Runway Lights in the Desert

“Angels are the light of monks, and monks are the light of men.”

Comment: Orthodoxy is not actually a belief system; it’s more closely understood as an asceticism. The essence of the Faith, in every aspect, is ascetic. Even our theology is apophatic – or negative theology – a theology of prayerfully removing from our minds all false images. In fact, standing in prayer is our most basic ascetic activity and study of theology, and the Church’s prayers are monastic prayers. Our fasts, likewise, are the monastic fasts. So it is with the many pious labours of the faithful. Our Bishop, who stands with us as our champion, like David calmly facing the giant Goliath, is usually a monastic. Unlike him, we may be married, but even marriage, lived out in an Orthodox manner, is an ascetic feat. With the monks, we are all engaged in a continual war with the passions, remembering that, in a war, it is possible to be defeated. The Orthodox are at war with Death, the ultimate affliction, the Enemy, the ultimate foe of creation, and the World, the ultimate delusional system. The monks are the warrior caste among us, training us in the strategies and tactics of battle. The monks go before us in theosis, as runway lights in the desert for all we “lay-ascetics’. We refer to the monks as earthly angels, the earthly hosts, surrounding us at all times with prayers, amid more angels than stars. There are banners in the invisible world, trumpets in this seeming silence, incense thick in the air, and the din of heroes. – DD

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