HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







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

393. A CERTAIN old man used to dwell with a brother in a cell in a friendly manner, and he was a man of compassionate disposition; now a famine broke out, and the people began to be hungry, and they came to him that they might receive charity, and he gave bread unto them all. And when the brother saw that he was giving away large quantities of bread, he said unto the old man, “Give me my portion of the bread”; and the old man said unto him, Take [it],” and he divided [what there was] and gave him [his share], and the brother took it from him for himself. And the old man was compassionate, and gave away bread from his portion, and many folk heard [that he was doing this] and came unto him, and when God saw the generosity of the old man He blessed his bread; but the brother took all his portion and ate it up, and when he saw that his bread was finished, and that the portion of the old man was still lasting, he made entreaty unto him, saying, “My portion hath come to an end, and this [bread of thine is all] that I have; receive me as a partner [therein].” And the old man said unto him, “Good,” and he associated him with himself again. And when there was abundance [again], the people came to take [bread] from him, and he gave it unto them again. Now it came to pass that they lacked bread, and the brother went and found that bread was wanting, and a poor man came for some, and the old man said unto the brother, “Go in and give him some,” and the brother said, “There is none”; for he was filled with bread. The old man said, “Go in and search [for some],” and having gone in he found that the place wherein they used to set [the bread] was filled with loaves to the very top, and he took [some] and gave to the poor man, and he was afraid. Thus that brother knew the excellence and the faith of the old man, and he gave thanks unto God, and glorified Him.

394. Two brethren went to the market to sell their wares, and whilst one of them had gone to perform the service, he who was left by himself fell into fornication; and the other brother came and said unto him, “My brother, let us go to the cell,” but he said unto him, “I cannot go, for I have fallen into fornication.” Now whilst he was seeking to do better, the brother began to swear to him, saying, “I also, when I was away from thee, fell in the same manner, nevertheless, come, and let us repent together, and it may happen that God will pardon us.” And when they came to their cells they informed the old men about the temptation which had come to them, and whatsoever the old men told them to do the two brothers did, and the one brother repented with the other, just as if he had sinned with him. Now God saw the labour of his love, and in a few days He sent a revelation unto one of the old men concerning the matter, saying, “For the sake of the love of that brother who did not sin, forgive thou him that did commit sin.” This is what is meant by the words, “A man should lay down his soul for his friend.”

395. And they also say that there was a certain self-denying and ascetic brother who wished to go to the city to sell his handiwork, and to buy the things which he needed; and he called a brother, and said unto him, “Come with me, and let us go and return together.” And when they had gone as far as the gate of the city, the man of abstinence said unto his companion, “Sit down here, O my brother, and wait for me while I go in and perform my business; and I will return speedily.” And having gone into the city, and wandered round about in the streets, a certain rich woman tried her blandishments upon him, and he stripped off his monk’s garb and took her to wife. Then he sent a message to his companion, saying, “Arise, get thee to thy cell, for I can never see thee again”; now the man who had been sent to him with this message related unto him the whole matter, even as it had happened, and he said to the messenger, “God forbid that such things should be spoken about my holy brethren, and God forbid that I should depart from this place until my brother cometh, according to his word to me.” And having tarried there a long time, and ceasing not from weeping and praying either by night or by day, the report of him was heard throughout the city, and the clergy, and the monks, and the governors of the city entreated him to depart to his monastery, but he would not hearken unto their supplication, and he said, “I cannot transgress my brother’s command, and I cannot leave this place until we go back together to the monastery.” So he stayed there for seven years, being burned by heat in the summer, and dried up by the cold and ice in the winter, and with hunger, and thirst, and weeping and watching, he made supplication on behalf of his brother. Then at length one day his former companion himself came unto him, dressed in costly garments, and said unto him, “O So-and-so, I am he who was with thee the monk So-and-so, arise, get thee gone to thy monastery”; and the brother looked at him and said, Thou art not, for he was a monk, and thou art a man in the world.” Then God looked upon the trouble of that brother, and at the end of the seven years the woman died, and the brother who [had married her] repented, and again put on the garb of the monk, and went out to his companion; and when he saw him, he rose up, and embraced him and kissed him, and he took him with gladness, and they went forth to the monastery. Then that brother renewed his former ascetic works, and he was worthy of the highest grade of perfection. Thus by the patience of one man the other lived, and the saying, “A brother is helped by his brother, even as a city is helped by its fortress,” was fulfilled.

