Lenten Fire

LENTEN FIRE: Good Friday

March 29, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  I wish I could weep like that Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, “I was sitting with Abba Poeman one day and I saw him in ecstasy.  I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him so I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, ‘Tell me where you were.’ “He was forced to answer and he said, ‘My thought was with Saint Mary, the mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the savior.  I wish I could always weep like that.'” Carrying Christ’s cross Pachomius went with his brother to an island to cut rushes for mats.  And as he was keeping vigil alone, praying to be taught the whole will of God, (Romans [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of Holy Week

March 28, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Washing the feet of evildoers It was said of Abba John the Persian that when some evildoers came to him, he took a basin and wanted to wash their feet.  But they were filled with confusion, and began to do penance. Washing Christ’s feet One time, while Abba Bishoy was praying in his cave, the savior visited him with two angels, as he had the patriarch Abraham, (Genesis 18), and said, “Greetings Bishoy!  Today we will be enjoying your hospitality if you oblige and welcome us.” Bishoy eagerly welcomed them, emulating the hospitality of that patriarch.  He did not busy himself with food and drink, however, but rather possessed a pure disposition. [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of Holy Week

March 27, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Taking up the cross Abba Nilus said, “Go, sell all that belongs to you and give it to the poor, (Mark 10:21), and, taking up the cross, (Luke 14:27), deny yourself; in this way you will be able to pray without distraction.” The dog and the hare An old man was asked how the zealous monk should not have his feelings hurt if he sees others turning back to the world and he said, “It’s profitable to observe dogs as they chase after hares: when one of them sees the hare he gives chase; the others see only the dog giving chase and run after him for a while but finally turn back to where they were.  Only the dog that saw the hare keeps up the [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Tuesday Of Holy Week

March 26, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  As for me A brother went to Abba Matoës and said to him, “How is it that the monks of Scetis did more than the Scriptures required in loving their enemies more than themselves?” Abba Matoës said to him, “As for me, I have not yet managed to love those who love me as much as I love myself.” A torn cloak A soldier asked Abba Mius if God accepted repentance. After the old man had taught him many things, he said to the soldier, “Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn do you throw in away?” The soldier replied, “No.  I mend it and use it again.” The old man said to him, “If you are so careful about your cloak, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of Holy Week

March 25, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Even if I were ashes thrown to the wind Abba Poemen used to say this about Abba Isidore: “Every night he plaited a bundle of palms and the brothers pleaded with him, saying, ‘Rest a little, for you are getting old.’ “But he said to them, ‘Even if Isidore were burned, and his ashes thrown to the winds, I would not allow myself any relaxation because the son of God came here for our sake.'” Macarius, the thief, and the recalcitrant camel They said of Abba Macarius that a thief went into his cell when he was away.  Macarius went back to his cell and found the thief loading his things onto a camel.  So Macarius went into the cell, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 24, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Short and simple Abba Paul said, “Keep close to Jesus.” Bread and cheese One time a magistrate came to visit Abba Simon.  The clergy went on ahead and said to the old man, “Abba, get ready.  The magistrate has heard of you and is coming for your blessing.” So he said, “Yes, I will prepare myself.”  Then he put on a rough habit and taking some bread and cheese in his hands, went and sat in the doorway to eat it. When the magistrate arrived with his retinue and saw him, he despised him and said, “Is this the anchorite of whom we have heard so much?”  And they went away at [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 22, 2013

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 [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 21, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Abba Macarius welcomes rebuke It was said about Abba Macarius that if a brother came to him fearfully as though to a saint and great old man, he would say nothing to him.  But if one of the brothers heaped scorn on him, saying, “My father, when you were a camel-driver and stole nitre and sold it, didn’t the guards beat you?”  If someone said these words to him, he would speak with him with joy about whatever he asked him. Imitate the dead A brother paid a visit to Abba Macarius and said to him, “Tell me a word: How can I be saved?” The old man said to him, “Go to the tombs.  Curse the dead.  Throw rocks at them.” The [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Tuesday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 20, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Angels and unclean spirits One of Abba Longinus’s disciples had done some inappropriate things.  When Abba Theodore of Enaton found out, he came to Abba Longinus with another elder.  They implored him to expel the disciple.  But Abba Longinus did not listen to them, thinking that perhaps his disciple would repent and God would forgive him; he did not desire the death of the sinner but hoped he would repent and live. (Ezekiel 33:11; James 5:20)  He said to them just these words: “Woe to us because we renounce the world and have entered into the monastic life saying, ‘We are like angels,’ but in reality we are more evil than unclean [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 19, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Sailors fighting a surging sea Amma Syncletica said, “In the world, those who sin, even involuntarily, are thrown into prison; as for us, on account of our sins let us imprison ourselves so that such voluntary judgment may drive off future punishment.  Are you fasting?  Do not pretend to be ill, for those who do not fast fall into real illnesses.  Have you begun to do what is good?  Do not fall back when the Enemy cuts off your advance, for through your patient endurance he is rendered impotent.  Indeed, those who begin a voyage first unfold the sails and go before a favorable wind but later the wind becomes adverse and impedes them.  The sailors, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Fifth Sunday Of Lent

