Wisdom From the Desert Fathers

A panel from an ancient Egyptian monastery showing a monk with Christ

Some gems from the Desert Fathers:

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 Anthony said to Abba Poemen, ‘this is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.’

He also said, ‘Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations, no one can be saved.’

Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, ‘What ought I to do?’ and the old man said to him ‘Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.’

Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”‘

He also said, ‘Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.’

He also said, ‘Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.’

Source

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