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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

BENEDICTUS MOMENTS

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Friday, 27 January 2012

SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS (a tribute to Coptic Monasticism)


      
      
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C O P | N E T




   From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers
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Abba Ammonas  was asked, 'What  is the  "narrow and hard  way?" (mt.  7.14) He  replied, 'The "narrow and hard way" is this,  to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will, for the sake of God. THis is also the meaningof the sentence, "Lo,  we have left  everything and followed you." (Mt. 19.27)

It was said of  him that he  had a hollow  in his chest  channelled out by the ears which fell   from his eyes  all his  life  while he  sat  at his  manual work. When Abba Poemen learned  that he was  dead, he said weeping, 'Truly you are blessed, Abba Arsenius, for  you wept for  yourself in this world!  He who does not weep for himself here below  will weep eternally  hereafter; so it is impossible  not  to  weep,   either  voluntarily or  when   compelled  through suffering.'  [i.e. the latter suffering in hell]


It was also said of him (Abba Arsenius) that on Saturday evenings, pre- paring for the glory of Sunday, he would turn his back on the sun and stretch out his hands in prayer  towards the  heavens, till once   again the sun shone on  his
face. Then he would sit down.


   + + +



It was said of Abba Ammoes that when he went  to church, he  did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but onlly at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from himm as soon as he
had replied, saying  to  him,  'It  is  for fear that,  after edifying words, irrelevant conversation should slip in, that I do not keep you with me.'


It was said of Abba Ammoes that he had fifty measures of wheat for his use and had put them out in  the sun, Before   they were properly   dried off, he  saw something in  that place which  seemed to him to be  harmful so he said to his
servants, 'Let us go away  from here.' But  they were grieved at this.  Seeing their dismay he said to  them, 'Is it because of  the loaves that you are sad?  Truly,  I have seen monks fleeing,  leaving  their white-washed cells and also their  parchments, and they  did  not close the doors,  but  went leaving them
open.'


Abba Abraham told of a man  of Scetis who was a  scribe and did not eat bread.  A brother came to beg him to copy a book. The old man whose spirit was engaged in  contemplation, wrote, omitting  some phrases and  with no punctuation. The brother, taking the book and wishing to  punctuate it, noticed that words were missing. So he  said to the old man,  'Abba, there are some phrases  missing.'The old man said to him,  'Go, and practise first that  which is written, then come back and I will write the rest.'  [Scetis=Sheheet]

   + + +

There was in the Cells an old  man called Apollo.  If someone came to find him about doing a piece of work, he would set out joyfully, saying, 'I am going to work with Christ today,  for the salvation of my  soul, for that is the reward he gives.'

Abba Doulas, the  disciple  of Abba  Bessarion said, 'One   day when  we  were walking beside the sea I was thirstty and I said to Abba Bessarion, "Father, I am very  thirsty." He said a prayer  and said to  me,  "Drink some of  the sea water." The water proved sweet when I drank  some.  I even  poured some into a leather bottle for  fear of being thirsty later  on. Seeing this, the old  man asked me why I was taking some. I said to him, "Forgive  me, it is for fear of being  thirsty   later on."  Then  the old  man  said,  "God is here,   God is everywhere." '

A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, 'My thoughts trouble me, makingme put my sins aside,  and concern myself with my  brother's faults'.  The old man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, "Father, why are you weeping?" "I am weeping  over my sins," the old  man answered him.  Then his disciple said, "You do not have any sins, Father."  The old man replied, "Truly, my child, ifI were allowed to see my sins, three or four  men would not  be enough to weep for them. "

