LENTEN FIRE: February 23

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers 


The remedy

When Amoun was living as a solitary in Nitria, a child suffering from rabies was brought to him, bound with a chain.  For a rabid dog had bitten him and given him the disease.  His suffering was so unbearable that his whole body was convulsed by it.  When Amoun saw the child’s parents coming to entreat him, he said, “Why are you troubling me, my friends, seeking something which is beyond my merits, when the remedy lies in your own hands?  Give back to the widow the ox that you have killed surreptitiously, and your child will be restored to you in good health.”  Their crime having thus been exposed, they happily did what they had been told, and when the father prayed, the child instantly recovered.

What is the world?

A brother asked Abba Isaiah, “How ought I maintain contemplative quiet in my cell?”

The old man answered, “In order to maintain contemplative quiet in your cell, you have to abandon yourself before God and do everything in your power to resist every thought sown by the Enemy.  This, indeed, is what it means to flee the world.”

The brother said, “What is the world?”

The old man answered, “‘The world'” is the distractions that come from things; ‘the world’ is doing things that are contrary to nature and fulfilling your own fleshly desires; ‘the world’ is having more concern for your body than for your soul and rejoicing in those things you leave behind.  I have not said these things of my own accord; no, it is the apostle John who says these things: Do not love the world or things in the world.” (1 John 2:15)

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