Advent Fire

ADVENT FIRE: December 24

December 24, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  If Abba Pambo said, “If you have a heart, you can be saved.” The Desire for Possessions Abba Isidore of Pelusia said, “The desire for possessions is dangerous and terrible, knowing no satiety; it drives the soul which it controls to the heights of evil.  Therefore let us vigorously drive it away from the beginning.  Once it has become master it cannot be [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 23

December 23, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  What Would You Say Then? One day when Abba John the Little was sitting in front of the church, the brothers were consulting him about their thoughts.  One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, “John, your vessel is full of poison.” Abba John said to him, “That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you see only the outside.  But if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?” (Luke 11:39; Matthew 23:27) A Wonderful Book While Father Copres was telling us about the signs and wonders performed by Abba Patermuthius, one of our party, overcome with incredulity at what was being said, dozed off.  And [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 22

December 22, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Grace of the Cell The angels entered Lot’s house. (Genesis 19:3) The angel entered the house of Tobias and Tobit and his wife. (Tobias 5:10, 5:18) He also entered the house of Manoah.(Judges 13) Now, then, give yourself to the grace of the cell.  All healing will take place for you there. Accidie Will Weigh Down Your Soul Amma Theodora said, “It is good to live in peace, for the wise person practices perpetual prayer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  It is truly a great thing for a virgin or a monk to live in peace, especially for the younger ones.  However, you should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 21

December 21, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Royal Path Abba Benjamin said to his disciples, “Walk on the royal path and measure off the miles.” Pilgrimage Abba Tithoës used to say, “Pilgrimage means that a person should control his own tongue.” Just Like Antony A brother asked an old man, “What shall I do, father?  Nothing I do is monastic.  I’m careless and neglectful about eating and drinking and sleeping and I’m prone to disgraceful thoughts and being troubled a lot.  I go from one job to another and one thought to another.” The old man said, “Stay in your cell and do what you can without worrying about it.  I think that the little bit you’re doing now is just like the great [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 20

December 20, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Bread From God Now when I saw that it was not God’s will that I remain there, I stretched out my hands and prayed to the Lord and suddenly the man who had come to me the first time and had strengthened me came to me again as he had done the first time.  He said to me, Paphnutius, our Lord has informed me today that you were coming to us in this place.  You’re the first person we’ve seen in sixty years.”  When we had spent some time talking with each other, finally they said to me, “Brother, strengthen yourself with a little bread, for you have come a great distance.  The Lord has determined that we are to remain together for a few days and we will [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 19

December 19, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Do Not Judge Yourself Abba Poemen said that Abba Paphnutius used to say, “During the whole lifetime of the old men, I used to go see them twice a month, although it was a distance of twelve miles.  I told them each of my thoughts and they never answered me anything but this: ‘Wherever you go, do not judge yourself and you will be at peace.’” How Should We Conduct Ourselves? When Abba Romanus was at the point of death, his disciples gathered around him and said, “How should we conduct ourselves?” The old man said to them, “I do not think I have ever told one of you to do anything without having first made the decision not to get angry if what I said [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 18

December 18, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  How Long Shall We Go On Like This? Abba Paul the Barber and his brother Timothy lived in Scetis.  They often used to argue.  So Abba Paul said, “How long shall we go on like this?” Abba Timothy said to him, “I suggest you take my side of the argument and in turn I will take your side when you oppose me.” They spent the rest of their days in this practice. Mary Needs Martha A brother went to see Abba Silvanus on the mountain of Sinai.  When he saw the brothers working hard he said to the old man, “Do not labor for the food that perishes.  Mary has chosen the better part.” (John 6:27) The old man said to his disciple, “Zacharias, give the brother a [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 17

December 17, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Like Lions and a Mother Bear Now then, you who are poor, you shall look boldly upon your enemies like the roaring lions and like a bear that has had her cubs taken away from her. (Proverbs 28:15, 2 Samuel 17:8) No Man is an Island Abba Poemen said that Abba Theonas said, “Even if a person acquires a virtue, God does not grant him grace for himself alone.” He knew that he was not faithful in his own labor, but that if he went to his companion, God would be with [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 16

