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

THERE was a certain desert monk who was very anxious to find a quiet place which would be suitable for him to dwell in; and there was there a certain old man who had a cell nigh unto him, and he entreated him, saying, “Come, take up thine abode here until thou canst find a cell [suitable for thee,]” and he went [there]. Now the brethren used to come unto him as unto a stranger, and they brought him food in order that they might be helped [by so doing], and he rejoiced in them and gave them relief. Then the old man began to envy him, and to heap abuse on him, saying, “Behold, how many are the years wherein I have lived here in the strictest abstinence, and yet no man came unto me; yet unto this deceiver who hath only passed a few days here many come!” And this old man said unto his disciple, “Go and say unto him, ‘Depart from that place, for I have need both of the place and of the cell’ ” And his disciple went and said unto him, “My father, speak some words and pray thou for me because I am greatly vexed by my stomach”; then he came to his master and said unto him, “He said unto me, I see a cell and I am going forth.’ ”

And after two days the old man sent his disciple unto him again, and he said unto him, “If thou hast not departed I will come myself and drive thee out with a stick.” And the disciple came to the monk and said unto him, “My father hath heard that thou art sick and he is greatly grieved, and he hath sent me to visit thee”; and the monk said unto him, “Through thy prayers [all is] well.” And the disciple came and said to his master, “I have spoken to him, and he said unto me, ‘Wait until the first day of the week, and I will, by the Will of God, go forth.’ ” And when the first day of the week had come the monk had not departed, and the old man took a stick and was going forth to beat him, and to drive him out; but his disciple said unto him, “Let me go first, lest there be there some stranger who will be offended at thine act.” And having gone before his master the disciple said unto the monk, “Behold, my father hath come to entreat thee [to leave] and to take thee to his cell”; and when the monk heard of the old man’s love he made haste to go out to meet him, and he expressed his sorrow afar off, and said, “Be not vexed, O my lord and father, for I was coming to thy holiness; forgive me for the sake of Jesus.” And God saw the work of that disciple, and He opened the mind of the old man, and he threw away his stick and ran to salute the monk; and having drawn nigh unto him he gave him the salutation of peace, and took him into his cell. Now the stranger had heard nothing whatsoever of the words which had been said by the old man. Then the old man said unto his disciple, “Peradventure thou didst say unto the monk that which I said unto thee?” And the disciple said unto him, “Nay, father, I did not”; and the old man rejoiced greatly, and he brought him in to the stranger and treated him kindly. And the old man knew that what had taken place in him had been caused by the working of Satan, and he fell down before his disciple and said, “Henceforward thou shalt be my father, and I will be thy disciple, for through thy good works, after God, thou hast helped the souls of two [men].”








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