So far, this Lent, we have been hearing from desert teachers who were extremely and extraordinarily disciplined in their spiritual lives. People have likened the desert fathers and mothers to athletes, who dedicate their minds and bodies to a certain way of life. These people seem unapproachable at times and their lives often irrelevant to ours. What can we learn from a bunch of solitary ascetics about how to live the spiritual life in the 21st century?
In Ephesians, which is attributed to the Apostle Paul, we learn that we are all called to live our faith in different ways. We hear that God gifts us differently to share those gifts accordingly. There is no one way to live the Jesus way. Anthony the Great learned this by coming to understand that he was no more spiritual than the physician. We are not all called to the desert, to the monastic life. However, we are all called to live lives committed to God and the neighbor.
This is what the desert teachers have to say to us today. We all have different vocations. God has called us to live the command of love in different ways and spaces. The extremity of the desert teachers is like a litmus test for us. How devoted, how committed are we to our calling?
What has God called you to in your life? Are you applying your full self to this calling? Are you setting aside distractions in order to live more fully into your calling? Are you applying your gifts to where they need to be given? Are you serious about the life God has called you to lead?
These are the questions the desert teachers bring us to ask of ourselves.