Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016… Connections

Ascetic 1

 

 

 

 

70 miles north here in the secluded Chama River valley is “Christ in the Desert Monastery”.  In the monastery there are 30 or so monks who live a life of solitude.  These monks have a goal to life free from all attachments. They attempt to live free from all the noise of the world so they can have an exclusive relationship with God. These 30 or so monks spend their lives quietly mostly in prayer. 

 

 

From their website…

“The monks who live in Christ in the Desert intercede with God on behalf of those humans suffering in so many ways in the world of today, whether by poverty, famine, handicaps, sickness, loneliness, mental illnesses, and all too frequently, a loss of hope. The monks’ task is to bring to God all those who know not their God, who are lost in self-seeking, who have turned away from truth and love. On behalf of all people but especially those who are so separated from God, the monks of this monastery endeavor to hold all in need before the face of the God of Holiness, asking for mercy and healing by passionate prayer.”

 

 

They do not think of themselves as being out of the world, but rather their job is to intercede for the world.  They view themselves as saving the world by prayer. 

 

 

--Their day begins at 4:00am with VIGILS… this is an hour of prayer, Scriptures and readings. 

--At 5:45 the community gathers for the chanting of the LAUDS… Psalms of praise.

--This is followed by a daily Mass… what we call communion.

--At 8:30 the brothers meet in the Chapter room for announcements and daily work assignments.  These work assignments may include cooking, laundry, correspondence with guests, gardening, computer work, maintenance, cleaning the guesthouse, porter, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, and crafts.

--8:45 TERCE is chanted… more praise Psalms.

--From 9:00 till 1:00 they work.

--At 1:00 they take their main meal of the day… in silence.

--3:30 is another short praise time.

--5:50 is another

--7:10 is the nightly Chapter meeting where they listen to the Rules of St. Benedict… they founder of their order.

--7:30 ends the day with another worship period.

--Then there is the GREAT SILENCE… From 8:00 pm until MASS the following day, the monks observe the GREAT SILENCE when all unnecessary conversation ceases and during the hours of dark turn their thoughts to resting in God.

--They follow this routine every day, 365 days a year, with a slight variation on Sundays when they worship more. 

 

 

The monks of Christ in the Desert monastery… Pray, Study, Worship and Work.  Their days are spent mostly in silence only speaking when necessary.  This is fascinating.  This is so opposite of how we live.  This is the ultimate for the Ascetic Temperament.

 

 

Which is the 6th temperament…

 

 

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So far…

 

 

The Nine Historical Temperaments…

--The Intellectual connects through knowing God; there is joy in learning about God.  – Knowing nod.

--The Caregiver connects in serving Jesus.  There is joy in serving the needy.  - Give yourself a hug.

--The Traditionalist connects through the symbols of faith.  There is joy in the traditional rituals.  – Hand of God sign

--The Enthusiast connects in the praise of mystery.  There is enthusiastic joy in celebration.  – Whoop whoop.

--The Sensate connects in creating beauty.  Ooooh… Aaah…

--The Ascetic connects in the discipline of solitude… quiet…

 

 

This temperament is the most foreign of the nine for us to connect to.

 

 

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Two words describe the Ascetic Temperament… first word… solitude.

 

The ascetic temperament gravitates toward solitude.  The Ascetic connects in quietness.  They are distracted by the noise of the world, so they feel the closest connection with God in silence.  Indeed, these believers find their souls awaken in being alone in God.  They seek out solitude. 

 

 

Most of us feel solitude creates loneliness.  But for the ascetic solitude is not loneliness, but rather an opportunity for intimacy with the Father.  Modern day Ascetics recognize that even if they are married, work with lots of other people and even have a busy ministry at church, they must have some alone time for a deepening walk with God.  Solitude is essential in that ascetics live fundamentally internal existences.  Caregivers need people to help.  Enthusiasts want to party.  But for Ascetics solitude is recharging.  They don’t need to be at a monastery to express their faith, but they must find places to detach in the middle of their busy lives.  Family and friends will need to learn to give ascetics a certain amount of time alone. 

