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

THE disciples of Abbâ Bessarion used to relate the story of his life and deeds in the following words:—The mode of life of the old man was that of the bird of the heavens, and of the things which are in the waters, and of the creeping things of the earth, and he passed the whole period of his life in peace, and in tranquillity; for no anxiety [as to the condition] of his cell was ever present with him; and his soul was never occupied with the desire to live in certain places; and he never ministered during the whole course of his career to the satisfying of himself with food; and he never gathered together or laid up for himself possessions in clothes or books; but he was free from care about everything which concerned the body, and he rejoiced in the hope of the good things which were to come; and he was firm and immovable in the foundation of his faith; and he followed the ascetic life strenuously. He wandered hither and thither like one possessed, in the season of frost [he went] naked, and he was consumed with heat under the fierce rays of the sun, and at one time he lived among the rocks and at another in the desert. And if it fell out and happened that he came to districts which were settled, or to a place where a congregation of monks passed their whole lives together in the fulfilment of the rules of monasticism, he would take his seat contentedly outside the door of the monastery.

Now on one occasion, having arrived at a certain monastery, he sat down outside the door, and he wept and wailed aloud after the manner of one who had been saved from a storm [at sea]; and when one of the brethren had gone forth, he found him [sitting there] like any ordinary poor man or beggar, and having drawn nigh unto him compassionately he said unto him, “Wherefore weepest thou, O man? If thou hast need of any of the necessaries of life, so far as in my power lieth, I will give it unto thee. Rise up, then, and get thee inside the monastery, and comfort thyself with the blessed companionship of the table with us.” Then the blessed Bessarion made answer unto him, and said, “Until I find the possessions of my house which I have lost, and the numerous goods of the house of my fathers which I have lost in sundry and divers ways, I cannot live under a roof. For pirates fell upon me at sea, and a storm rose up against me, and I have been shorn of my riches, and from being a man of high degree I have become the object of contempt.” Now that brother was astonished at these words, and was grieved thereat, and he went in and brought out some bread, and gave it unto him, saying, “Father, take this, and the other things which thou hast mentioned, that is to say, country, and family, and riches, God shall restore unto thee.” But Abbâ Bessarion cried out the more, and with louder cries, and lifted up his voice and said, “I know not if I shall be able to find that which I have lost, and that which I seek, for as far as I can see they will be removed from me still farther. And I am afflicted daily, and am brought nigh unto death by reason of the violent storm of wickednesses innumerable which surround me, and I endure them and [rest] upon hope that, peradventure, I may be worthy of mercy in the day of judgement.”








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