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The Paradise Of The Holy Fathers Volumes 1 and 2 by Saint Athanasius Of Alexandria

ABBÂ Macarius, the Egyptian, once came from Scete to the mountain of Nitria to the Offering of Abbâ Pambô, and the fathers said unto him, “Speak with the brethren, O father.” And he said, “I am not yet a monk, but I have seen monks. For once when I was sitting in my cell at Scete my thoughts said unto me, ‘Go forth, get thee gone into the desert, and consider intently what thou wilt see there’; and I remained five years in struggling with my thought, and trying it, lest it might be from Satan. And since the thought continued with me, I rose up and journeyed into the inner desert, and I found there a fountain of water with an island in the middle of it, and the beasts of the desert used to drink therefrom, and I saw in the midst of the beasts two naked men; then fear took up its abode in my limbs, and I thought that they were perhaps spirits. Now when they saw that I was afraid they spoke unto me and said, ‘Fear not, we also are men.’ And I said unto them, ‘Whence are ye? And how have ye come to this desert?’ And they said unto me, ‘We were once in a large monastery, and the desire of both of us was the same, and we went forth and came here, where we have been for forty years. One of us is an Egyptian and the other is a Libyan.’ And they also questioned me, saying, ‘What news is there in the world? Do the waters of the river come as usual? And is the world flourishing?’ And I said unto them, ‘Yes,’ and I also asked them, ‘How can I become a monk?’ And they said, ‘Except a man make himself to be remote from everything which is in this world he cannot be a monk.’ And I said unto them, ‘I am feeble and I am not able to do as ye do’; and they said unto me, ‘If thou canst not [do as we do] sit in thy cell, and weep for thy sins.’ And I asked them, ‘When it is winter are ye not frozen? And in the season of the heat are not your bodies consumed?’ And they answered me, saying, ‘God in His Providence hath made us to be so that in the winter we do not freeze and in the summer we are not burnt up.’ And it was because of this that I said, ‘I am not yeta monk,but I have seen monks.’ Permit me [to be silent].”








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