God’s Peace and blessings to you all! For our next lesson on the Lausiac History, I invite you to read Chapter 5: Alexandra; Chapter 6: The Rich Virgin; and Chapter 7: The Monks of Nitria. As you read consider these questions:
Chapter 5: Alexandra > Alexandra shut herself away in order that another might not fall into temptation an sin. To what degree are we responsibile by the actions we can take for the actions of others? Do you agree with Alexandra’s reasoning? Alexandra talk about how she deals with accidie (listlessness and boredom that arise as distractions for those that practice the contemplative life, especially for solitaries). How can we, as modern contemplatives, deal with our own listlessness in our prayer lives?
Chapter 6: The Rich Virgin > This is tough story for modern readers. Holy Macarius’ tactics would probably get him in a lot of trouble today! All the same, how do we deal with our own greed and avarice, as we live in a consumer driven world today? Palladius describes the virgin thus: “There was a virgin at Alexandria of humble exterior but haughty inward disposition.” That is to say, she had the outward appearance of a monastic, but was not so inwardly. This is hardly a new danger for Christians. After all, I’m sure we all know people who profess to be Christian, but their actions prove otherwise. I have even known, much to my distress, some who simply enjoy wearing habits like monks, but refuse the difficult formation and accountabilty of actual community. People like this are everywhere, and, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we all fall into this trap ourselves at one time or another. So, not having a holy Macarius around all the time, how do we hold each other accountable so that we are contemplatives inwardly first, and thus show ourselves as contemplatives outwardly by response?
Chapter 7: The Monks of Nitria > Palladius observes: “On the mountain live some 5000 men with different modes of life, each living in accordance with his own powers and wishes, so that it is allowed to live alone, or with another, or with a number of others.” What does this tell us about the uniformity of contemplative life?
You can find the text for the Lausiac History HERE. Enjoy and God’s Peace!