Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Now I only gaze at You

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Ask yourselves what is real.  Both the heavens and the earth as you know them may conceal their frailty and only the busyness around you prevents you from seeing how quickly they sink into nothingness.  But evil that surrounds you exposes its feebleness and infirmity.  Therefore, nourish yourselves upon the Lord alone; seek to quench your thirst with His love, for it alone endures.  Only in His heart will your soul find rest and only the labors placed at His feet will bear fruit unto eternity.  

Set your gaze upon Him alone.

My elders taught me, when I was a youth, to cling to heaven and earth, lest I stumble. For a long time I remained a child, and for a long time I used to lean on the crutch that they gave me.

But once eternity flooded through me and I felt like a stranger in the world, heaven and earth snapped in two in my hands like a frail reed.

O Lord, my strength, how frail are heaven and earth! They look like palaces built of lead, but they evaporate like water in the palm of the hand in Your presence. Only by their bristling do they conceal their frailty, and frighten uneducated children.

Get out of my sight, suns and stars. Sunder yourselves from the earth. Do not entice me, women and friends. What help can I receive from you, who are helplessly growing old and sinking into the grave?

All your gifts are an apple with a worm in its core. All your potions have passed through someone's entrails many times. Your garments are a cobweb that my nakedness mocks. Your smiles are a proclamation of sorrow, in which your feebleness is screaming to mine for help.

O Lord, my strength, how feeble heaven and earth are! And all the evil that men do under heaven is an admission of feebleness and—infirmity.

Only someone strong dares to do good. Only someone who is nourished and watered with You, my strength, is filled with strength for goodness.

Only someone who sleeps in Your heart knows rest. Only someone who plows before Your feet will enjoy the fruit of his labors.

My childhood, nourished with fear and ignorance, came to an end; and my hope in heaven and earth vanished. Now I only gaze at You and cling to Your gaze in return, O my cradle and my resurrection.

Prayers by the Lake IV
St. Nikolai of Ochrid

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