Message from the Abbot
As we approach great and Holy Lent, as we stand at the foot of this great mountain and view its grandeur, we are left with two options; either to ignore the call to climb to its summit or to muster the strength to embark on this great journey. For those who have never experienced this great journey or have not even climbed smaller mountains cannot understand the point of this struggle to the summit, the sacrifice needed to reach a height that humans can only achieve with their free will…to aspire to climb upwards. Those who decide to climb this mountain are advised to seek a guide (Spiritual Father), who will train them in the art of the climb, what to look out for and how to sustain the journey.
As we climb, the lower level seems monotonous and tiresome, the meaning of the journey has not captivated us yet; even when hearing encouraging words from our guide, we are tempted with the thoughts of ‘shall I continue’ or ‘shall I retreat’. However, as we climb we start to see the beauty that lies beyond, we start to see where we were and where we are going. As with any feat, there will be slips and falls, however the guide is there to show you how to heal and to protect what’s most vital; he is there to give you the sustenance needed to strengthen you. Half way up the great mountain we start to feel a sense of accomplishment, there’s no turning back, you start to understand the joy of climbing, you start to understand its meaning and you never want the journey to end. Your body feels free, your outlook is clear, you see your fellow climbers and are encouraged by each other because you share the same journey to the same summit…What will this summit be like?
Closer to the top there are times when you will need oxygen because your lungs aren’t used to the thin air. You perceive your weakness (sins), but your guide is well trained to show you how to strengthen your breathing with a special technique (Holy Confession), which has been passed on from one experienced guide to another. We are in safe hands. We have now been strengthened with this new way of breathing, we look to the summit and are even more determined to continue to this ultimate goal. You and your guide have now built a special spiritual bond. The summit is so close and you can’t wait…You begin to thirst, an uncontrollable thirst comes over you, you and your guide have depleted your water supply, your guide turns to you with his last advice and training…he kneels and turns to GOD and prays – this is vital! Without God’s help we cannot achieve the summit; we need His intercession…A spring begins to gush forth from our Lord’s mercy, from the side of the mountain (Jesus Christ), it’s water! It’s LIFE! Our guide instructs us to drink of the Divine Water (Holy Communion), and we are saved! We stare at the summit with strengthened vigour. The summit is not the end, it becomes our beginning; you begin to understand the entire purpose of this climb. It wasn’t the mountain, it wasn’t the summit; it is the Divine experience…the Living Divine Water…the LIVING GOD for which you climbed the mountain.
God is waiting for us to climb His mountain. For those who have not experienced this Divine climb and the Grace that awaits us, I sincerely suggest you find a “Guide” and join us this Great Lent.
With Love in Christ,
Holy Monastery of Saint John