Monday, January 26, 2009

Flee from

discussions of dogma as from an unruly lion; and never embark upon them yourself, either with those raised in the Church, or with strangers.

Isaac the Syrian, in Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Neither greive,

nor be sad, beloved soul, that you have suffered unjustly, for it behooves you to accept all for your benefit.

St. Maximus the Greek, in his autobiography

Monday, January 12, 2009

A brother from Abba Poemen’s neighbourhood

met an anchorite.... The brother told him about Abba Poemen. When he heard of his virtue, the anchorite wanted to see him.... [and] said to him, ‘Please will you be so kind as to take me to Abba Poemen.’ So he brought him to the old man... So Abba Poemen received him with joy. They greeted one another and sat down.

The visitor began to speak of the Scriptures, of spiritual and of heavenly things. But Abba Poemen turned his face away and answered nothing. Seeing that he did not speak to him, the other went away deeply grieved and said to the brother who had brought him, ‘I have made this long journey in vain. For I have come to see the old man, and he does not wish to speak to me.’

Then the brother went inside to Abba Poemen and said to him, ‘Abba, this great man who has so great a reputation in his own country has come here because of you. Why did you not speak to him?’ The old man said, ‘He is great and speaks of heavenly things and I am lowly and speak of earthly things. If he had spoken of the passions of the soul, I should have replied, but he speaks to me of spiritual things and I know nothing about that.’ Then the brother came out and said to the visitor, ‘The old man does not readily speak of the Scriptures, but if anyone consults him about the passions of the soul, he replies.’

Filled with compunction, the visitor returned to the old man and said to him, ‘What should I do, Abba, for the passions of the soul master me?’ The old man turned towards him and replied joyfully, ‘This time, you come as you should. Now open your mouth concerning this and I will fill it with good things.’ Greatly edified, the other said to him, ‘Truly, this is the right way!’ He returned to his own country giving thanks to God that he had been counted worthy to meet so great a saint.

Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p 167