Little Văn Learns About Ponos


In his Conversations with Jesus, Little Brother Marcel Văn CSsR learns about fatigue. Fatigue or ponos is something that, for many Eastern Church Fathers, is an ingredient in a spirituality of surrender and transformation in Christ. If we go so far that we recognize our limits, in genuine fatigue, then we see that all we can do, if we sincerely desire to continue, is to give it up into Jesus’ hands.

Jesus “teaches” Văn like this:

It is only in these moments of fatigue that I am able to make you see your weakness and to teach you that, truly, you haven’t got a scintilla of virtue… Little brother, see how weak you are. That is enough for you to abandon yourself to me and to put all confidence in me alone. It is in knowing your nothingness that your confidence in me will be truly firm. (651–652)

This simplicity in relying on ponos or fatigue in everyday life is very much like some of the Eastern Church Fathers (my limited reading and poor memory think of Maximus and Macarius).

Indeed, Marcel wrote about this from his own perspective, too. He later writes of his first experiences with long work as follows:

During three long months my only resolution after each meditation was this: ‘Today I am going to try to clean the pans well, to make the floor shine, and to clean the fireplace with great care, all for the love of Jesus.’ … Once used to the fatigue, once used to acting ‘for the love of Jesus’, my will had become submitted entirely to love. (Autobiography, 805–806)

What is it? It’s just fatigue. It isn’t any special secret. It isn’t a special, esoteric method of uniting oneself to God’s will. It isn’t a special, magnificent, spell-binding formula for becoming holy. It’s just fatigue, ponos. “Fatigue… is enough for you to abandon yourself to me and to put all confidence in me alone.” Here we have a spirituality of weakness, of confidence, of child-like abandon, of growth… and of bridge-building in terminology between Eastern and Western Christianity also.

Some related posts:


One thought on “Little Văn Learns About Ponos

  1. Pingback: A Few Words about Ponos in a Letter | Contemplative in the Mud

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