A MEETING OF MONKS
The snow was now falling very heavily as this strangest of companies were trying to make sense of talking cats, Russian Presidents waxing lyrical about Catholic saints, and Saudi Kings and Israeli Prime Ministers being lectured on the need for Jews and Moslems to be reconciled, and all this under the gaze of saints and angels. However this is not so strange, for as the cats realized, the worlds of Heaven and Hell are realities. They can see them, and we either cannot, or have forgotten how to, or will not. If human beings lived and behaved as if God could see their every thought and action, then the world would be transformed into something quite wonderful.
All the humans in the room and the cats were lost in their own thoughts, a thing that the angels, and saints could not be, as they were taken up in prayer continuously, even when on their many missions. As the humans were deep in thought, weighed down by anxiety, or even enveloped in prayer, there was a rustling sound, and standing in the midst of the cats were four monks, three were dressed in black habits, one of of them wore a hood, and the fourth one was in white and was also hooded.
The darkest of them all (they were all bearded) said in a deep sonorous voice. “The cats have spoken well, for they realize the importance of monasticism, and that is why we have come, to lead you on the final leg of your journey. Let me introduce myself and my fellow monks.
“I am Antony of Egypt, and the father of all monks. Here are my brothers, St. Basil the Great Father of all Eastern monks, St. Benedict of Nursia, Father of all monks of the West, and finally St. Romuald Father of all the hermits of the West. The world needs and anchor, and that anchor must be monasticism. For the monastic life is the life of Heaven on Earth, and it is not unlike the great lighted stairway by which Benedict’s soul ascended to Heaven. It is us monks and hermits that make a perpetual sacrifice of praise that give sanity and hope to the World. Our lives of penance and prayer are like torches in the despair filled night of the present Age. In our oases of peace and prayer we implored God to have mercy on the errant world. Our monks, those who still live our life in all its reality, and do not play at, inhabit the world physically, but are definitely not of it. St. Benedict’s motto is ‘Peace’, as sorely needed today as ever it was.” Turning to St. Benedict, he said, “Have you a word for us Abba Benedict?”
In a voice that brought warmth and comfort to the listener, St. Benedict spoke of humility:
“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes and never forgets it. He must constantly remember everything God has commanded, keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. While he guards himself at every moment from sins and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, let him recall that he is always seen by God in heaven, that his actions everywhere are in God’s sight and are reported by angels at every hour.”
“Basil, Bishop, Monk, and Father of The Church, what would gift of wisdom do you wish to give us?” asked the great Egyptian monk.
St. Basil replied, and said “My brother Benedict has spoken of humility from his marvellous rule, but I will not speak from either of my rules, but as we have these cats and dogs here, I wish to speak of animals. I will quote from my Hexameron.“ The cats perked up at this, but were somewhat disappointed at what was to follow, but St. Colette’s lamb who had reappeared in Colette’s arms, along with the dogs, were most gratified, and President Putin’s dogs were all ears.
“With animals invincible affection unites parents with children. It is the Creator, God Himself, who substitutes the strength of feeling for reason in them. From whence it comes that a lamb as it bounds from the fold, in the midst of a thousand sheep recognises the colour and the voice of its mother, runs to her, and seeks its own sources of milk......And how does the mother recognise it among the many lambs? All have the same voice, the same colour, the same smell, as far at least as regards our sense of smell. Yet there is in these animals a more subtle sense than our perception, which makes them recognise their own.........
The dog is not gifted with a share of reason;” The dogs who had been all alertness with their ears pricked, suddenly looked very down in the mouth. Their ears drooped, but then they pricked up again when they heard what followed. St Basil continued“but with him instinct has the power of reason. The dog has learnt by nature the secret of elaborate inferences, which sages of the world, after long years of study, have hardly been able to disentangle.............
Does not the gratitude of the dog shame all who are ungrateful to their benefactors? Many are said to have fallen dead by their murdered masters in lonely places. Others, when a crime is committed, have led those who were searching for their murderers, and have caused the criminals to be brought to justice. What will those who, not content with not loving the Master who has created them and nourished them, have for their friends men whose mouth attacks the Lord, sitting at the same table with them, and, whilst partaking of their food, blaspheme Him who has given it to them?”
The dogs were very happy at these words of the illustrious bishop of Caesarea. The cats were looking puzzled, but then remembered what St. Benedict said regarding humility and immediately cheered up.
“And finally dear St. Romuald, have you anything that you would like to say?” with this kind invitation by St. Antony, St. Romuald could do no other than reply.
“Sit in the cell as in paradise;
cast all memory of the world behind you;
cautiously watching your thoughts as a good fisher watches fish.”
When he finished, an even greater peace descended upon the company, and the dogs and the cats promptly fell asleep and began to snore loudly.
St. Antony looked around the room. He saw his fellow saints, and St. Michael. He saw the celestial animals, and he saw the leaders of countries, and the scientists. He saw the Pope and the Patriarch, the bishops, and the cardinals, and some of the monks of the Patriarch’s household, who had sneaked in to see if everything was alright. However, if the truth be told they had come out of pure curiosity, thankfully it was pure, in that they had prayed that it was not idle curiosity, which had led them to the room, but a concern for their beloved Patriarch, Kirill.
“Holy Fathers” said the Father of Monks. “I think perhaps, and this would be more true of the Latins here, that perhaps you do not realize the immense gravity of the times. Let me remind you of what I said back in the 4th century. ‘A time is coming when people will go mad and when they meet someone who is not mad, they will turn to him and say “You are out of your mind”, just because you are not like them.’ That time is upon us, but it is worse than even I had realized, because the madness is the result of an evil that is truly Satanic, after all evil is always the poisonous fruit of Satan’s revolt, but this new evil is of a distilled quality. It has intensified, because Western Man has drunk deep in the wells of anti-Christian philosophy and drunk of the water of pseudo science. The battle is joined, the victory is assured, but we must lessen the casualties. Souls must be saved. But lo ! the snow has stopped, the moon illumines the night, the carriages await. It is time to go. Suddenly there fell upon the assembled company a shower of beautiful heavily scented roses. “Ah” said Pope Francis, “It is St. Thérèse’s ‘Little Way’. “It is indeed” said a silvery voice, and there, all smiles, was ‘The Little Flower’ herself. She laughingly added, “Though it is little, it is rather long; well this time anyway.”