   + + +

This is what Abba Daniel, the Pharanite, said, 'Our  Father abba Arsenius told us of an  inhabitant of Scetis, of notable  life and of  simple faith; through his  naivete he was  deceived and said,  "The  bread which  we  receive is not
really the body of Christ, but a symbol. Two old men having learnt that he had uttered this saying, knowing that he was outstanding  in his way of life, knew that he had not spoken through malice, but through simplicity. So they came to
find him and said, "Father, we have heard a proposition  contrary to the faith on the part of someone who says that the bread which we receivve is not really the body of  Christ, but a symbol." The  old man said,  "it is I who have said
that." Then  the  old men exhorted  him  saying, "Do not  hold  this position, Father, but hold one  in conformity with that  which  the catholic  Church has given us. We  believe,  for our part, that  the  bread itself is  the  body of Christ as in  the beginning, God formed man  in his image,  taking the dust of the earth, without anyone being able to say that  it iis not  the image of God, even though it  is not seen  to be so;  thus it is  with the bread of which he said that  it is his  body; and so we believe  that it is   really the body of Christ." The  old man said to them,  "As long as  I have not been persuaded by the thing itself, I shall not be fully convinced." So they  said, "Let us pray God about this myster throughout the whole  of this week  and we believe that
God will reveal it  to us." The old man  received this saying  with joy and he prayed in these words, "Lord, you know that it is not through malice that I do not believe and so that  I may not err through  ignorance, reveal this mystery to me, Lord Jesus Christ." The old men  returned to their  cells and they also prayed God,  saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, reveal  this mystery to the  old man,that he may believe and not lose his  reward." God heard  both the prayers. At the end of  the week they  came to church on Sunday  and sat all  three on the same mat, the old man in the middle. Then their  eyes were opened and when the bread was placed on the holy table, there  appeared as it  were a little child to these three   alone. And when  the priest  put  out his  hand to
break  the bread,  behold an  angel descended from heaven with  a  sword and poured the child's blood into  the chalice. When   the priest cut   the bread into  small pieces, the  angel also cut  the child  in pieces.  When    they drew near  to receive the  sacred elements the  old man  alone  received a morsel  of bloody flesh. Seeing  this he was afraid and  cried out, "Lord,   I believe that this bread is your flesh and this chalice  your blood." Immediately the flesh which
he held in his  hand became bread, according to  the  mystery and he  took it, giving thanks to God. Then  the old men  said to him,  "God knows human nature and that man cannot eat raw flesh and that is why he has changed his body into bread and his blood into  wine, for those who receive  it in faith. "Then  they gave thanks to God for the old man, because he had allowed him not to lose the reward of his labour. So   all three returned with joy   to their own cells.'


   + + +


It was said of Abba Helladius that he spent twenty years in the Cells, without ever raising his eyes to see the roof of the church.


(Abba Epiphanius) added, 'A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need  has therein his  reward, and  because he is  ashamed, when he repays it he  does so in  secret. But it is the  opposite for the Lord
God; he receives in secret, but  he repays in the presence  of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.'


It was said concerning Abba  Agathon that some monks came  to find him  having heard tell  of his great discernment.  Wanting to  see  if he would  lose his temper they  said  to him  'Aren't  you that   Agathon who is   said to  be  a fornicator and   a  proud man?'  'Yes,  it  is very true,'  he  answered. They resumed,  'Arn't you  that Agothon who   is always talking  nonsense?' 'I am."  Again they said 'Aren't you Agothon the heretic?' But at that he replied 'I am not a heretic.'  So  they asked him,  'Tell us why  you accepted everything we cast you, but repudiated this last  insult.' He replied 'The first accusations I take to myself for that is  good for my soul. But  heresy is separation from God. Now I have no with  to be separated  from God.' At  this saying they were astonished at his discernment and returned, edified.

(Abba Evagrius) said; 'Take away temptations and no one will be saved.'

   + + +

An Egyptian brother came to see Abba Zeno in Syria, and accused himself to the old  man about  his temptations. Filled    with admiration, Zeno   said, ' The Egyptians hide the virtues they  possess and ceaselessly accuse themselves  of faults they do not have, while the Syrians  and Greeks pretend to have virtues they do not have, and hide the faults of which they are guilty.'