 

 

The second word which describes Ascetics is… discipline. 

 

 

Ascetics are also drawn to strictness.  To the Ascetic self-denial is a good thing.  They love the order of routine.  They do not mind self-control.  They are not frivolous.  They abhor wastefulness.  A simple life is appealing to the ascetic. Organization is a virtue.  But, strictness is not a goal in itself.  They are strict only because they want to reserve a major portion of their lives for their passionate pursuit of God.  Things that distract them from their alone-time with God are to be minimized. 

 

 

The Ascetic temperament is solitude and discipline.

 

 

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Our culture has a difficult time understanding the ascetic temperament.  We might admire these people.  Wow, that is amazing. What they do is cool. But, inside we suspect that they are religious fanatics, which is a first cousin to mental illness.  There has to be something a little bit off to want to be by yourself and do nothing and have nothing.  Ascetics, perhaps more than any of the other temperaments, go against our culture.

 

 

Our culture is anything but quiet.  Quiet is such an odd thing.  Quiet is rare.  It is easy for us to never be in quiet. Last week as I traveled… I sat an observed in the airport… most everyone was in their phone. There were a few paper books and newspapers.  Some couples talking together.  Nobody was doing… nothing.  There is no quiet in our society.  Our minds are crammed with stuff constantly unless we are asleep.  Quiet is a rare commodity. 

                                         

We are obsessed with activity… there is a belief that value is connected to amount of activity.  The busier a person is the more valuable they are.  So, we fill our time with more and more.  We cram our time with one thing after another.  There is no dead-time.  That phrase is indicative of how we feel about quiet… it is dead-time.  That is fascinating. 

 

 

Perhaps, we need the Ascetic Temperament more than any of the others.  Perhaps, the Ascetic brings the most precious reminder to us… Be Still and Know that I am God.  Perhaps, if we may score the lowest on this temperament, we may need to work on this one. 

 

 

Let’s find out… it’s time for the Ascetic Temperament Test.

 

 

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Ascetic Temperament Test.

 

 

On a Scale of 1 -10… with 10 describing you…

 

 

1. I spend time in the quiet.  Think about a typical day.  How much time to you spend by yourself in the quiet.  You may be working but there is no noise or news or tv or music… quiet. 

 

 

2. When I am in a car I do not turn on the radio… or anything else. Can you travel in a car with no outside stimuli? 

 

 

3. I participate in long-distance athletic activities…walking/ hiking/ running/ biking or such.  This may be where those with the Ascetic temperament find a place in our society.  Runners like the discipline.  They like the challenge.  They spend time alone.  Some don’t use headphones. 

 

 

4. I get rid of stuff I don’t use.  I am not a horder.    

 

 

5. I enjoy my time alone.

 

 

6. I am on time.  Being late reflects lack of discipline. 

 

 

7. I have a strict routine.  I make plans.  I like having an agenda. I stick by the agenda. 

 

 

8. I fast.  That is you are not fast… but you exercise the discipline of fasting.  Next week I plan on talking about fasting.  Fasting is certainly an Ascetic activity. 

 

 

9.  Waiting doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind the time. I can always pray.

 

 

10. I have a regular quiet devotional time.  I worship, pray, sing to God by myself.

 

 

Anyone over 50… 60… 70…

 

 

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The monks of Christ in the Desert Monastery… fully embrace the Ascetic Temperament. They would score 100, or more.  I am not advocating that we become monks, but with this score ______ , perhaps need to explore this temperament.  We need to learn to combat busyness in order to find time for God.

 

 

Exercise for the week… find a time to be quiet for… an hour, half hour, 15 minutes…

 

 

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Ascetic Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Busy One: The Lord our God, the Lord is the Unassuming one.

You shall love the Lord your God…

…with all your heart, making time for your LOVER.

…with all your soul, spent with the LORD alone.

…with all your mind, with thoughts of Him.

…with all your strength, in discipline.”

 

My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.

 

 

Tim Stidham

June 19, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