From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers
A wise goldsmith
A brother asked Abba Macarius, “Tell me the meaning of repentance.”
Abba Macarius said to him, “Repentance does not consist only of kneeling, like the divining rod that indicates water by going up and down, but is like a wise goldsmith who wishes to craft a chain: with a link of gold and a link of silver, even with iron and lead, he lengthens the chain until he completes his work. This too is the form that repentance takes. All the virtues depends on it.”
The child of disobedience
There was an old man in Scetis who, when he fell into a very serious illness, was ministered to by the brothers. When the old man saw how hard they were working, he said, “I’ll go to Egypt in order not to inconvenience the brothers,” and Abba Moses said to him, “Don’t leave; if you go, you’ll fall into sin.”
The old man was annoyed to hear this and said, “My body has died, and you tell me this?” So he went to Egypt.
When the people heard, they were bringing the old man a lot of things, and a certain woman who was vowed to virginity came to minister to him. After a while, he got well and fell with her and she conceived in her womb and bore a son. The people asked her, “Where did this come from?” and she said, “From the old man,” but they did not believe her. But the old man said, “I’m the one who did it. Take care of the child I fathered,” and they took care of it.
When the child had been weaned, the old man, carrying the infant on his shoulder, came down to Scetis when one of the feast days was taking place and went into the church and said to the brothers, “Do you see this infant? He is the child of disobedience. So watch out for yourselves, brothers; I did this as an old man. But pray for me.”
When they saw this, everyone wept, and he left and went to his cell and took up his former way of life.