Not being able to sleep I got up at 3 am and spent a fair bit of time meditating on the spiritual journey.

As I get older the life of prayer seems to get more difficult, not more easy. Temptations continue and one of them is the temptation to give up. Not to do anything radically wicked, but simply to give up in the spiritual quest–to drift if you like.

As I was thinking about this I came under attack. Satan,–who is the accuser of the brethren–told me that the whole thing–my life in Christ, my vocation to the priesthood, my becoming Catholic, my service as a priest–that all of it was one big elaborate escape mechanism to run away from who I truly am. In other words it was an exercise in self loathing, and therefore the whole thing was a lie and I was simply a huge fraud.

But the devil always overplays his hand. By the time it got to the point of him accusing me of being a massive charlatan I pulled the rug out from under him and laughed at myself. Of course I’m a huge hypocrite. Everybody who follows Christ accepts an incredibly high standard of behavior to live up to. We’re all failures and frauds when you come down to the bottom line.

So I muttered into the dark, “Yes, I am a fraud and a failure. That is why I rely more and more on the hesychasm: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Have Mercy on me a Sinner.” This is not to accept my failure or condone my pride and sin, but to prompt repentance.

It seems, therefore, at this stage in my life (I’m 65 this year) that the journey is increasingly one that takes me into the wilderness, and I suppose the further one goes into the desert, the thirstier one becomes and the deeper one goes into the wilderness the more likely one is to get lost, fall into a canyon, stumble into a trap or be devoured by wild beasts.

Then in the darkness a still small voice whispered, “The higher one climbs on the mountain the steeper the ascent.”