In a village there was said to be  a man who  fasted to such  a degree that he was called 'the Faster'. Abba Zeno had heard of him, and he  sent for him. The other came gladly.  They prayed and  sat  down. The old man  began  to work in
silence. Since he could not succeed in talking to  him the Faster began to get bored. So he for me, Abba,  for I want to go.' The old man said to him. 'Why?' The other replied,  "Because my heart  is as if it were  on fire and I do  not know what is the  matter with it.  For truly, this when  I was in the village  and I fasted  until the evening, nothing like this
happened to me.'  The old man said, 'In  the village you fed yourself  through your ears. But go away and from now on eat at the ninth  hour and whatever you do, do it secretly.' As soon as he had begun to act on this advice, the Faster
found it difficult to wait until the ninth hour. And those  who knew him said,  'The Faster is possessed by the devil.' So he went to tell this to the old man who said to him, 'This way is according to God.'

One day Abba Moses said  to brother Zacharias,  'Tell me what  I ought to do?'  At  these words the latter threw  himself on the  ground at the old man's feet and  said, 'Are you asking me,  Father?' The old  man said to him 'Believe me, Zacharias, my son, I have  seen the Holy Spirit descending  upon you and since then I am constrained to ask you.' Then  Zacharias drew his  hood off his head
put it under his feet and  trampled on it,  saying, 'The man  who does not let himself be treated thus, cannot become a monk.'


Abba Zeno said, 'If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even  his own soul,  when he stands and stretches out his hands  towards God, he   must pray with  all his   heart for his  enemies.  Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.'


   + + +


Abba Gerontius of Petra said that many, tempted  by the pleasures of the body, commit fornication, not    in  their body   but in  their   spirit, and  while preserving their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in their soul. 'thus it is  good, my well-beloved, to do  that which is  written and  for  each one to guard his own heart with all possible casre.' (prov. 4.23)


One day Abba  Arsenius consulted an  old Egyptian monk  about his own thoughts   Someone noticed this and said to him, 'Abba Arsenius, how is  it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this  peasant about your thoughts?'  He replied, 'I have indeed been taught Latin and Greed, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.'

Abba Elias, the  minister, said, 'What  can sin do  where  there is penitence?  And of what use is love where there is pride?'

   + + +

(Abba  Isaiah) said to  those  who were  making a  good  beginning by  putting themselves under the direction of the  holy Fathers, 'As  with purple dye, the first colouring is never lost.' And, 'Just as young  shoots are easily trained back and bent, so it is with beginners who live in submission.'


(Abba Isaiah)  also said that when there  was an agape  and the  brethren were eating  in the church  and talking to  one another, the  priest of Pelusia re-primanded them in these words, 'Brethren, be quiet.  For I have seen a brother eating with you and  drinking as many cups as  you and his prayer is ascending to the presence of God like fire.'

(Abba Isaiah) also said 'When God wishes to take pity on a soul and it rebels, not bearing anything and doing its own will, he then allows  it to suffer that which it does not want, in order that it may seek him again.'


   + + +

The old men said of Abba Agothon to Abba Elias, in Egypt, 'He is a good abba.'  The  old man answered  them,  'In comparison  with his own  generation, he  is good.' They said to him, 'And what is he in comparison with the ancients?'  He gave them this  answer, 'I   have said to    you that in  comparison with  his generation he is good but as to that of the ancients,  in Scetis I have seen a man who,  like Joshua the son of  Nun could  make  the sun stand still  in the heavens.' At these words they were astounded and gave glory to God.

(Abba  Theodore) said 'If  you are friendly  with someone who  happens to fall into the  temptation  of fornication, offer  him  your hand,  if you can,  and deliver him from it. But if  he falls into heresy and  you cannot persuaded him to turn from it, separate yourself quickly  from him, in  case, if you delay, you too may be dragged down with him into the pit.


