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

WHEN a famine took place in the days of Pachomius, and the brethren had no wheat, that is to say, when, so to speak, no wheat could be found in all Egypt, the holy old man sent to call one of the brethren that he might go round about in the cities and villages and seek for wheat to buy; and he gave him a sum of money for the purchase of the wheat, that is to say, one hundred dînârs. And having gone round about in very many places, the man who had been entrusted with this work came to a city which is called Armûtîn, and by the Providence of God he found there a certain governor of the state, who was an exceedingly reverent man and a fearer of God, and who had heard of the rule of the holy man Pachomius and of the brethren; now this governor was in charge of the wheat which belonged to the community, and the brother approached him, and entreated him to sell him wheat to the value of one hundred dînârs. Then the governor said unto him, “Of a truth, O my brother, if I had wheat of my own, or even some [belonging to] my own children, I would take it and give it to you, for I have heard concerning your godly and spiritual rule of life; but hearken unto what I am going to say unto thee. The wheat which hath been placed under my charge belongeth to the community, and as it will not be required this year by the prefect, if thou wishest to take it I have the power over the wheat of the community, and I will keep it back until the time cometh for it to be laid up in the granary; and if thou knowest that thou wilt be able to return it by that time, take as much of it as thou wishest.”

Then the brother said unto him, “I do not wish thee to act thus for me, for I am unable to return so large a quantity as that which I wish to take; but if thou wilt sell me wheat to the value of one hundred dînârs, at the price which thou wishest [good and well], but if thou art not in any way able to keep back the wheat which belongeth to the community until the time [for storing it] in the granary, thou actest rightly [in refusing me].” And the governor said unto him, “Yea, I have power to keep back the wheat, and not only wheat to the value of one hundred dînârs but, if thou wishest, another like quantity. If thou wilt take the wheat thou wilt do me an act of grace, only pray for me.” And when the brother said, “We have only this amount of money,” the governor hearkened, and said, “Have no care about this matter, for whensoever ye are able to bring me the price of the wheat do so, at the rate of [thirteen] ardebs a dînâr, and in no other place in Egypt wilt thou obtain more than five ardebs a dînâr.” And the brother journeyed by water to the monastery with great joy [bringing the wheat with him].

And when Rabbâ heard that a boat full of wheat was about to arrive, and the manner in which it had been bought, he sent immediately to the boat and said, “Ye shall not bring one grain of the wheat into the monastery, neither shall he who hath bought the wheat come into my presence until he hath returned it to its place; he who hath acted thus hath committed great wickedness. And not only this hath he done, but he hath also taken wheat to the value of one hundred darics more than [the hundred dînârs which I gave him], and I never ordered him to do this; but in carrying out his own desires he wished to have a superabundance, and having become inflamed by love of gain he hath brought us into subjection and laid us under condemnation. And moreover, he did not approach the generosity of the seller of the wheat satisfactorily, for he acted in a greedy manner, and he hath brought more wheat than he needed, and on his own responsibility he undertook to pay back that which we could never return. And not this only, for supposing that from some human cause an accident had happened, and the boat had sunk in the river, what could we have done [to make good the loss]? Should we not all have become slaves? Therefore let him sell all the wheat which he hath brought to the laity who are in this district at the rate at which he hath taken it from him that entrusted it to him, that is to say, at thirteen ardebs a dînâr, and after he hath sold them, let him take the gold and carry it to him that gave him credit. And with the one hundred dinars which are mine, let him buy wheat at the rate at which it is sold everywhere and bring it [to me].” And the brother did even as Rabbâ said unto him, and he brought the wheat which he bought at a rate of five and a half ardebs a dînâr. And from that time Rabbâ did not allow that brother to go outside the monastery on business for the brethren, and having made him to remain inside he appointed other brethren to render service of the kind.








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