March 18, 2013

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. [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Saturday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 17, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Torn to pieces A brother who had renounced the world and distributed what he owned among the poor, but who kept a few things for his own purposes, went to see Abba Antony, and when the old man learned what the brother had done, he said to him, “If you want to become a monk, go to the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it, and come here like that.” When the brother did what Antony had commanded, the dogs and the birds cut his body to pieces.  When he went to meet the old man, Antony inquired if the brother had done as he had advised.  When that brother showed him his lacerated body, Abba Antony said, “Those who renounce the world [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 16, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  See the sin but not the repentance An old man said, “Even if someone sins in some way in your presence, do not judge him but consider yourself more of a sinner than he is, for you have seen the sin but you have not seen the repentance.” Abba Macarius learns about true work It was said about Abba Macarius the Great that, passing through Egypt one time, he came upon a threshing floor.  He saw a heap of grain that had been threshed, its owner using it to pay wages to the workers.  When the old man wished to test the grower, wanting him to talk about the nature of his work, he said to him, “Please do me the kindness, my father, of giving me a little [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 15, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The reason we do not make progress An old man said, “The reason we do not make progress is because we do not know our own capacities and do not have patient endurance for the work we have undertaken.  No, we want to acquire virtue painlessly.” A sinner, a pillar of fire It was said of Abba Mark of Egypt that he lived thirty years without leaving his cell: the priest would regularly come and celebrate Holy Communion for him.  When the Devil saw the man’s virtuous endurance, he hatched a plot to tempt him and got a demoniac to go to the old man under the pretext of asking for his prayers.  Before the old man could say anything, the possessed [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 14, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Dress like the tax collector Abba Evagrius said: “I visited Abba Macarius and said to him, ‘Tell me a word so I may live.’ He said to me, ‘If I speak to you, will you listen and do it?’ I said to him, ‘My faith and my love are not hidden from you.’ Abba Macarius said to me, ‘Truly I lack the adornment of virtue; you, however are good.  But if you cast of the pridefulness of this world’s rhetoric and clothe yourself in the humility of the tax collector, (Luke 18:9-14), you will live.'” Friends indeed A brother in a monastery was falsely accused of fornication and he arose and went to Abba Antony.  The [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Tuesday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 13, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Every breath we take Abba Macarius said, “Let us not slacken our resolve nor be without hope, for with every breath we take our Lord Jesus Christ gives us opportunity for repentance.” Salty water, sweet water He also said, “Let us not cause that fountain to bubble up which is salty because of its single source, that is, the well of the heart, but let bubble up without ceasing that which is sweet  all the time, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 3:11) Close the one door, not the other A brother came to see Abba Poemen in the second week of Lent and told him about his thoughts; he obtained peace, and said to him, “I nearly did [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 12, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Do what you can A brother in Scetis fell one time due to temptation and went to Abba Macarius the Alexandrian and told him about the temptation.  After the old man punished him with the bonds of asceticism so he would repent and not open his door for a time, the brother left; he was troubled, however, because of the temptation and was in danger and was not able to carry out the order that Abba Macarius had bound him with.  Distressed by battle, he went to the other Abba Macarius, the Egyptian.  He told him about the transgression and about his inability to carry out the order that Abba Macarius had bound him with. The old man calmed the brother’s spirit and [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Fourth Sunday Of Lent

