Stories that trapped me
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 6:55 AM [+]
Christ is Born!
Within the life of the Church we have lots of wonderful stories. Last night I spent sometime talking about such stories with a good friend and his wife; stories like that of St. Ignatios of Antioch who is said to be the little child used as an example by our Lord after pulling him onto His lap in the Gospels and telling his disciples to become like "this little child", or that of the thief who is said to have prevented the "mugging" of the Holy Family as they made their way to Eygpt and would later ask Jesus to remember him as they died together. And there are many many others which accent and expound upon the experience of Holy Scripture. Another wonderful part of that great liturgical dance which is bound to "Life in Christ" as the Orthodox understand it.
Also there are those wonderful stories kept alive primarily by our monastic brothers and sisters that direct us in the way of deified life. This one came to me from Elder Ephraim via the collection of his letters and homilies entitled Counsels from the Holy Mountain
There once was a monk who happened to slip and sin by himself continually, yet he would always arise at once and do his prayer rule. The demon that kept throwing him into sin lost his patience seeing the courage and hopefulness of this brother. So he visibly appeared to him and said to him with vexation:
"Don't you fear God, you defiled wretch? You have just sinned, so with what face can you now stand before God? Aren't you afraid that God will burn you?"
But since this brother had a valiant soul, he said to the demon:
"This cell is a forge: you hit and get hit. As God is my witness, Who came to save the world, I will not stop fighting you, falling and getting up, beating and being beaten, until my final breath - and let's see who will win: you or Christ!"
When the demon heard this unexpected reply, he said:
"I won't fight you any more, because if I do, I'll make you win crowns."
Thenceforth, this brother was delivered from the warfare, and he sat in his cell weeping for his sins.
It is the richness of these stories and the life (or Paradosis) lived from which they are born and kept alive that so enraptured me about Orthodoxy. I could not sit on the outside and appreciate them...I felt lured into the river of that life. To me it was the difference between sneaking crumbs from the floor and hopping into one of the empty seats at the table. The emotion expressed by St. Peter (while getting his feet washed) is not all that different to my desire to enter fully into the Orthodoxy Way:
Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Spring the trap, I'm happy to be caught.