396. On one occasion two old men came to an old man, whose custom was not to eat every day; and when he saw them he rejoiced, and said, “Fasting hath its reward, and he who eateth for the sake of love fulfilleth two commandments, for he setteth aside his own desire and he fulfilleth the commandment, and refresheth the brethren.”

397. They used to tell the story of a certain brother who fell into sin, and he came unto Abbâ Lôt, and he was perplexed and confused, and was going in and coming out, and was unable to rest. And Abbâ Lôt said unto him, “What is the matter with thee, O my brother?” and he said, “I have committed a great sin, and I am unable to confess it before the fathers.” The old man said unto him, “Confess it unto me, and I will bear it”; and then the brother said unto him, “I have fallen into fornication, and I thought thou hadst discovered the matter.” And the old man said unto him, “Be of good courage, for there remaineth repentance; get thee gone and sit in thy habitation, and fast for two weeks, and I will bear with thee one half of thy sin”; and at the end of three weeks it was revealed unto the old man that God had accepted the repentance of that brother, and he remained with the old man, and was subject unto him until the day of his death.

398. Certain of the fathers came to Joseph to ask him a question about welcoming the strangers who came to them, that is to say, whether it was fitting for a man to forsake his work, and to be with them in the ordinary way or not; and before they asked him, he said unto his disciple, “Lay to heart that which I am about to do this day, and wait.” Then the old man placed two pillows, one on his right hand, and the other on his left, and he said unto the fathers, “Sit ye down”; and he went into his cell, and put on the apparel of beggars, and went forth to them; and again, he took this off, and put on the beautiful apparel of the monks, and he went forth again, and passed among them; and he went in again and took this off, and having put on his own clothes, he sat down in their midst, and they marvelled at the doings of the old man. Then he said unto them, “Have ye understood what I did?” and they said unto him, “Yes.” He said unto them, “What is it?” And they said unto him, “Thou didst put on first of all the apparel of beggars”; he said unto them, “Peradventure I have been changed by that disgraceful apparel?” and they said unto him, “No.” The old man said unto them, “Since I have not myself been changed by all these changes of raiment, for the first change brought no loss upon me and the second did not change me, so are we in duty bound to welcome the brethren, according to the command of the Gospel, which saith, ‘Give to Caesar the things of Caesar, and to God the things of God’ (St. Matthew 22:21). Therefore, whensoever strange brethren arrive we must welcome them gladly, for it is when we are alone that it is necessary for us to suffer.” Now when the fathers heard [these words] they marvelled that he had spoken unto them that which was in their hearts before they asked him, and they glorified God, and departed with rejoicing; and they received his word as if it had [come] from God, and they accepted what he had said, and did it.

399. They used to speak about an old man, who was from Syria, and who used to dwell on the road of the desert of Egypt, and whose work was as follows:—At whatever time a monk came to him he would welcome him. And it came to pass that on one occasion a man came from the desert and asked him to allow him to rest, but he would not permit him to do so, and said unto him, “I am fasting.” Then the blessed man was grieved and said unto him, “Is this thy labour, that thou wilt not perform thy brother’s desire? I beseech thee to come, and let us pray, and let us follow after him with whom this tree, which is here with us, shall bow.” Then the man from the desert knelt down, and nothing happened, but when he who received strangers knelt down, that tree inclined its head at the same time, and seeing this he profited, and they glorified God.

