June 2010

Fr. Antony Portrait

"There is no more ascetic feat more difficult, more painful, than the effort to draw close to God Who is love."  Fr Sophrony

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Christ is in our midst!

Long ago, when I was a little boy, a Roman Catholic priest came to speak at our church in Erwin, Tennessee.  We attended a Presbyterian church at that time having left the Baptist church just down the street a year or so earlier.  The priest's name was Fr. LaFrance.  He was an imposing figure for a small child: tall, a full head of jet black hair, and eyes that seem to have their own source of light.

I remember only two things about that evening.  I remember that Rev. Kribbs introduced Fr. LaFrance as a man who was headed to a monastery in New Orleans where he was prepared to take a vow of silence!  For the rest of his life!  The second thing I remember is that at the end of the service I was introduced to him.  He took my little face in his hands, looked down at me, and smiled a most beautiful smile.   I don't remember if he said anything or not.  Words were not necessary.  That moment for me was a glimpse into the face of God.

There was something about the smile that moved me.  Behind it was a life of service to God, of trials and tribulations that cleanse the soul endured, of a commitment to unceasing prayer, and to holiness I had not previously imagined possible.  There were deep spiritual riches behind those eyes.  I have searched long and hard all of my life to find a way to imitate what I saw that night.

Purity, humility, and prayer are the necessary elements.  Purity is the gateway, humility lights the way, and prayer polishes the soul.  I saw them all in that remarkable priest.

Have a blessed and relaxing summer.  Stay present.  Be mindful.  Remember God as often as you breathe.

Love in Christ,

Fr. Antony