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

614. ABBÂ Sisoes said: When we were in Scete, with Abbâ Macarius, seven of us went up to reap with him, and behold, a certain widow followed after us gleaning, and she ceased not to weep. And the old man cried to the lord of the estate, and said unto him, “What is the matter with the old woman who weepeth continually?” He said unto him, “Her husband took a deposit of money from a man and he died suddenly without saying with whom he had placed it, and the owner of the deposit wisheth to take her and her children as slaves.” The old man said unto him, “Tell her to come to us at the place where we rest at the season of noon,” and it was told to her. And at the season of noon the woman came to them, and the old man said unto her, “Woman, why dost thou weep continually?” And she said, “My husband is dead. He had taken a deposit from a certain man, and he died suddenly without telling us where he had laid it up.” The old man said unto her, “Come [and] and show me where ye have laid him”; and he took the brethren with him, and went with her, and having arrived at the place where the man was laid, the old man said unto her, “Get thee now to thy house.” And after [she had departed] and he had made an end of his prayer, the old man cried out to the dead man and said, “O Such-an-one, where hast thou laid up the deposit which belongeth to the stranger?” Then the dead man answered straightway, and said, “It is hidden in my house beneath the leg of the bed”; and the old man said unto him, “Sleep now until the Resurrection.” Now when the brethren saw what had been done, they all fell down at his feet in fear; and the old man said unto them, “This hath not happened because of me, O my brethren, nor is the matter a great one, but God hath wrought this thing for the sake of the widow and the orphans; but what is great is that God desireth a soul which is pure and sinless.” And when they had come they told the widow that the deposit was laid up in such and such a place, and then the old woman brought it up, and gave it to its owner, and set free her children from slavery. And every one who heard [of this] gave thanks unto God.

615. When Abbâ Miles (or Manilius) was passing through a certain place he saw a man holding a monk by force as if he had committed murder, and the old man drew nigh and questioned the brother, and when he learned that he was being wrongfully accused, he said unto those who had seized him, “Tell me where is the man who hath been murdered”; and they shewed him. Then the old man drew nigh to the murdered man, and said unto all who were standing [there], “Let us pray”; and when he had spread out his hands in prayer before God, the dead man rose up. And the old man said unto him before every man, “Tell us who it was that slew thee”; and he answered and said, “I went into the church and gave some money to the elder, and it was he who rose up and killed me, and he carried me out and threw me in the habitation of this monk. I entreat you that the goods which I have given to him may be taken back and given to my children.”

616. On one occasion a certain man in the world went to Abbâ Sisoes in the mountain of Abbâ Anthony, and he had his son with him, and as they were going along the road his son died; now the man was in no wise disturbed, but he took him up in faith and brought him to the old man, and he came with his son, and fell down before him with his son upon his knees as if he was entreating him to bless them; and the father of the boy went out and left his son [lying] dead at the feet of the old man. Now the old man did not know that the boy was dead, but he thought that he was making supplication and entreaty to him; and he answered and said unto him, “Arise, and go forth,” and straightway without any delay whatsoever, the youth rose up and went out to his father, who, when he saw him, marvelled; and his father took him and went in and did homage to the old man, and informed him about the matter. Now when the old man heard this he was troubled, for he did not wish this thing to happen because of the praise of men; and his disciple commanded them not to tell the story before any man until the day of his death.

617. One of the fathers used to relate that Abbâ Paule, who dwelt in Thebes, would take snakes, and scorpions, and horned snakes in his hands, and kill them. And the brethren made apologies to him, and said, “Father, tell us through what labour thou hast received this gift.” And he said unto them, “Forgive me, O my fathers, if ye possess purity of heart, every living thing will be subject unto you as it was unto Adam before he transgressed the commandment of God.”

618. On one occasion one of the old men of Thebes came to Mount Sinai, and having departed from there, one of the brethren met him on the way, and with a groan he said unto the old man, “We are distressed, O father, through the want of rain.” And the old man said unto him, “Why do ye not pray and ask God for some?” And the brother said unto him, “We have prayed and made earnest supplication, and the rain hath not come.” The old man said unto them, “Then ye did not pray with all your hearts; do ye wish to know that the matter is thus?” And after [this] the old man stood up in prayer, and he spread out his hands to heaven, and straightway, without any delay whatsoever, the rain came; and the brother saw, and feared, and he fell down and did homage to him. Now the old man took to flight, but the brother made known everything which had happened, and when [the brethren] heard [thereof] they all glorified God.

619. They used to say that, when on one occasion, Abbâ Moses of Scete was going into Patârâ, he grew weary through the length of the road, and he was afraid and said, “How can I bring water for myself into this place?” And a voice was heard by him, saying, “Go on, and fear not.” Now one day a large number of the fathers came to him, and he had there only one vessel of water, and having boiled some lentiles the water came to an end; at this the old man was troubled, and went out and in, and prayed to God, and afterwards a great cloud came and poured down upon them much rain, and it filled all the vessels which he had with water. Then afterwards the fathers said unto him, “Abbâ Moses, tell us why thou didst come in and out”; and he said unto them, “I entered into judgement with God, who brought me hither because there was want of water, and because I had no water for His servants to drink; therefore I came in and out.”