400. On one occasion Abbâ Ammon came to a certain place to eat with the brethren, and there was there a brother concerning whom evil reports were abroad, for it had happened that a woman had come and entered his cell. And when all the people who were living in that place heard [of this], they were troubled, and they gathered together to expel that brother from his cell, and learning that the blessed Bishop Ammon was there, they came and entreated him to go with them. Now when the brother knew [this], he took the woman and hid her under an earthenware vessel. And much people having assembled, and Abbâ Ammon, understanding what that brother had done, for the sake of God hid the matter. And he went in and sat upon the earthenware vessel, and commanded that the cell of the brother should be searched, but although they examined the place they found no one there. Then Abbâ Ammon answered and said, “What is this that ye have done? May God forgive you”; and he prayed and said, “Let all the people go forth,” and finally he took the brother by the hand, and said unto him, “Take heed to thy soul, O my brother,” and having said this he departed, and he refused to make public the matter of the brother.

401. There were two brethren who lived in the wilderness, and they were neighbours, and one of them used to hide whatsoever he gained from his work, whether it was bread or whether it was oboli, and place it with his companion’s goods; now the other brother did not know this, but he wondered how it was that his goods increased so much. One day, however, he suddenly caught him doing this, and he strove with him, saying, “By means of thy corporeal things thou hast robbed me of my spiritual goods”; and he demanded that he should make a covenant with him never to act in this manner again, and then he left him.

402. On one occasion Abbâ Macarius went to visit a certain monk, and he found him to be ill, and he asked him if he wanted anything to eat, for he had nothing whatsoever in his cell, and the monk said unto him, “I want some honeycakes”; and when the wonderful old man heard [this] he set out for Alexandria, and he did not regard this journey as a trouble, although [the city] was sixty miles away from them, and he brought the honeycakes to give to the sick monk. And this he did himself, and did not tell anyone else to bring them, and the old man thus made manifest the solicitude which he felt for the monks.

403. They used to tell the story of an old man who lived in Scete; now he had fallen sick, and wished to eat a little fine bread. And when a certain brother heard [this], he took his cloak and placed in it some dry bread, and he went to Egypt and changed it [for fine bread] and brought [it] to the old man, and the old man looked upon him and wondered. But the old man refused to eat it, saying, “This is the bread of blood, O my brother,” and the old men entreated him to eat lest the offering of the brother should be in vain, and having pressed him the old man was persuaded and he ate the bread.

404. The blessed Anthony never deemed it right to do that which was convenient for himself to the same extent as that which was profitable for his neighbour.

405. An old man used to say, “I have never desired any work which doeth good to myself and harm to my neighbour, and I have the hope that what is of benefit to my brother will be labour that is beneficial to me, and that it will be a thing that will invite a reward for me.”

406. A certain brother from the Great Monastery was accused of fornication, and he rose up and came to Father Anthony; and there came brethren after him from that monastery to inform him about the matter and to take him away, and they began to accuse him, saying, “Thus and thus hast thou done,” and the brother made excuses, and said, “I never acted in this manner.” Now Abbâ Paphnutius happened to be there, and he spake a word unto them, saying, “I saw a man in the river with the mud up to his knees, and some men came to give him help and to drag him out, and they made him to sink up to his neck.” And when Abbâ Anthony heard [him say this], he spake concerning Abbâ Paphnutius, saying, “Behold, indeed, a man who is able to make quiet and to redeem souls!” And the eyes of those brethren were opened, by the word of the old men, and they took that brother, and he departed with them to their monastery.

407. They used to say about Abbâ Theodore that when he was a young man he dwelt in the desert, and that he went to make his bread in the same place as the monks made theirs; and he found a certain brother who wished to make bread, but he had no one to do the work for him, and he was unable to do it for himself. Then Abbâ Theodore left his own bread and made that of the brother, and a second brother came and he made his also, and a third brother came, and he did likewise; and finally when he had satisfied them, he made bread for himself.

408. A brother asked an old man, saying, “There were two brethren, and one of them led a life of silent contemplation in his cell, and used to fast six days at a time, and to devote himself to great labour, and his companion used to minister to the sick; which of them will receive the [greater reward for] his service?” The old man saith, “If he who fasted were to raise himself up upon the works which are profitable, he would not find himself equal before God with him that visited the sick.”