March 11, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Being a witness for God Question: I want to be a witness for God. Answer: If someone bears with his neighbor during a fit of temper, it is equal to the furnace at the time of the three youth. (Daniel 3) The tunic and the patch A brother asked Abba Macarius, “My father, how can a person be free from the passions and be renewed in the Spirit?” The old man said to him, “I will give you an analogy. (1 Corinthians 13:12)  It is like a tunic: if it is torn, a patch is put on it until it is made new once again.  The tunic can be compared to the body, torn by sin and pleasure.  the patch is the repentance that our Lord Jesus Christ gives to [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Saturday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 10, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Sin and penitence, love and pride Abba Elias, the minister, said, “What can sin do where there is penitence?  And of what use is love where there is pride?” A demon with a wineskin Abba Elias said, “I saw someone who was carrying a skin of wine on his arm and, in order to make the demon blush, for it was a fantasy, I said to the brother, ‘Of your charity take off your cloak.’  He took off his cloak, and was not found to be carrying anything.  I say that so you may not believe even that which you see or hear.  Even more, observe your thoughts and beware of what you have in your heart and your spirit, knowing that the demons put ideas [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 9, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Forgiveness and repentance Not long before, some robbers had come at night from some distance away to attack Abba Theon.  They thought that they would find a considerable sum of gold hoarded by him, and intended to kill him.  But he prayed, and they remained at the door, rooted to the spot, until daybreak.  When the crowd came to him in the morning and proposed to burn these men alive, he was forced to speak a single sentence to them: “Let them go unharmed; if you do not, my gift of healing will leave me.”  They obeyed, for they did not dare to contradict him.  The robbers at once entered the neighboring monasteries and with the help of the monks [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 8, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Concealing and revealing A brother asked Abba Poemen, “If I see my brother’s fault, is it good to conceal it?” The old man said, “At the very moment we conceal our brother’s fault God also hides our own, and at the very moment we reveal our brother’s fault, God also reveals ours.” Sinning in thought and sinning in deed It was reported that two brothers went into a village where they had been sent, and the demon attacked the older one five times in order to make him sin.  And he contended with the attacks by saying a prayer each hour.  They returned to their father and his face was troubled and he asked his father’s [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 7, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The brother and the dove (continued) So the brother came to himself and was restored to his right mind and he left and went into the desert and when he came to a great old man he related to him what had happened. In reply, the old man said to him, “Stay with me in my cave and fast for three weeks and I will entreat God on your behalf.”  And so the old man labored on the brother’s behalf and entreated God, saying, “I beg you, Lord, grant me this soul and accept his repentance.”  And God heard him. When the first week was completed, the old man went to the brother and asked him, “Have you seen anything?” The brother answered [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Tuesday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 6, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The brother and the dove A brother was besieged by sexual sin.  He happened to pass through a village in Egypt and when he saw a pagan priest’s daughter he fell in love with her.  So he said to her father, “Give her to me as a wife.” In reply the priest said to him, “I cannot give her to you until I learn what my god wishes,” and he went to the demon and said to it, “Some monk has come, wishing to marry my daughter.  Shall I give her to him?” In reply the demon said, “Ask him if he renounces his god and his baptism and his monastic vow.” So the priest went and said to the monk, “Do you renounce your god [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 5, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Walking alone with God You shall test the teaching that you follow, walking alone with God at your side. For Elijah was at the river Chorath alone, God was with him, and the raven ministered to him. (1 Kings 17:1-7) The prophet was also walking alone; he took Paul’s belt and bound himself. (Acts 21:11) When you fell into sin you won A brother went to draw water from the river.  He found a woman washing clothes and it happened that he fell into sin with her.  After the sin, he took his water and was returning to his cell, but the demons, by means of his thoughts, trampled on him and afflicted him, saying, “Where are you going?  After this, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Third Sunday Of Lent

March 4, 2013

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 [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Saturday Of The Second Week Of Lent

March 3, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  This is the great work Abba Antony said to Abba Poemen, “This is the great work of a person: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.” I will never grow tired Abba Macarius beseeched Christ, “Jesus, Jesus, if my cries do not ring in your ears when I call out day and night to you in Heaven to have mercy on me and to pity me on account of my sins, I will still not grow tired of imploring you.” Fruit-bearing struggles A disciple of a great old man was once besieged by sin.  When the old man saw him struggling, he said to him: “Do you want me to entreat God to lift the warfare from [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The Second Week Of Lent

March 2, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers What is sufficient Question: Is it good to possess two tunics? (Matthew 10:10; Luke 9:3) Answer: To possess two tunics and not to possess evil that stains the whole body is a good thing, for the soul has no need of evil, but the body needs clothing.  Since we have the things we need and they’re sufficient, we are satisfied with them. (Proverbs 30:8 and 1 Timothy 6:8) You can’t go inside Abba Isaac of Thebes visited a cenobium and saw a brother doing wrong and condemned him.  When he left for the desert, an angel of the Lord came and stood in front of the door to his cell and said, “I will not let you go inside.” Abba Isaac importuned him, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of The Second Week Of Lent

March 1, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The pure angelic habit Abba Macarius said, “Like the carpenter who straightens what is crooked and bends what is straight, so it is with the repentance that our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed for us: it makes straight again what is crooked and rolls in the filth of sin and makes it pure like virgins standing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 25:1-13)  Those who turn away from their sins and repent receive the pure angelic habit that is in Heaven. The sweet of all sweets Abba Poemen said: “I was sitting one time with some brothers beside Abba Macarius.  I said to him, ‘My father, what work must a person do in order to acquire [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Second Week Of Lent

February 28, 2013

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 [...]