620. The old man Joseph used to say: “I went on one occasion to Abbâ Poemen and found many old men with him, and behold, a certain man had brought a youth who was a kinsman of Abbâ Poemen, and whose face had been turned backwards through the operation of the Evil One; and when his father saw the multitude of the old men who were coming to Abbâ Poemen, he took him and brought him outside the door of the monastery, and sat down there and wept. Now when one of the old men had ended his business, and was going forth [from the building], he saw him, and said unto him, ‘Why weepest thou, O man?’ The father of the youth said unto him, ‘I am of the family of Abbâ Poemen. A trial hath come upon this youth, but we are afraid to take him to him, for he refuseth to see us, and now, if he learneth that I am here, he will send and drive me away; but when I knew that ye were coming here, I ventured to come also.’ And he cast the youth down on the ground at his feet, and wept, saying, ‘If thou wilt, have mercy on me, and take this youth inside, and pray over him’; and the old man took him and carried him in with him to Abbâ Poemen. Now the old man acted wisely in the matter, and he did not take the youth at once to Abbâ Poemen, but beginning with the last of the brethren who was there, he brought the youth to each and every one of them, saying, ‘Make the sign of the Cross upon this youth’; and having brought him alike to all the brethren and to all the old men who were there, finally he brought him to Abbâ Poemen, but the blessed man refused to touch him. Thereupon a contention arose, and they all entreated him, saying, ‘Father, do thou even as we all have done’; then Abbâ Poemen sighed, and he rose up and prayed, and said, ‘O God, heal that which Thou hast fashioned so that it may not be destroyed by the Enemy,’ and he finished his prayer, and made the sign of the Cross over him, and straightway the face of the youth was made straight, and he was healed. And Abbâ Poemen gave him to his father made whole, so he took him and departed with rejoicing.”

621. They used to say that the face of Abbâ Pambô was like lightning, even as Moses received the glory of the likeness of Adam, and that his face shone, and that he was like a king who sitteth upon his throne; and thus was it also with Abbâ Silvanus and with Abbâ Sisoes.

622. They used to say about one of the old men that as he was in the light during the day, so also was he [in the light] in his cell by night, and that he used to work with his hands and read in the night time just as he did during the day.

623. One of the old men sent his disciple to draw water, now the well was a very long way off from their cell, and that brother forgot to take the rope with him; and being distressed [thereat] he bowed himself in prayer, and he prayed and cried out, saying, “O well, my father [saith], ‘Fill this vessel for me with water, and without delay’ ”; and the water came up, and the brother filled [the vessel], and as soon as he had done so the water descended to its place.

624. On one occasion Abbâ Moses came to the well to draw water, and he saw Abbâ Zechariah praying to the stream, and the Spirit of God was resting upon him like a dove.

625. On one occasion one of the brethren went to the cell of Abbâ Arsenius in Scete, and he looked through the window, and saw the old man standing up, and all his body was like fire; now that brother was worthy to see this sight. And having knocked at the door the old man came out to him; and seeing that the brother was marvelling at the sight which he had seen, he said unto him, “Hast thou been knocking a long time? Peradventure thou hast seen something?” and he said unto him, “No; [I have not].” And Abbâ Arsenius spake with him and dismissed him.

626. They used to say that a certain old man said, “Verily, as he who worketh gold, and as he who maketh beautiful work, cleanly and at peace, so thou also by thy beautiful thoughts must inherit the kingdom of God; but I who have passed the whole period of my life in the desert have not been able to overtake thee.”

627. They used to say about a certain great old man, who lived in Pûrpîrînê, that when he lifted up his eyes to heaven he could see whatsoever was therein, and that if he gazed into the earth, he could see into the depths, and whatsoever was in them.

628. Abbâ John, who was cast out by the Marcionites, used to say:—On one occasion we went from Syria to Abbâ Poemen, and when we wished him to speak to us about hardness of heart [we found that] the old man did not know Greek, and there was no interpreter with leisure [to interpret there]. And the old man saw that we were troubled at this, and he began to talk to us in the Greek tongue, and at the beginning of his speech he said, “Water is by nature soft, and stone is hard, nevertheless if thou suspendest a vessel full of water above a stone, and wilt pour it out upon it drop by drop, it will wear away the stone. In the same way the Word of God is soft, and our heart is hard, but if it heareth continually the Word of God, the heart will be opened, and will turn to the fear of God.”

629. A certain monk lived in the desert, and there was another brother who lived in a cell by his side, and when he visited him from time to time he used to see him praying and entreating our Lord that the wild animals might be at peace with him. And after the prayer a panther which was suckling her young was found by him, and that brother went down upon his knees and sucked with them. And on another occasion the blessed man saw that brother praying and beseeching God to make fire to be at peace with him; and he lit a fire, and knelt down in the middle of it, and prayed. And that old man used to say, “If thou wishest to become a monk, bring thyself into subjection that thou mayest be in the congregation of the community, and mayest enter the monastery; but if thou canst not cast away from thee care concerning [all kinds of] occupations and affairs, thou canst never dwell in the congregation. All the power thou hast is over a bottle of water.”

630. And there are also wonderful things which the blessed Bessarion performed. He made the waters of the sea sweet, and Saul his disciple drank [of them]; he crossed over the water of the river; he prevented the sun from setting in the heavens; and the rooting up of the temples of the idols was revealed unto him. As they were going to John the Theban his disciple became thirsty, and Bessarion prayed, and water bubbled up, and he gave him to drink; and he healed also the young man who was a paralytic, so that he ran to his father; and he cast out a devil from a young man who was always asleep, and whom his parents besought him to wake up. I have, however, written down all these things in the history of the holy man Bessarion, wherein it is written that he was sitting at the door of the monastery and weeping bitterly.

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