409. There was a certain head of a monastery in a house of monks in the desert, and it happened that the brother who ministered unto him had a desire to leave the monastery, and he departed and dwelt in another monastery; now the old man was unwilling to let him go, and on this account he was always going to him to visit him, and he entreated him to return to his monastery, and the brother refused to do so. And for three whole years the old man used to go to the brother and entreat him to return, and finally he was constrained, and he departed with him. One day the old man told him to go out and bring in some fuel for the fire, and whilst he was gathering the firewood, by the agency of Satan, a stick stuck in his eye and it was put out; and when the old man heard of this he was greatly grieved, and being full of sorrow he began to speak to him words of good cheer. And the brother answered, and said, “Be not afflicted, O father, for I was the cause of this myself, for this hath happened to me through all the toil and labour which I brought upon thee when thou usedst to go and come to me.” And after a little time, when the brother had recovered from the sickness caused by the injury to his eye, the old man said unto him, “Go out and bring in some palm leaves from the ground,” for this was the work which the monks who dwelt there had to do; and whilst the brother was cutting them, once again, as it were by the agency of Satan, a stick sprang up in the air, and smote the man in the other eye, and it was put out, and he came to the monastery in grief, and he was perforce idle and useless because he was unable to do any work. Thus the old man was deprived [of a servant], and he had no one with him, because each of the brethren dwelt in his own cell. And after a short time the day of his departure, which he had known beforehand, drew nigh, and he sent and called all the brethren and said unto them, “The day of my departure hath drawn nigh. Watch ye yourselves, and take good heed to the service of your lives (or life’s work), and treat not lightly your ascetic labours.” And each one of them began to say to him sorrowfully, “Father, why art thou leaving us?” and the old man held his peace. Then he sent and brought the blind man, and revealed to him concerning his departure, and the blind man wept and said unto him, “Wherefore leavest thou me, the blind man?” The old man saith unto him, “Pray that I may have openness of face with God, and that I may find mercy before Him, and I have hope through His help, that on the First Day of the Week thou wilt be able to perform the service with thy companions”; and straightway the old man died. And, according to his word, a few days later he appeared unto that brother, and his eyes were opened, and he became an Abbâ and a head of monks. Now these things were related unto us by those who were acquainted with the period wherein the old man lived.

410. A certain man of abstinence saw a man who had a devil, and who was unable to fast, and he was exceedingly sorry for him; and by reason of the love for Christ with which he was filled, and because he not only took care for himself, but for his companion also, he prayed and entreated God that the devil might come to him, and that the man might be released from him. Now God looked upon his prayer and upon his good will, and saw that the holy man was carrying a great load on behalf of that demoniac, and since that brother began to prolong his fasting and prayer, and to practise continually self-denial, in a few days that evil spirit departed.

411. They used to say concerning Abbâ Poemen that when he was pressed by any man to go with him to eat at an unusual time, he would go, with the tears streaming from his eyes, so that he might not resist the wish of that brother and cause him annoyance; for he would forgo his own will, and he would humble himself and go.

412. There was an old man in the Cells whose name was Apollo, and when one of the brethren came to call him to work, he would go joyfully, saying, “I go to-day with the King Christ to work on my own behalf, for this is the reward of this labour.”

413. On one occasion Abraham, the disciple of Abbâ Sisoes, was tempted by Satan, and the old man saw him fall down, and straightway he spread out his hands towards heaven, and said to God, “My Lord, I will not let Thee go until Thou hast healed him,” and straightway Abraham was healed.

414. A certain monk was sitting by the monastery, and whilst he was occupied in great labours, it happened that strangers came to the monastery, and they forced him to eat with them contrary to his usual custom, and afterwards the brethren said unto him, “Father, wast thou not just now afflicted?” And he said unto them, “My affliction is to break my will.”

