17 January 2008

A Man of The Desert

The Church commemorates St. Anthony the abbot today. Having retired to the desert as a young man Anthony found that disciples and seekers who wanted to learn from him "crowded" his solitude. It is very difficult to keep a good thing hidden. In a way, his experiences are not altogether unlike today's (serendipitous) Gospel account where Jesus asks the man whom he healed not to tell anyone. Jesus' solitude and privacy became scarce once the word spread.
Sometimes we can feel that our personal space is becoming crowded by circumstances beyond our control. Saint Francis de Sales often suggested to busy men and women who sought his counsel that they cultivate a habit of making a quiet offering, in their hearts, to the Lord amid whatever chaos and noise surrounds them. We cannot always control the circumstances that befall us, but we can protect our hearts from becoming troubled by entrusting them to the Lord. For interior silence is as important as any exterior tranquility we can observe.

"We ought to have a very zealous love for the keeping of silence. This virtue . . . is the mother or prayer, and the guardian of the heart."

St. Jane de Chantal

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