So, then, whoever seeks to be received into the discipline of the cenobium is never admitted until, by lying outside for ten days or more, he has given an indication of his perseverance and desire, as well as of his humility and patience. And when he has embraced the knees of all the brothers passing by and has been purposely rebuked and disdained by everyone, as if he wished to enter the monastery not out of devotion but out of necessity, and has been visited with numerous insults and reproaches and has given proof of his constancy, and by putting up with taunts has shown what he will be like in time of trial, and when the ardor of his intention has been proven and he has thus been received, he is asked with the utmost earnestness if, from his former possessions, the contamination of even a single copper coin clings to him. ~ St. John Cassian
Had that question been posed to me, I would have been in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that the contamination of more than a single copper coin clings to me. As long as this world continues to have a hold over me, the chink and clang of copper coins will give me away, and deny me entry into the Heart of God.
Ever so often, I trundle from the other end of the spectrum, and go to where I think I’m not so bad after all, taking up position, not quite Pharisee, not quite Publican, but somewhere in between. It is for such times that this warning has come to me today – if the contamination of even a single copper coin clings to me – for when I dare to delude myself that God will not mind a stray copper coin or two in my heart.
The contamination of even a single copper coin.
I think of the ancient prayer, Into Your hands I commend my spirit, Christ’s last words on the Cross. I think of the way the prayer blew into my heart last week, with the sultry evening breezes from the chambers of the orange~purple sunset skies. I think of the way this old prayer of life has returned to me in these last days of Lent – this ‘bridging prayer’ – marking the ending of one life, leading to the beginning of the next.
I wonder why it has returned; somehow, it is time to ask that question.
The moment I do, a memory returns.
The memory of Tearing Winds on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes last year. Of a strange, frightening, intense internal storm hidden from everyone else. A powerful, almost debilitating rage of winds inside my soul, with no discernible source. The hours of struggle. Struggle to hold on. Struggle to pray. Every prayer being snatched away by violent hurricanes. Struggling to make sense of what this was, clawing my way out of its vortex.
And each time, falling back.
Until I screamed for Mother of Lourdes. She sent me a prayer like a lightning bolt.
Into Your hands I commend my spirit.
I lunged for it like the lifeline it was. And then, the storms died.
Much, much later, prompted by the Spirit, I returned to the memory. I was made to understand that the tearing winds were from the future.
And they were coming for our spirits.
Into Your hands I commend my spirit is the Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping. In the last breaths of Lent, the Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping has returned strongly to me. To be said at every moment of recollection. When I am disturbed. When I am at peace. When I am filled with joy.
I run the eyes of my heart over these past few days. I want to make sure I am missing nothing.
The Prayer of Spirit Safekeeping had returned first. That was followed by the warning of the copper coin, that I hold back nothing for myself.
I remain still before the discernment.
The pearl slides into its oyster.
The house must be swept clean and returned to its Master.