415. On one occasion three old men went to Abbâ Akîlâ, and on one of them [rested] some small suspicion of evil; and one of them said unto him, “Father, make me a net,” and he replied, “I will not make thee a net.” Then another said unto him, “Do [us] an act of grace, and make us a net, so that we may be able to keep thee in remembrance in our monastery”; and Akîlâ said again, “I am not at leisure [to do so].” Then the third brother, on whom [rested] the suspicion of evil, also said unto him, “Father, make me a net which I can possess [direct] from thy hands”; and Akîlâ answered straightway, and said unto this man, “I will make one for thee.” And afterwards the [other] two brethren said unto him privately, “[Consider] how much we entreated thee, and yet thou wouldst not be persuaded to make [a net] for us, and thou didst say to this man, ‘I will make thee one immediately!’ ” The old man said unto them, “I told you that I would not make one, and ye were not grieved, because I had not the leisure; but if I had not made one for this man, he would have said, ‘It was because the old man had heard about my sins that he was unwilling to make a net for me.’ ”

416. On one occasion three brethren went to harvest, and the three of them undertook to reap the harvest [in certain fields] together for a certain sum of money; but one of them fell sick on the first day, and was unable to work, and he went back and lay down in his cell. Then one of the two brethren who remained said unto his companion, “Behold, O my brother, thou seest that our brother hath fallen sick, let us exert ourselves a little, thou and I, and let us believe that by his prayers we shall be sufficiently strong to do his share of the work of harvest for him.” Then when the harvest was ended, and they came to receive their hire, they called the [sick] brother, and said unto him, “Come, brother, and take also the hire of thy harvesting”; and he said, “What hire can there be for me since I have not been harvesting?” And they said unto him, “Through thy prayers the harvest hath been reaped; come now, and take [thy] hire.” Then the contention between them waxed strong, for the [sick] brother contended that he ought not to receive [any wages], and they said, “We will not leave thee until thou dost.” So they went, that they might be heard by a certain great old man, and that brother answered and said, “O father, three of us went to harvest, but I fell sick on the first day, and went and lay down in my cell, and although I did not work even one day these brethren urge me, saying, ‘Come and take the hire for which thou didst not work.’ ” Then the two brethren said, “Three of us went to the harvest, and we took certain fields [to reap] together, and if we had been thirty we should have succeeded in reaping them with great labour; but through the prayers of this our brother the two of us reaped them quickly, and we said to him, ‘Come, take thy hire, because, through thy prayers, God helped us, and we reaped quickly,’ but he would not take [it].” Then the old man said unto the brethren who were with him, “Beat the board, and let all the brethren be gathered together,” and when they were assembled he said unto them, “Come, O ye brethren, and hear this day a righteous judgement,” and he related before them the whole matter, and they decided that the brother was to receive his hire, and that he might do whatsoever he wished [therewith]. And the brother went away weeping and distressed.

417. On one occasion a certain demoniac came to Scete, and having passed a long time there without being healed, he complained about the matter to one of the old men, who made the sign of the Cross over him, and healed him. But the devil was angry, and said unto the old man, “Now that thou hast cast me out I will come upon thee”; and the old man said unto him, “Come gladly, and I shall rejoice.” And the old man passed twelve years with the devil inside him, vexing him, now he used to eat twelve dates each day, and after these years that devil leaped out of him, and departed from him. Now when the old man saw that he was taking to flight, he said unto him, “To whom dost thou flee? Continue [with me] longer”; and the devil answered and said unto him, “By Jupiter, God hath made thee useless, O old man; God alone is equal to thy strength.”

418. The old man Theodore asked Abbâ Pambô, saying, “Tell me a word”; and with much labour he said unto him, “Theodore, get thee gone, and let thy mercy be poured out on every man, for [thy] loving-kindness hath found freedom of speech (or boldness) before God.”

419. A certain brother went to buy some linen from a widow, and as she was selling it to him, she sighed; the brother said unto her, “What aileth thee?” and the widow said unto him, “God hath sent thee this day that my orphans may be fed.” Now when that brother heard [these words] he was distressed, and he took secretly from the linen which was his, and threw it on to the widow’s side of the scales until he fulfilled an act of charity towards her.

420. A certain brother came to Abbâ ’Ôr, and said unto him, “Come with me to the village, and buy me a little wheat of which I am in need”; now the old man was greatly troubled at this, because he was not accustomed to go to the village, nevertheless, being afraid [of transgressing] the commandment, he rose up and went with him. And when they arrived at the village the old man saw a man passing by, and he called him and said unto him, “Do an act of kindness, and take this brother and satisfy his need,” and in this way he was able to flee to the mountain.

