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

AND when Abbâ Pachomius had gone into the monastery, he found the brethren gathered together for prayer, and he drew nigh unto them, and said all the prayers; but when the brethren went forth to eat he remained in that chamber by himself, in order that he might recite to the end therein the prayers of the congregation according to custom. And he shut the door and prayed unto God that he might have information about the settlements which were to come subsequently to the brethren. Then having prolonged [his] prayer from the tenth hour until the time when the brethren beat [the boards to summon the brethren] to the service of the night, for he was praying until midnight, there suddenly appeared unto him a vision which made known to him concerning the settlements of the brethren subsequently, and shewed him that they would live rightly in Christ, and the increase which was about to take place in the religious houses. And he saw a congregation of brethren which was endless, and the men were making their way along a deep and gloomy valley, and many of them came with the intention of going up out of that valley, but were unable to do so, and many of them met each other face to face, but because of the great density of the darkness, they did not recognize each other; and many fell down through exhaustion, and others were crying out with the doleful voice of lamentation. Now a very few of them, with the greatest difficulty, and with much toil, were able to go up out of that valley, and immediately they had done so the light met them; and when they had come to the light, they gave thanks unto God mightily. Then did the blessed man know the things which were going to happen to the brethren in later times, and the absolute supineness which was to exist in those times, and the blindness of error, and the removal of the shepherds which was about to happen to them, and he knew that the wicked were to have dominion over the good, whom they were to vanquish through their great numbers, and that those who were to come afterwards would be mere imitations of monks. Now we set down in writing the memorial of these things lest the wicked shall be governors over the brethren, and those who are without knowledge shall have authority over the monasteries, and shall strive for the mastery, and the good shall be persecuted by the wicked, and they shall not have freedom of speech in the monasteries, and the divine things which have been said shall be turned to the things of men.

Now therefore, when the blessed man knew these things, he cried out to God with tears, and said, “O Lord God, Who dost maintain the universe, if it is indeed to be thus why didst Thou permit these monasteries to come into being? And if in those times those who are to be governors over the brethren be wicked men, what is to become of those who are to be governed by them? For when the blind leadeth the blind both fall into the ditch. I have toiled absolutely in vain! Remember, O Lord, my works, and those of these brethren, who submit to be governed with all their souls. Remember that Thou didst promise me, saying, ‘Until the end of the world I will allow this spiritual seed to exist.’ Thou knowest, O my Lord, that from the time when I put on the garb of the monks, I have never satisfied myself with whatsoever groweth upon the earth, not even with water.”








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