Monday, September 30, 2013

They Who Go Away for God's Sake

From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

It was said of Abba Agathon that he spent a long time building a cell with his disciples.
At last when it was finished, they came to live there. Seeing something during the first week which seemed to him harmful, he said to his disciples, “Get up, let us leave this place.”

But they were dismayed and replied, “If you had already decided to move, why have we taken so much trouble building the cell? People will be scandalized at us, and will say, ‘Look at them, moving again; what unstable people!’”

He saw they were held back by timidity and so he said to them, “If some are scandalized, others, on the contrary, will be much edified and will say, ‘How blessed are they who go away for God’s sake, having no other care.’ However, let him who wants to come, come; as for me, I am going.” Then they prostrated themselves to the ground and besought him to allow them to go with him.

Once, before I was Catholic, I was counseling a high school girl. She had been raised Catholic in her early years, but divorce and various family circumstances had led her away from the Church. She had become involved with a Pentecostal church, and of course, since I was a “Pentecostal” myself, I encouraged her.

When I finally saw the truth of the Catholic Church, and began the RCIA process, I talked to her again. I encouraged her to come back to the Catholic Church, and tried to explain what was wrong with the views of her Pentecostal community. She became angry and accused me of jumping from one “religion” to another; she saw me as “unstable” because I was converting from Protestantism to Catholicism.

So I see Abba Agathon’s point quite well. Something was wrong with the Pentecostal community where I had been worshiping God (or was I worshiping the music and myself?!), and so I left. I know some people were scandalized – “Look at her! Moving again! She’s unstable!” And yet, in the years since my conversion, I have known a few people who were edified by my conversion story. 

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