421. On one occasion Adlêp, Bishop of Neapolis, went to visit Abbâ. Sisoes, and when he wished to depart the old man made him and the brethren who were with him to eat in the morning; now the days were the first days of the fast. And when they had made ready the table to eat, behold, certain men from the plough knocked at the door, and the old man said unto his disciple, “Open to them, and put some of the boiled food in a dish, and set it before them to eat, for they have just come from labour.” The Bishop said, “Let it alone, or perhaps they will say that Abbâ Sisoes eateth at this time.” And the old man looked at the youth and said unto him, “Go, and give them the food”; and when the strangers saw the boiled food they said unto him, “Have ye strangers with you? Peradventure Abbâ is also eating with them?” And the disciple said unto them, “Yes.” Then they cried out and spake words of condemnation to the company, saying, May God forgive you, for ye have made the old man to eat at this time of the day. Perhaps ye are unaware that ye are causing him much vexation thereat?” And when the Bishop heard these things he expressed contrition, and said unto him, “Forgive me, I have behaved after the manner of a man, but thou hast acted like God.”

422. They used to say that, [on one occasion] when Abbâ Agathon came to the city to sell his handiwork, he found a stranger lying sick in the market, and he had no man to care for him, and the old man stayed with him; and he hired a room in the town and remained therein working with his hands, now [what he received therefor] he spent on the rent of the room and on the needs of the sick man, for a period of four months, and when the sick man was made whole the old man departed to his own cell.

423. And an old man used to say, “It is a defect in a man if, when he is reviled by his brother, or when any evil cometh to him from him, he cannot strengthen his love before he meeteth him.”

424. A brother was, on one occasion, sent from Scete by his Abbâ on a camel to Egypt to fetch palm leaves for [making]. baskets, and having gone down and brought the camel, another brother met him and said unto him, “Had I known that thou wast coming up I should have begged thee to bring a camel for me also”; and when the brother came and told his Abbâ what had been said unto him by his companion, his Abbâ said unto him, “Take the camel and lead it to that brother, and say unto him, ‘We have taken counsel, and we have given up the intention of bringing up palm leaves at present, but do thou take [the camel] and bring some up for thyself.’ ” Now the brother did not wish to accept the camel, but [his companion] entreated him [to do so], saying, “If thou dost not take him we shall waste what we have paid in hire for him.” So the brother took the camel and brought up his palm leaves. And after he had gone up to Egypt that brother took the camel a second time, and he came back that he himself might go up; and the brother said unto him, “Where takest thou the camel?” and he said unto him, “To Scete, so that we also may bring up our palm leaves”; and that brother repented and was very sorry, and he expressed contrition and said, “Forgive me, my brethren, for your great charity hath taken away my hire.”

425. One of the brethren said, “Whilst we were sitting and talking about love, Abbâ Joseph said, ‘Do we know what love is?’ And he said that Abbâ Agathon had a little knife, and that a certain brother came to him and said, ‘Father, the little knife which thou hast is pretty’; and Abbâ Agathon did not let him depart until he had taken it.”

426. Abbâ Agathon used to say, “If I could find an Arian to whom I could give my body and take his in its place, I would do so, because this would be perfect love.”

427. A brother asked Abbâ Muthues, saying, “What shall I do if a brother come unto me, and it be a time of fast or the morning, and I am in tribulation?” The old man said unto him, “If thou art afflicted, and dost eat with the brother thou doest well; but if thou dost not look at the man, and dost eat, this is a matter of thy will only.”

428. Mother Sarah used to say, “It is a good thing for a man to give alms, even though he do so for the approbation of the children of men, for from this he will come to do it for God’s sake.”

429. A brother asked Abbâ Poemen, saying, “If I find a place wherein there is pleasure for the brethren, dost thou wish me to dwell there?” The old man said unto him, “Where thou wilt not do harm to thy brother, there dwell.”

