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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] THERE was another of the old (monks) called Nathanael. I did not visit him during his lifetime, since he had fallen asleep fifteen years before my arrival. But when I met the men who lived with him and shared his life of asceticism, I made a point of inquiring about the virtues of this man. They showed me his cell, wherein no one dwelt any longer because it was too near the world; he had made it when the anchorites were few in number. They told this story about him as specially characteristic, that he stopped in his cell so perseveringly as not to be shaken from his purpose. [2] Among other things, having been mocked at the outset by the demon who mocks all men and deceives them, he seemed to feel a distaste for his first cell and went off and built another nearer a village. So when he had completed the cell and occupied it, three or four months after the demon came by night, holding a whip of ox-hide like the executioners, and having the appearance of a ragged soldier, and began cracking his whip. Then the blessed Nathanael answered and said: “Who are you who do such things in my dwelling?” The demon answered: “I am he who drove you from that cell. I have come to chase you out of this too.” [3] Knowing that he was the victim of an illusion, he returned again to the first cell, and in a period of thirty-seven years in all did not cross the threshold, having a quarrel with the demon; who showed him such wonders, trying to force him out, as it is impossible to relate. This is one of them. Having watched for a visit from seven holy bishops—either arranged by God’s providence or being one of his own temptations—the demon very nearly turned him from his purpose. For when the bishops went out after prayer, he did not escort them even one step. [4] The deacons said to him: “This is an act of pride, Father, not escorting the bishops.” But he said to them: “I am dead both to my lords the bishops and to all the world. For I have a hidden design and God knows my heart. Wherefore I do not escort them.” Having failed in this affair, the demon disguised himself nine months before Nathanael’s death and became a lad about ten years old, driving an ass laden with loaves in a basket. And having arrived late in the evening near his cell he made it seem that the ass was fallen and the boy crying: [5] “Father Nathanael, pity me and give me a hand.” Hearing the voice of the supposed boy and opening the door, he stood within and said to him: “Who are you and what do you want me to do for you?” He said: “I am so-and-so’s little servant and I am carrying loaves, for it is this brother’s agape, and to-morrow when Saturday dawns offerings will be wanted. I beseech you, do not neglect me, lest perchance I be eaten by hyænas.” For many hyænas are found in those places. So blessed Nathanael stood in silence with his brain in a whirl and his heart sore troubled and argued thus with himself: “Either I must give up the commandment, or my purpose.” Afterwards, however, considering that it was better for the confusion of the devil not to disturb the purpose of so many years, he prayed and said to the supposed boy that spoke to him: “Listen, boy! I believe in the God Whom I serve, that if you are in need God will send you help and neither will hyænas harm you nor any one else. But if you are a temptation, God will reveal the matter now.” And he shut the door and went in. But the demon, put to confusion at the defeat, dissolved into a dust-storm and into wild-asses jumping and fleeing and emitting yells. This was the conflict of the blessed Nathanael, this his manner of life, this his end.








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