One of the monks was Fr Raphael, whose spiritual father at one time was the 98-years old archimandrite Fr Athenogenes. This holy elder was revered by the entire monastery.

Once the entire monastery gathered to celebrate the name day of the old elder, and all the monks spoke words of respect and reverence about this holy elder. Fr Athenogenes heard everyone, and stood there silent for quite awhile, before saying to all, “What can I possibly say to you, my brothers? I just love you all.” Everyone wept, even the most stoic ones.

Our profession of faith, and our love for God, can be simply said, because love is simple and can be said simply. There is no complexity, when all we want is to seek God, and all we seek in God consumes us until there is just 4 words left, “I love You God.”

Much is the same about our journey of seeking to love others. There is no complexity just as young children adore and love their parents without question, without flowery words, without artistry or pretenses. They just simply hold on to their parents tightly (St Matthew 18:1-4).

Let us always seek to return to our truest selves, our simplest selves, our most fundamental and basic persons. In there, we find enough simplicity, enough humility, enough awe for God, to simply acknowledge our God, and to simply love God (St Mark 12:28-30). And through Him, we find the same strength and joy to begin our acceptance of not just ourselves, but others to empathize and love.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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