LENTEN FIRE: March 18

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

Enduring temptation

A brother asked Abba Poemen, “Why is it that my heart despairs if a little suffering gets hold of me?”

The old man said to him, “Do we not admire how Joseph, just a little boy in Egypt, the land of idolaters, endured temptation? (Genesis 39-41)  And God glorified him in the end.  We also see that Job did not stop holding fast to God to the end and the Enemy was unable to shake his faith.

A golden cistern and a leper

A priest visited an anchorite, celebrating for him the sacrifice of the holy mysteries.  But another person came to the anchorite and made slanderous accusations to him that the priest was a sinner.  When the priest came, therefore, as was his custom, to celebrate communion, the anchorite was scandalized and would not let him in.

So the priest left and suddenly a voice came from God saying to the anchorite, “People have taken my judgment into their own hands.” (1 Samuel 2:10; Matthew 7:1)  It was as if he were having a mystical vision: he saw a golden cistern and golden pail and golden rope and plenty of good water to drink; he also saw a leper drawing water and pouring it into a jar.  He himself wanted a drink but did not take one because it was a leper drawing up the water.  Suddenly the voice came to him again, “Why do you not drink some of the water?  What difference does it make who draws it up?  That fellow only draws the water up and pours it into a jar.”

When the anchorite came back to himself and considered the power of the vision, he summoned the priest and had him consecrate the sacrifice of the holy mysteries for him as he had done before.

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