A brother came  to Abba Theodore and began  to converse with him about  things which he  had never yet put into practice. So the old man   said to him, 'You have not yet found  a ship nor  put your cargo aboard it  and before  you have sailed, you have already arrived at the city. Do the work first; then you will have the speed you are making now.'


   + + +

Abba Theodore of Pherme  said, 'The man  who remains standing when he repents, has not kept the commandment.'

A brother said to Abba Theodore, 'I wish  to fulfil the commandments.' The old man told him that Abba Theonas had said to him, 'I want to fill my spirit with God.' Taking some flour to the bakery, he had made loaves which he gave to the poor who asked  him for them;   others asked for   more, and he gave them  the baskets, then the cloak he was wearing, and he came back to  his cell with his loins girded with his cape. Afterwards he took himself to task telling himself that he had still not fulfilled the commandment of God.'

The same Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, came to Scetis one day. The brethren who  were assembled said  to Abba Pambo,  'Say something to the Archbishop, so that he may be edified.' The old man said to them, 'If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech.'

   + + +

It was said about (abba Theodore) that, though he  was made a deacon at Scetis he refused to exercise  the office and fled to  many places from it. Each time the old men brought him back to Scetis, saying, 'Do not leave your deaconate.' Abba Theodore said to them, 'Let me pray God  that he may  tell me for certain whether I  ought to take my part  in the liturgy.' THen he  prayed God in this manner, 'If it is your will then I should stand in this place, make me certian of it.' Then appeared to him a column of  fire, reaching from earth to heaven, and a voice said to him, 'IF you can become like this pillar, go be a deacon.' On hearing this he decided never to accept the office. When  he went to church the brethren bowed before him saying, 'If you do  not wish to  be a deacon, at least hold   the chalice.' But  he refused,  saying, 'If you   do not leave me alone, I shall leave this place.' So they left him in peace.


Abba Theodore of Scetis said,  'A thought comes   to me which troubles me  and does not leave me free; but not being able to lead me to  act, it simply stops me progressing in virtue;  but a vigilant man would  cut it off  and get up to
pray.'

Abba  Theodor said,  'Privation of  food  mortifies the   body  of the  monk.'Another old man said, 'Vigils mortify it still more.'

   + + +

Amma Theodora said,  'Let us strive  to enter by the narrow  gate, Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter's storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is  only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.'

The  same amma said that a  teacher ought to  be a stranger  to the desire for domination,  vain-glory,  and pride;  one should not  be able  to  fool him by flattery,  nor   blind him by  gifts,  nor  conquer him  by  the  stomach, not dominate   him by anger;   but  hold   be patient, gentle   and humble as far as possible; he must be tested  and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls.

She  also said taht  neither asceticism, nor vigils nor  any kind of suffering are able to save, only true  humility can do that. There  was an anchorite who was able to  banish the demons;  and he asked  them, 'What makes you go away?'
'Is it fasting?' They replied, 'We do not eat  or drink.' 'Is it vigils?' They replied, 'We do not sleep.' 'Is it separation from the world?' 'We live in the deserts.'  'What power sends you away  then?' They said, 'Nothing can overcome us,  but only  humility.'  'Do you see  how  humility  is victorious over  the
demons?'

   + + +

It was said of Abba John the  Dwarf that he  withdrew and livead in the desert at Scetis  with an old man of  Thebes. His abba, taking a   piece of dry wood, planted it and said to him, 'Water it every day with a  bottle of water, until it bears fruit.' Now the  water was so far away  that he had  to leave in  the evening and return the following  morning. At the  end of three years the wood came  to life and bore fruit.  Then the  old  man took some  of  the fruit and carried it to the church saying to  the brethren, 'Take and eat  the fruit of 
obedience.'

