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Author Topic: Quotes from the Desert Fathers  (Read 63598 times)
Shin
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« on: March 03, 2010, 02:45:59 PM »

We and our brother are two images; when a man is watchful about himself, and has to reproach himself, in his heart he thinks his brother better than he; but when he appears to himself to be good, then he thinks his brother evil compared to himself.'

'If you want to go to the monastery, you must be careful about every encounter and everything you do, or you will not be able to do the work of the monastery; for you will not have the right even to drink a single cup there.'

'When self-will and ease become habitual, they overthrow a man.'
 

'If a brother comes to visit you and you realize that you have not profited by his visit, search your heart, and discover what you were thinking about before he came, and then you will understand why his visit was useless.'


There was once a monk named Pambo and they said of him that he spent three years saying to God, 'Do not glorify me on earth.' But God glorified him so that one could not gaze steadfastly at him because of the glory of his countenance.
 

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 his 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, '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 again work in order to eat.' Then John made a prostration before him, saying, 'Forgive me.'

 
He said that the Fathers of Scetis ate bread and salt and said, 'We do not regard bread and salt as indispensable.' So they were strong for the work of God.

 
When your brother attacks you, whatever the insults are, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Even if he were to pull out your right eye, and to cut off your right hand, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Yet if he were to try to take you away from God, then be angry.


St. Poemen
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Shin
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2012, 11:57:48 PM »

And many more of these quotes in many threads. . .
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 05:04:36 PM »

The Virtue of Obedience:

Abba Pistus related that which follows: 'We were seven anchorities who went to see Abba Sisoes who lived at Clysma, begging him to give us word.

He said to us, "Forgive me, for I am a very simple man. But I have been to Abba Or and to Abba Athre. Abba Or was ill for eighteen years. I made a prostration before him and asked him to give me a word. Abba Or said to me, 'What shall I say to you? Go, and do what you see is right; God comes to him who reproaches himself and does violence to himself in everything.'

Abba Or and Abba Athre did not come from the same part of the country, yet until they left their bodies, there was great peace between them. Abba Athre's obedience was great, and great was Abba Or's humility. I spent several days with them, without leaving
them for a moment, and I saw a great wonder that Abba Athre did. Someone brought them a little fish and Abba Athre wanted to cook it for the old man. He was holding the knife in the act of cutting up the fish and Abba Or called him. He left the knife in the middle of the fish and did not cut up the rest of it.

I admired his great obedience, for he did not say, 'Wait till I have cut up the fish.' I said to Abba Athre, 'Where did you find such obedience?'

He said to me, 'It is not mine, but the old man's.'

He took me with him, saying, 'Come and see his obedience.' He took the fish, intentionally cooked some of it badly, and offered it to the old man who ate it without saying anything. Then he said to him, 'Is it good, old man?' He replied, 'It is very good.' Afterwards he brought him a little that was well cooked and said, 'Old man, I have spoiled it,' and he replied, 'Yes, you have spoiled it a little.' Then Abba Athre said to me, 'Do you see how obedience is intrinsic to the old man?' I came away from there and what I have told you, I have tried to practise as far as I could."'
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MidnightSun12
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 07:40:43 PM »

When your brother attacks you, whatever the insults are, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Even if he were to pull out your right eye, and to cut off your right hand, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Yet if he were to try to take you away from God, then be angry.
It seems that we get so bothered by even the smallest inconvenience of our worldly lives, but when we're subjected to immodest dress, foul language, or heresy (things that can have an eternal effect on us and our neighbours) our distaste for these things are so much more muted or even non-existant!
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 07:43:40 PM »

Yes, the upside down priorities the world inoculates us with!
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 09:47:40 PM »

It is good to hear from you MidnightSun! I pray you will have a great time here and enjoy the quotes! Welcome!

 Cheesy
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 09:49:53 PM »

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 care.' (Prov. 4. 23)

Abba Isidore of Pelusia said, 'To live without speaking is better than to speak without living. For the former who lives rightly does good even by his silence but the latter does no good even when he speaks. When words and life correspond to one another they are together the whole of philosophy.'

He also said, 'Vice takes men away from God and separates them from one another. So we must turn from it quickly and pursue virtue, which leads to God and unites us with another.

Now the definition of virtue and of philosophy is: simplicity with prudence.'

He also said, 'The desire for possessions is dangerous and terrible, knowing no satiety; it drives the soul which it controls to the heights of evil. Therefore let us drive it away vigorously from the beginning. For once it has become master it cannot be overcome.'
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2012, 01:01:47 AM »

"It was said of young John the Theban, a disciple of Abba Ammoes, that he spent twelve years serving the old man when he was ill. He stayed sitting with him on his mat. But the old man did not pay much attention to him, so much so that though he worked very hard for him, never did he say to him, "Salvation be yours.' But when he was at the point of death and the old men surrounded him, he took his hand and said to him, 'Salvation be yours, salvation be yours, salvation be yours.' Then he entrusted him to the old men saying, 'He is an angel, not a man.'"

