Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian Abba Moses the Black 7

“It is impossible for a monk to have Christ continuously in his heart without silence, humility, and unceasing prayer,” the same elder used to say.”

The same elder referred to here is Abba Moses the Black whom we talked about yesterday.

For whatever my opinion may be worth, I’d say that anyone who truly desires to have a spiritual life, as we call it today, without silence, humility, and unceasing prayer. If we truly want to experience God, we have to make room for silence, humility, and prayer.

Silence can be a challenge in our modern days.  I live in a city and it just never stops.  My apartment is fifty feet from the southbound lane of a busy freeway and there is constant traffic. That traffic has interrupted contemplation and prayer many times so I play classical music from the moment I arise to the time I go to sleep.  It is just there in the background.  It is a sort of silence.

Most of all, the silence I need to seek is the silence from all the things that distract me from prayer. A long time ago, a priest told me to keep a notebook and a pen handy.  When a distracting thought enters my mind, I was to jot it down and knowing it was on the list to be dealt with later, I could go back to contemplation.

Humility is trickier because who is less humble than the person who keeps talking about how humble she or he might be?  I think of Uriah Heep in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Over the years I have found C S Lewis’ admonition about humility to be the best. “Don’t pretend to be better than you are and don’t pretend to be less than you are.” Or words to that effect. It sounds simple but I find it to be actually a lot of very hard work.

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