It was  said  of Abba John  the  Dwarf, that  one   day he  said  to his elder brother,'I should like  to be free  of all care, like the  angels,  who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God.' So he took off hsi cloak and went away   into the desert.  After a  week  he came  back  to his brother. When he knocked on the  door, he heard  his brother say,  before he opened it 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am John, your brother.' But  he replied, 'John has become an angel, and henceforth he is  no longer among  men.' Then the other begged  him saying. 'It is I.' However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to  him, 'You are a man  and you  must   once agian work  in  order   to eat.' Then   John made a prostration before him, saying, 'Forgive me.'


One day   when  he was  sitting in  front  of the   church, the brethren  were consulting  him about their thoughts. One  of the old men who  saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, 'John, your vessel is  full of poison.' Abba John said  to him, 'That  is very true, abba; and  you have said that when you only see the outside, but if you were able to  see the inside, too, what would you say then?'

   + + +


Some brethren came  one  day to  test him to  see  whether  he would  let  his thoughts get dissipated and  speak of the  things of this  world. They said to him  'We give thanks  to God that  this year there has been  much rain and the palm trees  have been  able to drink,   and their shoots  have grown,  and the brethren have found manual work.' Abba  John said to them, 'So  it is when the Holy Spirit descends into  the hearts of  men; they are  renewed and  they put
forth leaves in the fear of God.'

It was said of him (Abba John the Dwarf) that one  day he was weaving rope for two baskets, but  he made it into one  without noticing, until  it had reached the wall, because his spirit was occupied in contemplation.

Abba John said, 'I  am lke a man sitting  under a  great  tree, who  sees wild beasts   and  snakes coming  against him  in   great numbers.  When  he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is  saved. It is just
the same with me;  I sit in  my cell and  I am aware  of evil  thoughts coming against  me, and when I have  no more strength  against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy.'


   + + +

Abba  Poemen said of  Abba John the  Dwarf that he had prayed  God to take his passions away from him  so that he might become  free  from care. He  went and told an old man this; 'I find myself in peace, without an enemy,' he said. The old man said to him, 'Go beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it  is by warfare that the soul makes progress.'  So he besought  God and  when  warfare came,  he no longer prayed that it might be taken  away, but said,  'Lord, give me strength for the fight.'

Abba John said, 'We  have put the light burden  on one side,  that is  to say, self-accusation, and we have  loaded ourselves with  a  heavy one, that  is to say, self-justification.'

He also said, 'Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues.' 


   + + +


Abba John gave this advice, 'Watching  means to sit in the  cell and be always mindful of God. This is what is meant by, "I was on the watch  and God came to me."  (Matt. 25:36)


One of the Fathers said of him, 'Who is this John, who by his humility has all Scetis hanging from his little finger?'


Abba John the Dwarf said, 'There was a spiritual old man  who lived a secluded life.  He  was  held  in  high estimation in   the  city and  enjoyed  a great reputation. He  was told that  a certain old  man, at the  point of death, was calling for him, to embrace him before he  fell asleep. He thought to himself, if I go by day, men will run after me, giving me great honour, and I shall not be at peace in  all that. So  I will go in the  evening in the darkness  and I shall escape everyone's notice. But lo, two angels were sent by God with lamps to give him light. Then the whole city came out to see his glory.  The more he wished to Flee from glory, the more he was glorified. In this was accomplished that which is  written: "He  who  humbles himself will  be  exalted." '  (Luke
14:11)


   + + +

Abba John the Dwarf  said, 'a house  is not built by geginning  at the top and working down. You must begin  with the fundations in order  to reach the  top.  They said  to him, 'What  does this saying  mean?' He said, 'The foundation is our neighbour, whom we must win, and that is  the place to  begin. For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one.'

Abba Poemen said  that Abba John  said that  the saints are   like a group  of trees, each bearing  different  fruit, but watered from  the  same source. The practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.


Abba John said to his brother,  'Even if we are entirely  despised in the eyes of men, let us rejoice that we are honoured in the sight of God.'