Abba Agathon said: "I have never loved my brother only in theory, that is, without actually showing my love towards him. For me, love means to assist my brother, for I consider my brother's gain to be for me a fruitful work."

An Elder was once asked, "What is humility?" And he replied: "It is for you to forgive your brother who has sinned against you, even before he asks for pardon."

A brother asked another Elder: "What is humility of mind?" "It is to do good to those who cause you harm," the Elder replied. "But what if someone cannot attain such a level? Then what should he do?" The Elder replied: "Let him flee, preferring silence."

There was an Elder living in Egypt who always used to say: "There is no shorter road to Paradise than humility."

- the sayings of the Desert Fathers
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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2012, 01:04:57 AM »

Quote
He also said, 'The desire for possessions is dangerous and terrible, knowing no satiety; it drives the soul which it controls to the heights of evil. Therefore let us drive it away vigorously from the beginning. For once it has become master it cannot be overcome.'

Who does not know this to his own pain, I am thinking? I know it. It leads endlessly onwards, down, and down. . .

Quote
Now the definition of virtue and of philosophy is: simplicity with prudence.

Are not simplicity and prudence especially beautiful concepts?
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2012, 09:50:00 PM »

Living nearby an earnest brother, who constantly experienced God mourning in his soul, dwelt another brother.

One day when the latter was preparing to go down to the city, he said to his virtuous brother:

"My brother, be so kind as to take care of my garden until I return."

The other responded:

"Believe me, my brother, to the best of my ability, I will not be negligent."

When his neighbor had departed for the city, the brother said to himself: "Lowly one, now that you have time, attend to the garden." But he remained standing for his prayer rule from that evening until morning, and did not cease chanting and praying with tears for the entire day.

Returning late, his neighbor discovered that his garden had been destroyed by porcupines. With some bitterness, he said to the brother: "May God forgive you, my brother; for you did not attend to my garden."

The brother replied:

"Abba, God knows that I did my best to guard the little garden. I trust that He will grant the fruits thereof in time."

"In truth, my brother," replied the garden keeper, "it has been entirely destroyed and uprooted."

The earnest brother, wishing to console the garden keeper, told him:

"I am aware of what you are telling me, my brother. God, however, is able to make the garden bear flowers and fruit anew."

"Come, let us water it," said the keeper of the garden.

"You go and water it now," the brother answered, "And I will water it at night."

Another time, when it had not rained for quite some time, the garden keeper sadly said to the earnest brother:

"Believe me, my brother, that if God does not help, this year we will have no water at all."

And the brother replied:

"Woe to us, my brother, if the wellsprings of the garden run dry; then, indeed, we will not be saved."

Now whereas the garden keeper was speaking about the tangible garden, the other brother meant tears and the secret garden of the heart, which he watered and cultivated that it might blossom.
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2012, 03:45:28 AM »

'A certain man called Isidore, of magistrate’s rank, from the city of Alexandria, had recently renounced the world in the above-mentioned monastery, and I found him still there. That most holy shepherd, after accepting him, found that he was full of mischief, very cruel, sly, fierce and arrogant.

But with human ingenuity that most wise man contrived to outwit the cunning of the devils, and said to Isidore: ‘If you have decided to take upon yourself the yoke of Christ, then I want you first of all to learn obedience.’ Isidore replied: ‘As iron to the smith, so I surrender myself in submission to you, holy father.’

The great father, making use of this comparison, at once gave exercise to the iron Isidore, and said: ‘I want you, brother by nature, to stand at the gate of the monastery, and to make a prostration to everyone coming in or going out, and to say: “Pray for me, father; I am an epileptic.” ‘And he obeyed as an angel obeys the Lord.

When he had spent seven years there, he attained to deep humility and compunction. Then the glorious father, after the lawful seven years and the man’s incomparable patience, judged him fully worthy to be numbered among the brethren and wanted to profess him and have him ordained.

But Isidore through others and through my feeble intervention, implored the shepherd many times to let him finish his course as he was living before, vaguely hinting that his end and call were drawing near. And that was actually the case. For when his director had allowed him to remain as he was, ten days later in his lowliness he passed gloriously to the Lord.

And on the seventh day after his own falling asleep, the porter of the monastery was also taken.

For the blessed man had said to him: ‘If I have found favour in the sight of the Lord, in a short time you also will be inseparably joined to me there.’  And that is what happened, in witness of his unashamed obedience and divine humility.

When he was still living, I asked this great Isidore what occupation his mind had found during his time at the gate.

And the famous ascetic did not hide this from me, wishing to help me: ‘In the beginning’, he said, ‘I judged that I had been sold into slavery for my sins; and so it was with bitterness, with a great effort, and as it were with blood that I made the prostration. But after a year had passed, my heart no longer felt sorrow, and I expected a reward for my obedience from God Himself. But when another year had gone by, I began to be deeply conscious of my unworthiness even to live in the monastery, and see and meet the fathers, and partake of the Divine Mysteries. And I did not dare to look anyone in the face, but bending low with my eyes, and still lower with my thought, I sincerely asked for the prayers of those coming in and going out.''

