Friday, November 02, 2007

Faith and Hard Work

Fr. Thomas Loya has a radio show entitled "Light of the East" which addresses issues surrounding the Eastern rite of the Catholic Church (I listen via podcast) [ ]. These broadcasts also feature a regular segment entitled "Words of Wisdom, Faith, and Mystery from the Monk's Cell". The following is my written transcript from broadcast 152, dated 8/26/07 (I also took the editorial liberty of adding relevant Scripture citations to many of Father Maximus' points--these appear in brackets [ ]):

Matins this morning was hard work. It was hot last night, humid. So much for the dry heat in the desert. I did not sleep well. Four a.m. came very early. 'Oh God,' I said, does it have to be so hot?

Well, the Fathers have something to say about this. "Perseverance" they called that virtue. Work, putting in effort. This is how we invest ourselves in what is important. It is not about earning [Eph 2:8], it is about valuing what we receive. It is not about earning, it is about owning [1 Tim 6:12]. By work, taking risks, risking perhaps that what we are doing will not bear fruit [Mt 25:24-25], at least not immediately [Mk 4:26-29]. By putting in effort we come to value what God has given us. One of the fathers of the desert described the monks' life as nothing but toil. But the same can be said for any life in this world--husband, wife, parent, employee, anyone who labors to build up the Kingdom--it's all toil [Mt 11:28-30; Eph 5:22-27; etc.]. St. Isaac the Syrian said 'toil for God's sake and sweat in his husbandry precede hope in him.' It is not enough to believe in God [James 2:19; 1 Cor 13:2; Mt 7:21]. Faith has need of labors also [James 2:14-26; Gal 5:6]. And confidence in God is the good witness of the conscience born of undergoing hardships for the virtues.
-Fr. Maximus
Holy Resurrection Monastery - Newbury, California

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