Sunday, March 2, 2008

from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

On this Laetare Sunday, which marks the half-way point of this Lent, Pater Tom reminded me of the time when Abba Pambo went to Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Abba Joseph, who was an old man at the time, "stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire" and he replied to Abba Pambo: "If you will, you can become all flame." I was left thinking, "Why not? After all, our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12,29). I also thought that it was all Abba Pambo's hedging, "as far as I can;" "a little", etc. that roused both old man's and God's ire. I am also reminded of Abba Anthony Bloom when he tells us that God is not a tame kitten, but a roaring lion. Check your timidity, your as far as I cans, and your a littles at the door of the lion's den, on the perimeter of the all-consuming fire, at that point at which you hear the inviting roar or begin to feel your skin get hot and begin to smell your hair burning. Caritas, God's love, is fierce! Abba, or, Abuna (a.k.a. Aboona) is the Eastern term, from Aramaic and Arabic, for father. In the Eastern Christian tradition holy orders is not the arbiter of being an Abba, but advancement in the spiritual life.

See also Exodus 3,2-15

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