430. Abbâ Poemen used to say that whenever Isidore, the priest of Scete, used to address the brethren in the church, he spake the following words only: “My brethren, it is written, Forgive thy brother that thou also mayest be accounted worthy of forgiveness” (St. Luke 6:37; St. Matthew 6:14).

431. They used to say that at the beginning Abbâ Zeno refused to take anything from any man, and that those who brought him things used to go away sorrowfully because he would not be persuaded to accept them from them. And other men used to come and ask him to give them gifts as of a great old man, and they also went away sorrowfully because he refused to do so. Then the old man said within himself, “Those who bring go away in sorrow, and those who beg also go away grieving because they have received nothing; I will, therefore, act as follows: If any man bringeth me anything I will take it, and if any man asketh me for anything I will give it”; and he did so, and pleased every one.

432. The disciple of Abbâ Theodore said, “A certain man on one occasion came to sell onions, and he filled a basin with some of them and gave them to us; and the old man said to me, ‘Fill [the basin] with wheat and give it to him.’ Now there were two baskets of wheat there, one full of clean wheat, and the other was full of wheat which was dirty, and I filled the basin with the dirty wheat and gave it to him. Then the old man looked at me in wrath and anger, and in my fear I fell down, and broke the basin; and the old man said unto me, ‘Arise, thou art not akin to me, but I know well what I said unto thee.’ And the old man went in and filled his garment with clean wheat, and gave it to the man with the onions, together with his onions.”

433. A certain monk used to dwell by the side of a coenobium, and he was occupied in great ascetic labours, and led a life of hard work, and strangers came to the coenobium, and forced him to eat before his time; and afterwards the brethren said unto him, “Art thou not now afflicted, father?” He said unto them, “Although I am afflicted I have cut off my desire.”

434. A certain old man used to say, “It is right for a man to take up the burden for those who are akin (or near) to him, whatsoever it may be, and, so to speak, to put his own soul in the place of that of his neighbour, and to become, if it were possible, a double man; and he must suffer, and weep, and mourn with him, and finally the matter must be accounted by him as if he himself had put on the actual body of his neighbour, and as if he had acquired his countenance and soul, and he must suffer for him as he would for himself. For thus is it written:—‘We are all one body,’ and this [passage] also affordeth information concerning the holy and mysterious kiss.”

435. An old man said that the father had a custom of going to the cells of the new brethren, who wished to live by themselves, to visit them, lest one of them might be tempted and injured in his mind by the devils, and if they found any man who had been harmed they would bring him to the church, and would place a wash-basin full of water [in the midst], and when prayer had been made on behalf of him that had been brought there, all the brethren would wash themselves and then pour some of the water upon him, and immediately that brother was cleansed.

436. A brother asked an old man, saying, “If I find a brother concerning whom I have heard [that he hath committed] some offence, I never rest until I have brought him into my cell; but if I see a man who leadeth a good life I bring him unto myself gladly.” The old man said unto him, “Do that which is good twice over unto the former man, for he is sick, and he needeth help.”

437. An old man used to say, “Defeat cometh to a man if, when he is reviled and treated with contempt by his brother, he doth not shew him evenness of heart before he repenteth and asketh him to forgive him.”

438. There was a monk, and away on the mountain, which was about ten miles distant from him, was another monk; and the first monk had some bread in his cell, and he meditated in his mind and determined to invite the other monk to come and partake of his bread. And again he thought in his mind, saying, “Since the bread is with me I shall give my brother the labour [of walking] ten miles [if I invite him to come here], but it will be more helpful [to him] if I take one half of the bread which I possess, and carry it to him”; so he took the bread to carry it to the cell of the other brother. Now as he was journeying along, he tripped up, and fell, and injured one of his fingers, and as the blood was running down he began to cry because of the pain; and there appeared unto him suddenly an angel who said unto him, “Why weepest thou?” And the monk said unto him, “I have hurt my finger, and it paineth me”; and the angel said unto him, “Dost thou weep because of this? Weep not, for the number of every step which thou takest for our Lord’s sake is written down, and is estimated at a great reward (or hire) before Him, and the report of the labour of such things goeth up to Him. And that thou mayest be certain that such is the case, behold, in thy presence I will take some of this blood and carry [it] to our Lord”; and immediately the monk was healed, and with rejoicing and thanksgiving to God he set out again on his journey to go to his companion. And having come to him and given him the bread, he related unto him concerning the love for man which is found in the good Lord, the Creator of the universe, and then went back to his cell. Now after one day he took the other half of the bread and went to carry it to another monk. And it happened that he also was found to be burning with anxiety to emulate works of this kind, and he wanted to do even as the other monk had done; and having set out to go and carry the bread of the first monk, they happened to meet each other on the way. Then the first monk who had done good to the other monk began to say unto him, “I possessed a certain treasure, and thou wishest to rob me [of it]”; and the other monk said unto him, “Where is it written that the strait and narrow door is sufficient for thyself alone? Let us, even us, go in with thee.” Then straightway, whilst they were holding converse, the angel of the Lord appeared, and said unto them, “Your contending hath ascended unto the Lord even as a sweet smell.”