St. John Climacus, 'The Ladder'
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 04:42:46 AM »

'And I cannot be silent about the story of Hesychius the Horebite.

He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul.

Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he left his body.

And when he came to himself he begged us all to leave him immediately.

And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water.

And, always remaining motionless, he was so wrapt in spirit in what he had seen in his ecstasy that he never changed his place but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears.

But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions this alone was all we heard from him: ‘Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin.’

We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transfigured by this blessed change and transformation.

We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not find them. So by his true and praiseworthy repentance the Lord showed us that even after long negligence He accepts those who desire to amend.'

St. John Climacus, 'The Ladder'
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2012, 01:14:54 AM »

A various selection of excerpts from the desert fathers. . .

Abba Bessarion said: "For forty years I have not lain on my side, but have slept sitting down or standing up."

This Elder passed his life like a bird of the air, without disturbance or anxiety; he acquired nothing on this earth, not even the slightest thing, neither books nor clothing, except for a single torn garment. He never went beneath a roof, but always abode in the open air, in desolate and uninhabited places, where he struggled against the cold and the heat. In this way he succeded in transcending the needs of the body.

An Elder said: When you sit down to eat, vanquish the demon of gluttony by delaying; restrain him and tell him "Just hold on, you will starve." Eat with decorum, and the more the demon of gluttony urges you on, be certain to eat all the more calmly. For, this is how he puts force on a man and goads him on, by making him eat everything at once.

From Gregory the Dialogist: A nun from the convent of which Equitius the Great was Abbot went to the garden, and seeing a head of lettuce, desired it.  And without even making the sign of the Cross, she voraciously ate it. Immediately an unclean spirit entered into her and cast her to the ground. Those who were thereabouts, on seeing this occurrence, quickly called for Father Equitius to come to the aid of the endangered nun.

Now the Father having come immediately to the garden, the devil that was thrashing the nun began to cry out and say in his defense, "What did I do? I was just sitting on top of the lettuce when she came and bit into me."

The man of God then angrily ordered the spirit to leave the nun and never again to enter into her.

Straightway the unclean spirit left her and never again dared to come near her.

Abba John the Short said: "If a king wants to capture an enemy city, first of all he deprives it of water and food (by laying siege to it), and in this way his enemies, perishing from hunger, are subjugated to him. So it is with the carnal passions: if a man spends his life in fasting and virtual starvation, the passions and the demons flee, enfeebled, from his soul."

Abba Poimen said: "When David wrestled with the lion, he grabbed it by the throat and immediately slew it. If we, then, grab our throats and our stomachs -- that is, if we flee from hedonism and gluttony -- then we will overcome the invisible lion, with God's help."

One of the Fathers said: "If someone insults you, bless him; and if he accepts the blessing, it will be good for both of you; but if he does not accept it, he will be chastised by God for his insolence, whereas you will be rewarded for your blessing."

From St. Diadochus: Just as when the doors of the baths are left continually open, the heat inside is quickly drive out, so also the soul, when it wishes to say many things, even though everything that it says may be good, disperses its concentration through the door of the voice.

Hence the soul, deprived of suitable spiritual ideas, loses the strength to struggle against thoughts and babbles with anyone it encounters. Since in this way (through loquacity) the soul drives out the Holy Spirit, it cannot keep the intellect free from harmful fantasies; for the Good Spirit always flees from loquacity, which is the cause of every upset and fantasy. Timely silence is good, since it is nothing other than the mother of the wisest thoughts.

From Antiochos: Poverty indicates that the monk who applies it in his life is sincere. The monk who has no possessions resembles an eagle, who flies high above the earth. The monk who has not a single possession shows himself to be only temporarily on earth. Since he has acquired none of the temporary goods of this world, by this indifference to them it is obvious that he desires things eternal.

A poor man mimics, by his poverty, Elias, John (the Baptist), and the Disciples of the Lord. Like them, he can say: "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" (St. Matt. 19:27) And he, like them, will hear that which the Saviour said: "You, having abandoned all and followed Me, shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life."
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 02:50:44 AM »

A brother said to Abba Anthony, “Pray for me.” The old man said to him, “I will have no mercy on you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.”
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 12:00:28 AM »

From Abba Isaac:

A foolish and thoughtless friend is a source of destruction; a source of sweetness is the conversation of sensible men. To make the unwise your companion is to bring sorrow to your heart. It is better to dwell with wild beasts than with those who behave badly; indeed, to sit with vultures rather than with a greedy and insatiable man. Better to become the companion of a murderer than a quarrelsome man. Converse with a pig rather than a glutton; for a pig's trough is better than a gluttonous and insatiable mouth. Sit among lepers rather than among arrogant men.

Abba Alonius said:

Unless a man says in his heart, "Only I and God exist in this world," he will not have rest.

An Elder said: "Even though the Saints toiled here on earth, they had already received a portion of their refreshment." The Elder meant by this that they were free of the cares of the world.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2013, 12:01:50 AM »

The fathers are well known for their thought provoking words.. A treasure they would not give to anyone passing by, but only those who would receive them humbly and virtuously.  Cheesy

Food for thought, and times of meditation!
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