In one of the meetings of the East Coast Churches Assembly, I heard a story from one of the metropolitans(4) from Coptic reclusive literature which really moved me and still occupies my thoughts:
A youth joined a monastery and the Abbot of the monastery handed him over to a pious and sober solitary so that he would be his disciple. The solitary started to care for the youth in regards of his spiritual life, directing his thoughts to the adherence to God as a Savior and Friend who kindles the heart with love.
It seems that the youth was lazy to a great extent and the solitary kept encouraging him to enter into the spiritual strife, pushing him in the way of deep love and not simple dependence on formalities and exercises without spirit.
Suddenly the youth died and the solitary was very sad over him because he knew his laziness in his strife. As he was crying and wailing over him one day, he saw him in a dream. He was standing with the hellfire reaching his feet.
As the solitary saw this vision, he cried sorrowfully for his son. As for the son, he looked at the solitary and said, “Don’t cry for me, for a metropolitan is standing on my shoulder.”
The solitary woke up shaken from the vision and sat alone for days, contemplating on the depth and meaning of the vision. He asked himself, “If this was the case of a careless metropolitan, what then will be my condition? The clothing of monasticism doesn’t intercede for the lazy ones.”
Maybe this was a symbolic story narrated by the Coptic reclusive literature to urge believers to concentrate on the inner depth and vigor of the soul and to stop practicing spiritual exercises without spirit.
THE WORDS OF A YOUTH
I claim You as my Savior
I read the Bible regularly,
But in stupidity I can’t see You behind the letters.
I pray each morning and each night,
But I don’t know how to talk with You on a personal level.
I practice a lot of worship but my depth is like a stone.
Teach me how to enter into the depth
To meet You through Your written word.
And interact with You in my prayers,
To see Your Cross shining upon me in my repentance
To enjoy becoming firm in You as I partake in communion.
I enter as if into heaven when I am in Your church.
Let Your right hand catch my soul,
And take it into Your happy chamber,
To rejoice with You O the desire of my heart.
To be filled with the hope that death cannot destroy,
And to comfort in Your Kingdom that the doors of Hades cannot overcome.
Yes, I do not rely on self-righteousness or on a position in the Church,
But on the abundance of Your grace.
A Kid with A Strong Personality
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