Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012 Litany Lane Blog : recluse, Mt 11:28-30, St Arsenius the Great, Apophthegmata Patrum

Thursday, July 19, 2012
recluse, Mt 11:28-30, St Arsenius the  Great, Apophthegmata Patrum

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  recluse  re·cluse [n. rek-loos, ri-kloos; adj. ri-kloos, rek-loos]

Origin:  1175–1225; Middle English  < Old French reclus  < Late Latin reclūsus,  past participle of reclūdere  to shut up, equivalent to re- re-  + -clūd-,  combining form of claudere  to close  + -tus  past participle suffix, with dt  > s

1. a person who lives in seclusion or apart from society, often for religious meditation.
2. a religious voluntary immured in a cave, hut, or the like, or one remaining within a cell for life.
3.shut off or apart from the world; living in seclusion, often for religious reasons.
4.characterized by seclusion; solitary.

Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 11: 28-30

Jesus carrying the cross
 ~ Matthew 11,28-30

 Jesus said: 'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.'

~ Reflection
• The Gospel today is composed only by three verses (Mt 11, 28-30) which form part of a brief literary unity, one of the most beautiful ones, in which Jesus thanks the Father for having revealed the wisdom of the Kingdom to the little children and because he has hidden it to the doctors and the wise (Mt 11, 25-30).  In the brief commentary which follows we will include all the literary unity.

• Matthew 11, 25-26: Only the little children accept and understand the Good News of the Kingdom. Jesus recites a prayer: “I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children”. The wise, the doctors of that time, have created a system of laws which they imposed on the people in the name of God (Mt 23, 3-4). They thought that God demanded this observance from the people.  But the law of love, which Jesus has revealed to us, said the contrary.  What is important to be saved, is not what we do for God, but what God, in his great love, does for us! God wants mercy and not sacrifice (Mt 9, 13). The simple and poor people understood this way of speaking of Jesus and rejoiced.  The wise said that Jesus was in error.  They could not succeed to understand his teaching.  “Yes, Father for that is what it pleased you to do! It pleased the Father that the little children understand the message of the Kingdom and that the wise and the learned do not understand it! If they want to understand it they have to become the pupils of the little children!  This way of thinking and of teaching makes people feel uncomfortable and change their community life together.

• Matthew 11, 27: The origin of the new Law: the Son knows the Father. What the Father has to tell us he has given to Jesus, and Jesus reveals it to the little children, so that they may be open to his message. Jesus, the Son, knows the Father.  He knows what the Father wanted to communicate to us, when many centuries ago he gave his Law to Moses. Today also, Jesus is teaching many things to the poor and to the little children and, through them, to all his Church.    

• Matthew 11, 28-30: The invitation of Jesus which is still valid today.  Jesus invites all those who are tired to go to him, and he promises them rest.  In our communities today, we should be the continuation of this invitation which Jesus addresses to people who were tired and oppressed by the weight of the observance asked by the laws of purity.  He says: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”. Many times, this phrase has been manipulated, to ask people for submission, meekness and passivity. Jesus wants to say the contrary. He asks people not to listen to “the wise and learned”, the professors of religion of that time and to begin to learn from him, from Jesus, a man who came from Galilee, without higher instruction, who says he is “meek and humble of heart”. Jesus does not do like the Scribes who exalt themselves because of their science, but he placed himself at the side of the people who are exploited and humiliated. Jesus, the new Master, knows by experience what takes place in the heart of the people who suffer.  He has lived this well and has known it during the thirty years of his life in Nazareth.

How Jesus puts into practice what he taught in the Discourse of the Mission. Jesus has a passion: to announce the Good News of the Kingdom. He had a Passion for the Father and for the people of his country who are poor and abandoned.  There where Jesus found people who listened to him, Jesus transmitted the Good News, in any place: In the Synagogues during the celebration of the Word (Mt 4, 23), in the houses of the friends (Mt 13, 36); walking along the way with the disciples (Mt 12, 1-8); along the shore of the sea, sitting in the boat (Mt 13, 3); on the Mountain from where he proclaims the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1); in the  squares and in the cities, where people would bring the sick to him (Mt 14, 34-36). Also in the Temple of Jerusalem, during the pilgrimage (Mt 26, 55)!  In Jesus everything is revelation of everything which he bore inside himself! He not only announced the Good News of the Kingdom, He himself was and continues to be a living sign of the Kingdom. In him we see clearly what happens when a human being allows God to reign in his life. Today’s Gospel reveals the tenderness with which Jesus welcomes the little children. He wanted them to find rest and peace. And because of this choice of his for the little children and the excluded, he was criticized and persecuted. He suffered very much! The same thing happens today. When a community tries to open itself to be a place of welcome and consolation for the little children and the excluded of today who are the foreigners and the migrants, many persons do not agree and criticize.