   + + +

The old man  (abba John the Dwarf)  said,  'You know that  the  first blow the devil gave  to Job was  through his possessions;  and he saw  that he  had not grieved him nor separated him from God. With  the second blow, he touched his flesh, but the  brave athlete did  not sin by  any word that  came out of  his mouth in that either. In  fact, he had within his  heart that which is of God, and he drew on that source unceasingly.'


An   old man came to abba   John's cell and   found  him asleep  with an angel standing above him, fanning him. Seeing this,  he withdrew. When jAbba John got up, he  siad to his  disciple, 'Did anyone  come in  while I was  asleep?'  he said, 'Yes, an old man.' Then Abba John knew that  this old man was his equal, and that he had seen the angel.

   + + +

(Abba Isidore) said,  'When I was  younger and remained  in my  cell I set  no limit to prayer; the night was for me as much the time of prayer as the day.'


Abba Isidore went one day to see Abba Theophilus archbishop of Alexandria and when  he returned to  Scetis the trethren asked him,  'What is going on in the city?' But he said to them, 'Truly, brothers, I did not see the face of anyone there, except that of the archbishop.' Hearing this they were very anxious and said to him, 'Has there  been a disaster  there, then, abba?'  He said 'Not at all,  but the thought  of looking at  anyone did not get the  better of me' At these   words they  were  filled with   admiration,  and strengthened in their intention of guarding kthe eyes from all distraction.

(Abba Isidore  of Pelusia) said,  'Prize virtues  and  do not be the  slave of glory; for the former are immortal, while the latter soon fades.'


He also said, 'The  heights  of humility are  great  and so are the  depths of boasting;  I  advise you to attend  to  the  first and not  to  fall  into the second.'


   + + +


Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba as far as  I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I  purify my thoughts.  What else can   I do?' then the old  man stood up and stretched  his hands towards  heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'


(Abba James) said, 'Just as a lamp lights up a  dark room, so  the fear of God when it  penetrates the heart of a  man illuminates him,  teaching him all the virtues and commandments of God.'

He also said, 'We do not need words only, for, at the  present time, there are many words  among men, but  we need works,  for this is  what is required, not words which do not bear fruit.'


   + + +

Abba John of the Cells told us this story: 'There was in Egypt a very rich and beautiful courtesan, to whom  noble and powerful people came.  Now one day she happened to be near the church and she wanted  to go in.  The sub- deacon, who was standing at the  doors, would not allow her  to enter saying, "You are not worthy to enter the house of God,j jfor you  are impure." The Bishop heard the noise of their argument and came out. Then the courtesan said to him, "He will not let me enter the church." So the Bishop said to her,  "You are not allowed to enter it, for you are not pure."  She was filled  with compunction and said to him, "Henceforth I will not commit fornication any  more." The jbishop said to her, "If you bring your wealth here, I shall know that  you will not commit fornication any more." She brought  her wealth and  the bishop burnt it all in the  fire. Then she  went into the  church, weeping  and  saying, "If this has happened to  me  below, what  would I not   have suffered above?" So  she  was converted and became a vessel of election.'


(Abba Isidore  the priest)  said, 'If you  fast regularly,  do not be inflated with pride, but if you think  hightly of yourself  because of it, then you had better eat meat.  It is better for a man to eat meat than  to be inflated with pride and to glorify himself.'

It was said of Abba John the Persian thast when some evildoers came to him, he took   a basin and  wanted to  wash  their feet.  But  they   were filled with confusion, and began to do penance.


   + + +


From Palistine, Abba   Hilarion went to the mountain   to  abba Anthony.  Abba Anthony  said to him,  'You are welcome,   torch which awakens  the day.' Abba Hilarion said, 'Peace to you, pillar of light, giving light to the world.'

