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

A CERTAIN man among the holy Fathers saw in a dream the company of the holy angels who came down from heaven by the commandment of God, and one of them held in his hand a roll which was written on the inside and on the outside; and the angels said unto each other, “Who is fit to be entrusted with this thing?” Then some of them mentioned one man and others another, and others answered and said, “Verily these [whom ye mention] are holy and righteous, but they are not sufficiently [so] to be entrusted with this thing.” And having reckoned up many names of Saints, they finally said, “No man is fit to be entrusted with this thing except Ephraim”; and then they gave the roll to him. And when he had stood up in the morning, he heard that they were saying, “Behold, Ephraim teacheth, and [his words] flow from his mouth like [water from] a fountain”; then the old man who had seen the vision knew within himself that the things which were proceeding from his lips were of the Holy Spirit.

Now therefore this Ephraim, who was [one] of those who had been held to be worthy of mention by the saints, travelled along the spiritual road nobly and straightly, turning neither to one side nor the other of the straight path; and he was held to be worthy of the gift of the knowledge which he possessed naturally, and subsequently he received the knowledge which enabled him to utter divine things, and perfect blessedness. Thus he lived throughout the period of a certain number of years a life of chastity, and stern asceticism, and contemplation, and he edified all those who thronged to visit him, each according to his peculiar needs; and finally he compelled himself to go forth from his cell for the following reason, namely, a mighty famine lay over the city of Edessa. For having compassion on the creatures of the human race which was perishing and being destroyed, he spake unto those who were heaping up grain in the store houses, for he saw that they were wholly without compassion, saying, “How long will ye refuse to bring into your memories the lovingkindness of God? How long will ye allow your wealth, which is corruptible, to be the means of the accusation and condemnation of your souls?” Then they took counsel, and said unto him, “There is no man whatsoever whom we can trust to relieve the wants of those who are dying of hunger; for all the people are crafty and they act in a lying fashion concerning affairs” [of this kind]. Then Ephraim said unto them, “What manner of man do ye imagine that I am?” Now his character was held in the highest esteem by every man [in the city], and every man knew that he acted according to the truth and not falsehood. And the people said unto him, “O man, we know that thou art God”; and he said unto them, “Put your trust in me, then, and give me [the means of relieving] this distress, for behold, for your sakes, I will set myself apart to become the keeper of a house for receiving strangers.” And he took money, and he began to fence off in the streets places which were suitable for his purpose, and he provided with great care three hundred beds, some of which were intended for use in the burial of those who were dying, and others were intended for those who, it was thought, would live; and, in short, he brought in from the villages which were outside the city all those whom famine had stricken, and put them to bed, and every day he performed for them with the greatest possible solicitude the constant service of which they were in need, [paying for the same] with the money which came to him, and he rejoiced by means of those who supported him in the matter.

And it came to pass that, when that year of famine had been fulfilled, and there arrived after it a year of abundance, and every man departed to his house, inasmuch as he had nothing else to do he went into his cell; and after a period of one month he brought his life to a close, God having given him the opportunity whereby he might be crowned at the end of his life. Now he left behind him many books, and writings of various kinds, which were worthy of being preserved with the greatest care. It is said concerning him that when he was a youth he saw a dream, that is to say a vision, wherein a vine grew up out of his tongue, and it increased in size, and filled the whole of the space which was beneath the heavens, and was laden with grape clusters in rich abundance; and all the feathered fowl of the heavens came and ate of the food thereof, and all the time they were eating the grape-clusters were increasing both in numbers and in size.








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