December 16, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Paradise Regained* The four young men continued: “Now when we had gone some distance into the desert, an ecstatic vision suddenly came upon us: a man, wholly of light, took us by the hand and brought us here.  Now when we had come to this place we found a holy man of God, and the angel of the Lord entrusted us to him and for a year of days he set about teaching us to be servants of God.  When the year was finished, the holy and blessed old man died and we remained alone here.  Our lord brother, we confess to you in the Lord that it has been sixty years and we have not known the taste of bread or any other kind of food except the fruit from these trees which we [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 15

December 15, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Paradise Regained* When I had traveled some days’ distance, I came upon a well of water.  I sat down for a little while because I was tired and there were large trees growing by the well.  When I had rested awhile and slept a bit, I stayed there and walked among the trees.  I was amazed and thought to myself, “Who planted these here?”  There were date-palms laden with fruit, and citron and pomegranate and fig trees and apple trees and grapevines, nectarine trees and other trees that gave off a sweet fragrance.  The well produced water and watered all the trees growing there. Now while I was marveling at the trees and looking at them and their fruit, [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 14

December 14, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Cleaning the Soul The drugs that purge the body do not remain within the body of the patient.  The virtues, however, cleanse the soul but yet remain in the person who has been purified. The True and Good Tent The true and good tent (Hebrews 9:11) shall be the person of God who sits in it. A wise person in his cell is the true and perfect “tent with the golden urn in it, with manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.” (Hebrews 9:11, 9:4) My Book A certain member of what was then considered the circle of the wise once approached the just Antony and asked him: “How do you ever manage to carry on, Father, deprived as you are of the [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 13

December 13, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Lord, You See My Weariness It was said about Abba Macarius that one time as he was going up from Scetis to Egypt he was carrying some baskets.  When he grew weary, he sat down.  He raised his eyes up to Heaven and said, “Lord, it is you who see my weariness,” and after he said this, he found himself at the Nile with the baskets. Antony Tames the Beasts in the Desert Later, when the brothers learned about the place, like children thinking of their father, they took care to send him what he needed.  But Antony saw that some of them, out of their concern to bring him bread, were putting themselves to great trouble and were wearing themselves out.  Wishing to [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 12

December 12, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Did You See Anything Here? A brother came to the cell of Abba Arsenius in Scetis.  Waiting outside the door, he saw the old man entirely like a flame.  (The brother was worthy of this sight.)  When he knocked, the old man came out and saw the brother marveling.  He said to him, “Have you been knocking long? Did you see anything here?” The other answered, “No.” So then Arsenius talked with him and sent him away. I Do Not Know One day some old men came to see Abba Antony.  In the midst of them was Abba Joseph.  Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant.  Each [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 11

December 11, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Permeated Through and Through A person who has established the virtues in himself and is entirely permeated with them no longer remembers the law or commandments or punishment.  Rather, he says and does what excellent habit suggests. What the World Cried Out It was said about Abba Macarius the Great that one time when he was working the harvest with the brothers, a wolf opened its mouth and let out a great cry, its eyes staring up to Heaven to the Lord.  The saint stopped and smiled with tears in his eyes. When the brothers saw him, they were amazed.  They threw themselves down at his feet, beseeching him, “We beseech you, our father, tell us why you were [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 10

December 10, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Things Contrary to Nature Abba Poemen said, “God has given this way of life to Israel: to abstain from things that are contrary to nature, that is, anger, rage, envy, hatred, slander against one’s brother, and the remaining vices of the old self. (Romans 6:6) 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 [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 9

December 9, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  You Can Be Sure Pray not to this end, that your own desires be fulfilled.  You can be sure they do not fully accord with the will of God.  Once you have learned to accept this, pray instead your will be done in me. (Matthew 6:10)  In every matter ask him in this way for what is good and for what confers profit on your soul, for you yourself do not seek this so completely as he does. What Seemed Good to Me Many times while I was at prayer, I would keep asking for what seemed good to me.  I kept insisting on my own request, unreasonably putting pressure on the will of God.  I simply would not leave it up to his Providence to arrange what he knew would turn out [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 8

December 8, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Let the Shade Suffice Abba Evagrius said, “I paid a visit to Abba Macarius at the hottest time of the day.  I was burning with thirst and said to him, ‘I am very thirsty, my father.’ “He said to me, ‘Let the shade suffice.  There are numbers of people on the road right now who are burning who have no shade.’” A Mother Gives Her Child a Sweet A brother asked Abba Macarius, “My father, guide me concerning what is sweet and what is salty.” (James 3:11) Abba Macarius said to him, “They say that if the mother of a small child places the child on the ground, she puts some kind of sweet in his hand for him to lick so he won’t vex his mother.  The [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 7