~ Personal questions
• Have you experienced some time the rest promised by Jesus?
• How can the words of Jesus help our community to be a place of rest for our life?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Arsenius the Great

Feast Day: July 19
Died: 450, Eqypt
Patron Saint of : Desert Fathers

St Arsenius, Educator of Kings
Saint Arsenius the Deacon, sometimes known as Arsenius of Scetis and Turah, Arsenius the Roman or Arsenius the Great, was a Roman imperial tutor who became an anchorite in Egypt, one of the most highly regarded of the Desert Fathers, whose teachings were greatly influential on the development of asceticism and the contemplative life as a confessor and hermit on the Nile. Arsenius, who was born in Rome in 354, was the tutor of the children of Emperors Theodosius I the Great, Arcadius, and Honorius. At that time, Arsenius was a Roman deacon recommended for the office by Pope St. Damasus. lie served at Theodosius' court in Constantinople for about ten years and then became a monk in Alexandria, Egypt. Inheriting a fortune from a relative, Arsenius studied with St. John the Dwarf and became a hermit in the desert of Egypt. In 434, he left Skete and went to the rock of Troe, near Memphis, Egypt, and to the island of Canopus near Alexandria. He died at Troe. Arsenius is sometimes called "the Roman" or "the Deacon."

His contemporaries so admired him as to surname him "the Great". His feast day is celebrated on May 8 in the Eastern Orthodox church, on 13 Pashons in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and on July 19 in the Roman Catholic Church.


He was born in 350 A.D. in Rome to a Christian, Roman senatorial family. After his parents died, his sister Afrositty was admitted to a community of virgins, and he gave all their riches to the poor, and lived an ascetic life. Arsenius became famous for his righteousness and wisdom.

There is considerable debate regarding the accuracy of several points in Arsenius's life. Arsenius is said to have been made a deacon by Pope Damasus I who recommended him to Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I the Great, who had requested the Emperor Gratian and Pope Damasus around 383 to find him in the West a tutor for his sons (future emperors Arcadius and Honorius). Arsenius was chosen on the basis of being a man well read in Greek literature. He reached Constantinople in 383, and continued as tutor in the imperial family for eleven years, during the last three of which he also had charge of his original pupil Arcadius's brother, Honorius. Coming one day to see his sons at their studies, Theodosius found them sitting while Arsenius talked to them standing. This he would not tolerate, and caused the teacher to sit and the pupils to stand. On his arrival at court Arsenius had been given a splendid establishment, and probably because the Emperor so desired, he lived in great pomp, but all the time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. While living in the Emperor's palace, God gave him grace in the sight of everyone, and they all loved him. He lived a lavish life in the palace, but all the time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. One day he was praying, and said, “O God teach me how to be saved.” And God’s voice came to him through the Gospel, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26). He left Constantinople and came by sea to Alexandria and fled into the wilderness. When he first presented himself to Saint Macarius the Great, the father of the monks of Scetis, he recommended him to the care of Saint John the Dwarf to try him.

Sometime around the year 400 he joined the desert monks at Scetes, Egypt, and asked to be admitted among the solitaries who dwelt there. Saint John the Dwarf, to whose cell he was conducted, though previously warned of the quality of his visitor, took no notice of him and left him standing by himself while he invited the rest to sit down at table. When the repast was half finished he threw down some bread before him, bidding him with an air of indifference eat if he would. Arsenius meekly picked up the bread and ate, sitting on the ground. Satisfied with this proof of humility, St. John kept him under his direction. The new solitary was from the first most exemplary yet unwittingly retained certain of his old habits, such as sitting cross-legged or laying one foot over the other. Noticing this, the abbot requested some one to imitate Arsenius's posture at the next gathering of the brethren, and upon his doing so, forthwith rebuked him publicly. Arsenius took the hint and corrected himself.

In 434 he was forced to leave due to raids on the monasteries and hermitages there by the Mazici (tribesmen from Libya). He relocated to Troe (near Memphis), and also spent some time on the island of Canopus (off Alexandria). He spent the next fifteen years wandering the desert wilderness before returning to Troe to die c. 445 at the age of around 100.

