In the beginning, since all histories must have some sort of beginning, the Devil landed near this small village before it existed, before the mountains grew, and before even the stars and planets gathered in milky constellations. He hit the water in the nearby river with a mighty roar. Once out of Heaven, the Devil filled himself up with destruction and blew it around the universe. He caressed everything with his darkness and as soon as he met Adam and Eve he cursed them and all future human hearts with the knowledge of death. This went on for millions of years until one afternoon when the Devil got bored with destruction and wrecking lives and decided to visit the place where he had first landed. He returned to find a village by the river in which he had first landed. This was Banios sur l’Ange. When the Devil found the place where God had dumped him, he lived again the despair of rejection and the sadness of his loneliness. The earth shook, the wind from Provence danced with the wind from Africa, and the river flowed backwards for five days.
Fasting is recommended to us in both the Old and New Testaments and by the example of Christ and of his Saints. (Joel 2; Jonas 3) We learn that all who follow Christ are to fast and, moreover, that the devil will not leave us except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 9:15; Mark 9:28) It is made clear that, while we fell from God originally by succumbing to temptations, we return to him by fasting. The gratifying of our sensual appetites most often betrays us both in our flesh and our happiness. It is well known that the unbridled In the discipline of fasting, we overcome them both. In other words, fasting for a Christian is never out of fashion.
Follow the Route de Palomieres until you pass the little café on the top of the ridge. Then, look carefully to your right as the forest begins. By a collection of old tree stumps, you will see a narrow dirt road. This is the way you want to go. Brambles cover the ground so be careful. After about a half-mile the path gets steep. Don’t worry you are going the right way. It’s all up hill from now on. Slowly the trees open into meadows. Floating high above an eagle watches. If you hear distant bells, it is only from Marcel Fontan’s sheep. The air turns cold, but do not give up or be frightened. You are not lost but going to Banios-sur-l’Ange. This is where the Devil landed when God threw him out of Heaven.
In the distance, nested between high cliffs and a river, is a village. A pale mist hangs above it like a discarded Christmas ribbon. The warren of stone cottages that make up Banios-sur-l’Ange or Banios-by-the-Angel are blue under its shadow. But what you see over the village is not mist or Continue reading Chapter 1: The Return→
On this day, consider how God calls you. Come back to me, he says, Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning, and turn to the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-13) You need to hear this call in the depths of your faith and answer it without delay. Do not leave God waiting. Instead, use this day of repentance to put yourself right with him, because nothing is so dear to God as when men and women turn to him with true sorrow for having forgotten his commandments.
We know that God holds such repentance dear to his heart, because Jesus told us plainly that he had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32) Since God knows even our most secret thoughts, there is no way we could ever claim not to be sinners. (Psalm 93) He has called us to be holy and Continue reading On Repentance: Ash Wednesday Meditation→
Consider the dreadful choices we often make, because we do not know the true state of our own self. Even worse, just think back on how many times you did things, which on reflection you should have known were not true of yourself—how you really are and feel and what you deem truly valuable in your life. Your choices, if not true of yourself, cast away both your own past experience as well as the doctrines, values, ethics and morality of your faith, your church and the teaching of Jesus. In short, we often make choices which throw out the baby with the bath water, simply because we ignore the deeper understanding we have of our true self—a self which rest in Christ and is under the will of God.
How many in the world pass their whole lives in ignorance or denial of the truth of that wisdom which proclaims Know thyself! The result for people is often a collapse into sin just for want of looking into themselves with an honest eye and an open heart. So many imagine themselves to be alive when in reality they are dead. (Apoc. 3:1) How many imagine themselves and their souls to be rich and wealthy and in need of Continue reading Preparatory Meditations for Lent→
These meditations, inspired by those of the Roman Catholic Bishop, Richard Challoner (1691-1781), are designed to help you to be reconciled to God through prayer and repentance. In this way you share in the Passion of Christ and draw, once again, closer to Our Lord. While these meditations are in the Roman Catholic tradition, they all arise from Holy Scripture and the wisdom of saints and celebrated holy men and women. In this way they should be suitable for any Christian or, indeed, for anyone who yearns to move closer to the universal truth and force of life, which is God. Here is found that simple, yet eternal, discovery: all life is one.
There are three meditations to help you examine your life in preparation for Ash Wednesday so that you become aware of how you may have displeased God. We need to remember here that to displease God is, in the end, to displease our true self. This makes us unhappy, so Continue reading How to Use these Meditations→
We are reminded on this day, which begins the season of Lent, that we come from dust, the ash of this earth, and we return to it. No one escapes this ending. This should bring a deep sense of humility and thankfulness to God for the days of life you have been given. But it is also a reminder that none should delay reconciliation with God, because death can come at any hour. Therefore, we should not postpone following the path of Christ if we hope for eternal reunion with God, because time is really not on our side.
For many years I lived as a hermit in the mountains of the Pyrenees in France. It was there that I started writing the story of Banios-sur-Ange. Maybe it was the storms that inspired me or the great eagles riding the wind. Maybe it was the meadows of wild flowers. Maybe it was because I got lonely and wanted company. In any case I started to write this story, The Cloud of Goodness.
The Cloud of Goodness
by Stafford Whiteaker
For years I had made my living as writer of non-fiction and here I was writing a story about a once-upon-a-time village lost in a far valley beyond the forests. A little history of vice, virtue and the devil. What I wanted, above all, was to get as close to my readers through this story as possible. That is the company and companionship I wanted. I wanted you to be part of my life. In short, I made this website so I could offer the story of the village of Banios-sur-Ange (Banios-by-the-Angel) to you, a place to meet where it all happened, a way of knowing each other, a way of saying, without you, the reader, I would not exist. Continue reading Without you, there is no me!→