December 7, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Two Pairs of Sandals Amma Theodora said, “There was a monk who, because of the great number of his temptations, said, “I will go away from here.” As he was putting on his sandals, he saw another monk who was also putting on his sandals and this other monk said to him, “Is it on my account that you are going away?  Because I go before you wherever you are going.” Wing Feathers on a Lump of Wood They said of Abba Pambo that his face never smiled.  So one day, wishing to make him laugh, the demons stuck wing feathers on to a lump of wood and brought it in, making an uproar and saying, “Go, go!” When he saw them, Abba Pambo began to laugh and the demons [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 6

December 6, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Way the Fuller Cleans Your Clothes Do not seek to avoid those who would give you a good drubbing.  Though they kick you about and stretch you and hackle you like flax, yet after all this is the way the fuller cleans your clothes. Eating of the Fruits of Paradise Abba Patermuthius was once transported physically to paradise, he said, and had seen a vast company of saints.  He related how he had eaten of the fruits of paradise, and showed evidence of the fact.  For he had brought his disciples a large choice fig, deliciously scented, to prove to them that what he had said was true.  The priest Copres, who was telling this story, being at that time a young man, [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 5

December 5, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Finding Peace Abba Poemen said, “If you take little account of yourself, you will have peace wherever you live.”  He also said, “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.” God’s Power Because no one among mortals lives without tasting death, the father of Abba Bishoy died and the care of the children fell to his most noble wife who suffered alone.  Of all the children, the youngest was Bishoy and, because of his age, he gave his other the most concern, so a kind-looking angel of the Lord appeared unexpectedly in the middle of the night.  “God, the father of orphans, has sent me,” he said.  “Why do you appear so downhearted?  Is [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 4

December 4, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Conflict of the Heart Abba Antony said, “The person who dwells in the desert and practices contemplative quiet is freed from three conflicts: those of hearing and speech and sight.  He has only a single conflict: that of the heart.” Fish Headed For the Sea Abba Antony said, “Just as fish die if they stay too long on dry land, monks who loiter outside their cells or spend their time with those living in the world lose the intensity of contemplative quiet.  Therefore, like the fish headed for the sea, we must hasten to our cells lest in loitering outside we forget our interior watchfulness.” Illuminations Received in Solitude Since Abba Bishoy was always [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 3

December 3, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Opening the Door Another time when the archbishop wanted to approach Arsenius, he first sent someone to see if the old man would open his door to him.  Arsenius sent word to him, saying, “If you come, I will open my door to you; and if I open my door to you, I will open it to everyone, and then I will no longer live here.” When the archbishop heard this, he said, “If I drive him away by going to see him, I will no longer journey to see the saint.” Stay Away from Arsenius Blessed Archbishop Theophilus, in the company of a certain provincial governor, once approached Abba Arsenius.  The archbishop asked Arsenius a question, wanting to hear a word from him. [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 2

December 2, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  What Should I Do To Please God? Someone asked Abba Antony, “What practice should I observe in order to please God?” The old man answered, “Observe what I appoint for you: Wherever you go, always keep God in your sight; whatever you do, do it according to the witness of the Holy Scriptures; and wherever you settle, do not quickly move away.  Observe these three things and you will be saved.” Look at the Street Vendor Some brothers asked Abba Macarius the Great, “Are feelings of pity more important than works?” He said to them, “Yes.” The brothers said to him, “Persuade us.” When Abba Macarius saw that they were fearful and timid, wanting to [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 1

December 1, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Wait a Second There A brother received the monastic habit.  He immediately withdrew to be by himself, saying, “I am an anchorite.”  The old men heard about it so they went to drive him out of his cell.  They made him go around to the cells of the brothers, repenting and saying, “Forgive me, I am not an anchorite but rather a sinner and a novice.” Glorifying God in the Desert One day, then, as Abba Bishoy sat in his cave with a divine hymn on his lips, the Savior appeared to him, saying, “Peace be with you, my beloved servant Bishoy.” Bishoy got up, filled with fear and trembling. (1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15)  “Christ, my compassionate [...]