During the fifty-five years of his solitary life he was always the most meanly clad of all, thus punishing himself for his former seeming vanity in the world. In like manner, to atone for having used perfumes at court, he never changed the water in which he moistened the palm leaves of which he made mats, but only poured in fresh water upon it as it wasted, thus letting it become stenchy in the extreme. Even while engaged in manual labour he never relaxed in his application to prayer. At all times copious tears of devotion fell from his eyes. But what distinguished him most was his disinclination to all that might interrupt his union with God. When, after long search, his place of retreat was discovered, he not only refused to return to court and act as adviser to his former pupil, now Roman Emperor, Arcadius, but he would not even be his almoner to the poor and the monasteries of the neighbourhood. He invariably denied himself to visitors, no matter what their rank and condition and left to his disciples the care of entertaining them. A biography of Arsenius was written by Theodore the Studite.

Saint Arsenius was a man who was very quiet and often silent. He is most famous for always saying, “Many times I spoke, and as a result felt sorry, but I never regretted my silence.”


Two of his writings are still extant: a guideline for monastic life titled διδασκαλία και παραινεσις ("Instruction and Advice"), and a commentary on the Gospel of Luke titled εις τον πειρασθεν νομικος ("On the Temptation of the Law"). Apart from this, many sayings attributed to Arsenius are contained in the Apophthegmata Patrum.

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,

  • Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
  • This article incorporates text from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article "St. Arsenius" by A.J.B. Vuibert, a publication now in the public domain.

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane

Today's Snippet:  Apophthegmata Patrum


The Apophthegmata Patrum (lit. "Sayings of the Fathers)  (apo, from; phtheggomai, to cry out; pater, father) (Latin: Apophthegmata Patrum Aegyptiorum Greek: ἀποφθέγματα τῶν ἁγίων γερόντων, ἀποφθέγματα τῶν πατέρων, τὸ γεροντικόν) is the name given to various collections popularly known as of Sayings of the Desert Fathers, consisting of stories and sayings attributed to the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers from approximately the 5th century AC.

The collections consist of wisdom stories describing the spiritual practices and experiences of early Christian hermits living in the desert of Egypt. They are typically in the form of a conversation between a younger monk and his spiritual father, or as advice given to visitors. Beginning as an oral tradition in the Coptic language, they were only later written down as Greek text. The stories were extremely popular among early Christian monks, and appeared in various forms and collections.

The original sayings were passed down from monk to monk, though in their current version most simply describe the stories in the form of "Abba X said...." The early Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers also received many visitors seeking counseling, typically by asking "Give me a word, abba" or "Speak a word, amma, how can I be saved?" Some of the sayings are responses to those seeking guidance.

Many notable Desert Fathers and Mothers are mentioned in the collections, including Anthony the Great, Abba Arsenius, Abba Poemen, Abba Macarius of Egypt, and Abba Moses the Black. The sayings also include those of three different ammas, or Desert Mothers, most notably Syncletica of Alexandria. Sayings of the Desert Fathers influenced many notable theologians, including Jerome and Augustine.

History of the text

The Desert Fathers spoke Coptic, a language related to ancient Egyptian. The sayings were originally passed on orally in that language. The earliest written record of the sayings appears to be from the end of the 4th century AC. Two versions from the 5th century, the Collectio Monastica, written in Ethiopic, and the Asceticon of Abba Isaiah, written in Greek, show how the oral tradition became the written collections.

Pelagius and John the Deacon made the first translations of the Sayings into Latin. Martin of Braga also translated some of the sayings into Latin, followed by a more extensive translation by Paschasius of Dumium in approximately 555 AC. That work may contain only one-fifth of the original Greek text.

In the 17th century, the Dutch Jesuit Heribert Rosweyde compiled and translated all the available sources on the Desert Fathers, and published them in Latin as the Vitae patrum.

Helen Waddell translated a selection of elements from the Vitae Patrum into English in the early 20th century. The first complete translation of the "apothegmata" into English is that of Benedicta Ward (1975).

References:  Courtesy of Wikipedia,

  • Burton-Christie, Douglas (1993). The Word in the desert: scripture and the quest for holiness in early Christian monasticism. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 76–84. ISBN 0-19-508333-4.
  •  Chryssavgis, John; Ware, Kallistos; Ward, Benedicta (2008). In the Heart of the Desert: Revised Edition: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Treasures of the World's Religions). Bloomington, Ind.: World Wisdom. p. 4. ISBN 1-933316-56-X.
  • Ward, Benedicta (2003-07-29). The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (Revised ed.). Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044731-8.

Recommended reading:

  • Williams, Rowan (2004-11-19). Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert. Lion Publishing plc. ISBN 0-7459-5170-8.
  • Ward, Benedicta (2003-07-29). The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (Revised ed.). Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044731-8.
  • Sourozh, Metropolitan Anthony of; Benedicta Ward (1987-06). The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Revised ed.). Cistercian Publications. ISBN 0-87907-959-2.
  • Merton, Thomas (2004-11-16). The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century (Gift edition ed.). Shambhala. ISBN 1-59030-039-4.