LENTEN FIRE: March 4

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


Him today, me tomorrow

When one of the fathers saw someone sinning, he wept bitterly and said, “This fellow today and me tomorrow.”

Foundations, stones, and rubble

A brother asked an old man, “If a monk falls into sin, he is afflicted like someone who goes from an advanced stage to a lower one and labors until he rises again, but the person who comes from the world makes progress like someone just starting out.”

In reply the old man said, “The monk who succumbs to temptation is like a collapsed house, and if he is completely vigilant with regard to his thoughts and wants to rebuild the collapsed house, he finds a large quantity of building material – the foundation, stones, rubble – and he is able to progress more rapidly than the person who did not trench and lay a foundation and made none of the necessary preparations but instead hoped that somehow the building might get finished.  It is the same with building a monastic life: if someone succumbs to temptation and returns to a righteous way of life, he has a great deal of working capital: the meditative reading of scripture, psalmody, and manual work, which are the foundations.  As long as he learns these things like a novice, the monk will regain his former position.”

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