The holy Fathers were making predictions about the  last generation. They said, "What have we ourselves done?' One of  them, the great abba Ischyrion replied,  'We  ourselves have fulfilled  the commandments of  God.'  The others replied, 'And those who come after us, what will they do?' He said, 'They will struggle to achieve half our works.' They said, 'And to those who come after them, what will happen?' He said,  'THE MEN  OF THAT GENERATION  WILL NOT  ACCOMPLISH ANY WORKS AT  ALL AND  TEMPTATION  WILL COME  UPON THEM;  AND  THOSE WHO   WILL BE
APPROVED IN THAT DAY WILL BE GREATER THAN EITHER US OR OUR FATHERS.'

Abba Copres said, 'blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.'


   + + +

One day,  the inhabitants of Scetis assembled  together to discuss Melchizedek and they forgot to invite Abba Copres. Later on they called  him and asked him about this matter.  Tapping  his mouth  three times, he  said 'Alas  for  you,
Copres! For that which God commanded you do,  you have put  aside, and you are wanting  to learn something  which you have not been  required to know about.'  When they heard these words, the brothers fled to their cells.


Abba Cyrus of Alexandria was asked about the temptation of fornication, and he replied, 'If you do not think about it, you have  no hope, for  if you are not thinking about it, you are doing it. I mean, he who does not fight against the sin and resist  it in his spirit will  commit the sin  physically. It is very
true that he  who is fornicating in fact  is not worried about thinking  about it.


   + + +

Some of the monks who are  called Euchites went  to Enaton to see Abba Lucius. the Old man asked  them, 'What is your manual  work?' They said  , 'We  do not
touch manualj work but as the Apostle says,  we pray without ceasing.' The old man asked them  if they did  not eat and they replied  they did. So he said to
them  "'When you are eating, who  prays for you then?' Again  he asked them if they did  not sleep and they replied  they did. and he said  to them, 'When you are a asleep, who prays for you  then?' They could not find  any answer to give
him. He said  to them, 'Forgive me, but  you do not act as  you speak. I  will show you how, while doing my manual work, I pray  without interruption. I sit down with God, soaking my  reeds and plaiting  my ropes, and  I say "God, have mercy on me, according  to your great goodness and  according to the multitude of your mercies,  save me from my sins."  ' So he  asked them if this were not prayer and they replied it was. Then he said  to them, 'So  when I shave spend the whole  day working and praying, making  thirteen  pieces of money  more or less,  I put two pieces of  money outside the door and  I pay for my food with the rest of the mony. He who takes the two pieces of maney prays for me when I am eating and when I  am sleeping; so   , by the  grace of  God, I fulfil  the precept to pray without ceasing.'


   + + +


They said of Abba Macarius the Great  that he became, as it  is written, a god upon  earth, because, just as God  protects the world,  so Abba Macarius would cover the faults which he saw, as though he did  not see them; and those which he heard, as though he did not hear them.

   + + +

The angel when giving the  rules of monasticism  to St. Pachomius said to him: "... He  laid down that   in the course   of the day   they should make twelve prayers, and  at  the lamp-lighting  time twelve, and   in  the nightly vigils twelve, and at the ninth hour  three. When the multitude goes  to eat, he laid down that a psalm should be sung before each prayer.  As Pachomius objected to the angel that the prayer were too few ..."


   + + +


The same Abba  Macarius while he  was in Egypt discovered a  man who owned  a beast of burden  engaged in plundering Macarius' goods.  So he came up to  the thief as if he was a stranger and he helped him to load the animal. He saw him off in great peace of soul saying,  'We have brought  nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of  the world.' (1Tim.6.7)  'The Lord gave and
the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' (Job 1.21)

Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should one pray?' The  old man said 'There is no need at all to make long discourses; it  is enough to  stretch out one's hands and say, "Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy." And if the conflict grows fiercer say, "Lord, help!" He knows very well what we  need and he shows us his mercy.'

A brother went to Abba  Matoes and said to him,  'How is it  that the monks of Scetis  did more thatn  the Scriptures  required in loving  their enemies more than themselves?' Abba Matoes said to him, 'As  for me I  have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.'

