Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

A young monk went to consult a certain spiritual elder.

“I fulfill all of my monastic duties,” he told him, “and then some; nevertheless, my soul finds no peace. I receive no consolation from God.”

“You live according to your own will – for this reason all of these things occur to you,” the elder explained to him.

“What must I do, then, Abba, to be at peace?”

“Go find an elder having the fear of God in his soul. Surrender yourself to him in all that he wishes and let him guide you, as he sees fit, to the path of God. Then your soul will find consolation.”

The youth listened to the elder’s advice and his soul found peace.


This young monk has discipline and determination, make no mistake about that. His commitment is deep. Would that more of us had such commitment, determination, and discipline to embrace the journey with Christ.
Thing is, though, he is doing it out of his will, and not out of grace. The elder he consults recommends that the younger monk set aside his own desires, his own will to obey a more experienced abba. This frees the young monk from doing it on his own, going ti alone.
Now, of course, one would want to be very careful to whom one relinquishes authority. There have been very dangerous results of that. Such as Jonestown. Such as people in Garland, TX who quit their jobs, sold their homes and stood on a hilltop awaiting the Rapture which didn’t come.
When someone enters monastic life in a community or an order, one relinquishes responsibility for one’s spiritual growth to the monastic superior.
Outside the vowed religious life, we can seek out a spiritual director and discuss and learn from this person.
We can read books by the great Christian writers and be taught that way. Liturgical forms of worship are designed to be a form of spiritual direction.
Kenneth Leech wrote a wonderful book called Soul Friend. I highly recommend it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s