LENTEN FIRE: March 22

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

I died before he did

Abba Daniel told this story about Abba Arsenius: A magistrate came one time, bringing Abba Arsenius the will of a certain senator, a member of abba’s family who had left him a very large inheritance.

Taking it, Arsenius wanted to tear it up, but the magistrate threw himself at Arsenius’s feet, saying, “Do not tear it up!   If you do, they will cut off my head!”

Abba Arsenius said to him, “I died before my relative,” and he gave the will back without accepting anything.

Just starting out

Antony, knowing the people’s practice of embalming and mummifying and afraid that they would do the same with his body, shared his plans with the monks on the outer mountain and then hastened away.  So he went to the inner mountain and remained there, as was  his custom, and after a few months he became ill.  He summoned those who were with him (there were two of them who had stayed there with him for fifteen years, living ascetically and serving him on account of his old age).  He said to them: “As for me, as it is written, I am going the way of the fathers, for I see myself being called by the Lord.  But as for you, be diligent and sober, and do not abandon the ascetic way of life that you have followed for so many years but, as though you were just now starting out, work hard at maintaining your zeal.

“You know that the demons are always hatching plots.  You know how savage they are.  But they are really weak and powerless.  Therefore do  not fear them but instead draw inspiration from Christ and believe in him.  And live as though you were going to die each day attentively observing yourselves, and remember the exhortation you have heard from me.  Make every effort yourselves always to be united, especially with the Lord, and then with the saints, so that after your death they will receive you into the eternal habitations as friends and companions.”

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