   + + +

It was said  of Abba Silvanus  that at Scetis he had  a dijsciple called  Mark whose obedience was great.  He was a scribe. The  old man loved him because of his  obedience. He had  eleven other disciples  who were hurt because he loved him more than them. When  they knew this,  the elders were  sorry about it and they came one day  to him to  reproach him about  it. Taking them with him, he went to knock at each  cell, saying, 'Brother  so  and so,  come here; I  need you,' but none of them came immediately. Coming to Mark's cell, he knocked and said, 'Mark.' Hearing the  old man's voice,  he jumped up immediately  and the old man sent him off to serve and said to the elders,  'Fathers, where are the other brothers?'  Then he went  into Mark's  cell and picked   up his book and noticed  that he had  begun to write  the letter  'omega' ["w"] but when he had heard  the old man,  he had not  finished writing it.   Then  the elders said,  'Truly, abba, he whom you love, we love too and God loves him.'


   + + +

Abba Poemen said of Abba Nisterus that he was like the  serpent of brass which Moses made for the healing of the people:  he possessed all virtue and without speaking, he healed everyone.

Abba Xanthias said,  'The thief was on  the  cross and he  was  justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number jof the apostles lost all his labour in one single night  and descended from  heaven to hell. Therefore,
let no-one boast of  his good works,  for all  those  who trust  in themselves fall.'

(Abba Poemen) said, 'The beginning of evil is heedlessness.'


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  _|_    This article is one  of many more articles  about the  Coptic Orthodx Church, the Christian Apostolic Church of Egypt. These articles can be obtained electronically from  Copt-Net Repository,  using anonymous FTPCOP |NET  from pharos.bu.edu:CN.  Please mail inquiries to CN-request@cs.bu.edu.
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source:  http://www.youtube.com/CopticMediaUK -----------------------
Bishop Angaelos and Bishop McDonald The Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Most Rev Kevin McDonald and the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos marked the Week of Christian Unity today, with the launch of the first book compiled by the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum: 'Joint Statements between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches'. The book includes statements by Pope Benedict XVI and by the leadership of the Syrian, Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches. It aims to increase ecumenical cooperation and raise people's awareness on Catholic and Oriental Orthodox similarities, rather than differences. Speaking at the launch at the offices of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Bishop Angaelos, who co-chairs Forum with Archbishop McDonald, said: "We're facing serious threats of increased secularism and marginalization of religion in general and Christianity in particular. As members of first century churches we really need to both live and introduce people to the wealth, meaning and value of what it means to witness and live our Christianity today. "It's very easy to become theoretical about theology and forget that we are talking about our faith in the incarnate word, in salvation and in the presence of God. We forget to speak in communion of what we can have in common." Bishop Angaelos gave the example of the time he sent a letter of support to the Catholic Church during the adoption issue a few years ago because of the common stance. "When you're in a dialogue, it's not about compromise, its about reaching deeply into the Biblical routes in such a way that convergence can be developed," said Archbishop McDonald. "The purpose of publishing this book is precisely to engage people in this process at a local, grass-root level. "We're not talking about agreed statements from theologians that have yet to be ratified," said the Archbishop of Southwark. "We're talking about agreed statements to which the Catholic Church is already committed." "These differences will be resolved because Christ makes one promise about one flock and one shepherd and we will be unified one day," said Bishop Angaelos."We have a lot in common, which far outweighs our differences. "We have so much happening this year with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee so there needs to be a very clear Christian voice. Also, if our faithfuls don't see us working together, it's pointless to preach about love, forgiveness and acceptance from the pulpits." The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church said he also hopes to have shared prayer gatherings in the future to get more people involved. Other members of the Forum attending were Abba Seraphim; His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannesian; Mgr Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham; Mgr Paul Hendriks, Auxilary Bishop of Southwark, and Father Peter Farrington (co-Secretary).
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