439. On one occasion, a certain excellent man, who feared God in his life and works, and who was living in the world, went to Abbâ Poemen, and some of the brethren, who were also with the old man, were asking him questions [wishing] to hear a word from him. Then Abbâ Poemen said to the man who was in the world, “Speak a word to the brethren”; but he entreated him, saying, “Forgive me, father, but I came to learn.” And the old man pressed him [to speak], and, as the force of his urging increased, he said, “I am a man living in the world, and I sell vegetables, and because I do not know how to speak from a book, listen ye to a parable. There was a certain man who had three friends, and he said to the first, ‘since I desire to see the Emperor come with me’; and the friend said unto him, ‘I will come with thee half the way.’ And the man said to the second friend, ‘Come, go with me to the Emperor’s presence’; and the friend said unto him, ‘I will come with thee as far as his palace, but I cannot go with thee inside’; and the man said the same unto his third friend, who answered and said, ‘I will come with thee, and I will go inside the palace with thee, and I will even stand up before the Emperor and speak on thy behalf.’ ” Then the brethren questioned him, wishing to learn from him the strength of the riddle (or dark saying), and he answered and said unto them, “The first friend is abstinence, which leadeth as far as one half of the way; and the second friend is purity and holiness, which lead to heaven; and the third friend is loving-kindness, which stablisheth a man before God, and speaketh on his behalf with great boldness.”

440. A brother went to visit a certain monk, and when he went forth from him, he said unto him, “Forgive me, father, for having made thee to desist from thy rule”; and the monk said unto him, “My rule is to refresh thee, and to send thee away in peace.”

441. On one occasion a command was given to the brethren who were in Scete, and it was said unto them, “Fast ye this week, and celebrate the Passover.” And it happened that some brethren came from Egypt to Abbâ Moses, and whilst he was boiling for them a little food, his neighbours saw the smoke [of his fire] rising up, and they said to the clergy, “Behold, Moses hath broken the command, and hath boiled some food in his cell”; and they said unto them, “Hold ye your peace, and when he cometh to us we will speak to him.” Now when the Sabbath arrived, the clergy, having regard to his great ascetic labours, said unto him before the whole assembly, “O Abbâ Moses, though thou dost break the command of men, thou stablishest [that of God].”

442. They used to tell the story of a certain brother who, when he was throwing away the handles of his baskets, heard his neighbour say, “What shall I do? For the festival draweth nigh, and I have no handles to put on my baskets”; and the brother went straightway and picked up the handles of his baskets, and brought them to his companion, saying, “Behold I have these, of which I have no need, take them and put them on thy baskets”; and he left his own work and completed that of his companion.

443. Certain of the old men went to Abbâ Poemen, and said unto him, “Dost thou wish us if we see brethren sleeping in the congregation, to smite them so that they may wake up?” And he said unto them, “If I see my brother sleeping, I place his head upon my knees, and I give him a place to rest upon”; then an old man said unto him, “And what dost thou say unto God?” Abbâ Poemen said unto him, “I say unto Him thus: Thou Thyself hast said, ‘First of all pluck the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou wilt be able to see to take the mote out of the eye of thy brother” (St. Matthew 7:3).








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com