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

ABBA MACARIUS used to tell a story about himself, and to say that when he was a boy he dwelt in a certain cell in Egypt, and that the people came and made him the priest in the village, and that as he did not wish to receive [the office of priest] he fled to another place, and took up his abode in a cell which was not very far from the habitations of man. And a certain young man who feared God used to come and take away the work of the hands of the blessed man, and to minister unto him. And it came to pass that, as a result of temptation, a certain virgin in the village fell into iniquity (?), and conceived a child, and the folk said unto her, “By whom art thou with child?” And she said, “By that monk who liveth in the desert”; and they went out, and brought him into their village, and smote him sorely, and they hung round his neck black pots, and the ears (handles) of empty pans, and they made him to go round about through the markets of their village, and they mocked at him and buffeted him, and said, “This is the monk who hath seduced our daughter! Let him be hanged! Let him be hanged!” And they beat him [nearly] to death.

Then came one of the old men of the village and said [unto them], “How long will ye go on beating this monk who is a stranger?” and the man who ministered unto him came after him, and he was ashamed and pained because of his disgrace; and the people fastened their gaze upon him, and said, “Behold the monk concerning whom thou didst bear witness and say that he was a ‘holy man.’ ” “Consider what he hath done,” said the parents of the young woman, “and unless he giveth us a surety who will provide for her food we will not release him.” Then he said unto the man who ministered unto him, “Give a pledge on my behalf, saying, ‘I will provide for that’ ”; and he gave a pledge for him, and then the monk went to his cell and gave him all the palm-leaf mats thereof, and said to him, “Sell these and give [the money] to my wife that she may eat.” For Macarius said in his mind, “Behold, thou hast found for thyself a wife, and it is necessary for thee to work little or much that thou mayest feed her”; so he worked by night and by day, and sent [the proceeds of his toil] to her.

And it came to pass that, when the time for the woman to bring forth her child arrived, she suffered very severely for many days, and [although] she was in great tribulation she did not give birth to the child; and when her parents saw this they said unto her, “What is this which hath happened unto thee?” Then the woman, by reason of her pains and sufferings, said, “This has happened because I told a lie and falsely accused a monk who never touched me”; now it was such and such a youth who had done this thing to her. And when the man who ministered unto Macarius learned this, he came to him with gladness, and he rejoiced and said unto him, “The virgin was not able to bring forth until she confessed and said, ‘The monk never touched me, and what I have said about him is a falsehood,’ and behold, all the village is preparing to come to thee with repentance so that thou mayest forgive them.” And Macarius, in order that he might not be troubled by them, rose up straightway, and fled, and departed to the place wherein he had his abode at that time, and this is the reason why he came to Scete; and he said, “I hate the love of praise of young men who toil, and who have no reward, because they expect the adulation of the children of men.” Then another well-known old man said unto him, “And it is not greatly acceptable unto me, but it is better that they should work for praise rather than they should despise [it], for it always constraineth those who love praise to lead lives of abstinence, and to keep vigil, and to live in nakedness for the sake of vainglory, and to bear afflictions for the sake of praise.” Then after these things the Grace of God came to them and spake, saying, “Wherefore do ye not toil for My sake? And why do ye toil for the sake of children of men?” And they were convinced that they must not expect the praise of men but that of God, and when the brethren heard [this] they said, “Verily the matter is indeed thus.”








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