Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


2 Entries

A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, "Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved." So the old man said, "Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead." The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, "Didn't they say anything to you?" He replied, "No."

The old man said, "Go back tomorrow and praise them." So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, "Apostles, saints, and righteous men." He returned to the old man and said to him, "Did they not answer you?" The brother said, "No."

The old man said to him, "You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too, if you wish to be saved, must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved." "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (New York: MacMillan, 1975), p. 132

One day, Macarius the Egyptian went from Scetis to the mountain of Nitria for the offering of Abba Pambo. The old men said to him, "Father, say a word to the brethren." He said, "I have not yet become a monk myself, but I have seen monks. One day when I was sitting in my cell, my thoughts were troubling me, suggesting that I should go to the desert and see what I could see there. I remained for five years, fighting against this thought, saying, perhaps it comes from demons. But since the thought persisted, I left for the desert.

"There I found a sheet of water and an island in the midst, and the animals of the desert came to drink there. In the midst of these animals I saw two naked men, and my body trembled, for I believed they were spirits. Seeing me shaking, they said to me, 'Do not be afraid, for we are men.' Then I said to them, 'Where do you come from, and how did you come to this desert?'

"They said, 'We come from a monastery and having agreed to gather, we came here forty years ago. One of us is an Egyptian and the other a Libyan.' They questioned me and asked me, 'How is the world? Is the water rising in due time? Is the world enjoying prosperity?'

"I replied it was, then I asked them, 'How can I become a monk?' They said to me, 'If you do not give up all that is in the world, you cannot become a monk.' I said to them, 'But I am weak, and I cannot do as you do.' So they said to me: 'If you cannot become like us, sit in your cell and weep for your sins.'

"I asked them, 'When the winter comes are you not frozen?' And when the heat comes do not your bodies burn?' They said, 'It is God who has made this way of life for us. We do not freeze in winter, and the summer does us no harm.'

"That is why I said that I have not yet become a monk, but I have seen monks." "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975, pp. 125-126

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