Collect of the Day
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture Reading of the Day, Luke 7:36-50
6 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "speak." 41 "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." 48 Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
(From "Freedom of Simplicity" by Richard J. Foster)
For the Desert Fathers, the flight to the desert was a way of escaping conformity to the world. the world, including the Church, had become so dominated by secular materialism, that for them, the only way to witness against it was to withdraw from it. Thomas Merton writes in the introduction in his "Wisdom of the Desert": "Society....was regarded by the Desert Fathers as a shipwreck from which each single individual man had to swim for his life."
They were seeking to revive true Christian devotion and simplicity of life by intense renunciation. Their experience has particular relevance, because modern society is uncomfortably like the world that they attacked so vigorously. Their world asked, "How can I get more?" The Desert Fathers asked, What can I do without?" their world asked, "How can I find myself?" The Desert Fathers asked, "How can I lose myself?" Their world asked, "How can I win friends and influence people?" The Desert Fathers asked, "How can I love God?"
Anthony, the "father of monks" (A.D. 251-356), was about eighteen years old when he heard the Gospel words, "Go, sell what you posses and give to the poor...and come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21). going out from the church, he immediately gave away his inherited land, sold all of his possessions, and distributed the proceeds among the poor, saving only enough to care for his sister. After living at the edge of his village for a time, he retreated into the desert, where for twenty years he lived in complete solitude. In the solitude he was forced to face his false, empty self. He learned to die to the opinions of others. He came out of bondage to human beings. Violent and many were the temptations he faced.
when he emerged from the solitude of the desert, he was marked with graciousness, love, kindness,endurance, meekness, freedom from anger, and the practice of prayer. People recognized in him a unique compassion and power. Many sought him out for spiritual counsel and healing power. Even the Emperor Constantine sought his advice...
Mthr. Mary Lou