without honor! To this very hour we hunger and thirst, and we are naked and buffeted, and have no fixed abode. And we toil, working with our own hands. We are reviled and we bless, we are persecuted and we bear with it, we are maligned and we entreat, we have become as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all, even until now! I write these things not to put you to shame, but to admonish you as my dearest children, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
R. Thanks be to God

Continuation  of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
Luke 12:32-34
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not grow old, a treasure unfailing in heaven, where neither thief draws near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.