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Desert Wisdom
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JMC
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:38 pm    Post subject: Desert Wisdom  Reply with quote



          The Evergetinos - A Spiritual Goldmine from the Elders of the Desert


The Evergetinos is a source of inspiration, spiritual guidance, and insight into the lives of men and women who, during the first few centuries of Christianity, attained to the highest ideals of the spiritual life. In the spiritual battleground of the Egyptian deserts, these seekers after salvation, enlightenment, and union with Christ brought into sharp focus the teachings of the Apostles and the message of Holy Writ in their daily lives and activities.

The stern, the loving, “fools for Christ”—all of the exemplars of Christian Sainthood, the many inhabitants of the many mansions above, are to be found in the rich and profitable lives portrayed in this collection. Also to be found are perfect models for every Christian who wishes sincerely to imitate those who have walked the path towards moral and spiritual perfection.

This thread gives a small selection of these spiritual lives, sayings and anecdotes.


A Prayer from the Desert
  ------------------------
     
 Lord  Jesus Christ, whose will all things obey:
pardon  what I have done  and grant that I, a sinner,  may sin no more.
Lord, I believe that  though  I do not  deserve it, you can cleanse me from  all my sins.
Lord,  I know  that  man looks  upon  the face, but  you see the heart.  
Send your spirit into  my  inmost  being,  to  take possession of my soul and body.  
Without you  I  cannot   be  saved; with  you  to protect  me, I  long  for your salvation.
And  now   I ask you  for your salvation.
And now  I ask you for wisdom:
Deign of your  great goodness  to  help and defend me.  
Guide my heart, almighty God, that I may remember your presence day and night.

 ++ Amen ++
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JMC
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Abba Anthony said: "The time is coming when people will be seized by manias and will behave like madmen. And if they see anyone acting reasonably, they will rise up against him saying: 'You are insane.' And they will be correct to say this, for he will not be like them."

~~~

Several brothers went to Abba Anthony to relate to him certain visions which they beheld and to ascertain from him whether the visions were true or of demonic origin. They had along with them a small donkey which died on the way. Just as they reached Abba Anthony, he, expecting them, said: “How did the little donkey die on the road?”

“How did you know this, Abba?” they said to him.

“The demons revealed it to me.”

And they answered him: “It is for this reason that we came to see you, for fear of being deceived, since we see visions and many times they come true.”

Thus, with the foregoing example of the donkey, the elder made it known to them that even though their visions came true, they were given with the intent to deceive.

~~~

Abba Anthony received a letter from emperor Constantine to visit him in Constantinople. He wondered if he should go and asked Abba Paul who said:

“If you go, you will be called Anthony, but if you stay here, you will be called Abba Anthony. “  

~~~
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So he did. The old man then said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man said, "Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied, "If I bend my bow so much I will break it."

Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs." When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loquacity mostly comes from a certain vainglory, which makes us think that we know a great deal and imagine our opinion on the subject of conversation to be the most satisfactory of all. So we experience an irresistible urge to speak out and in a stream of words, with many repetitions, to impress the same opinion in the hearts of others, thus foisting ourselves upon them as unbidden teachers and sometimes even dreaming of making pupils of men, who understand the subject much better than the teacher.


From the Unseen Warfare
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never look down on anyone. You do not know whether the Spirit of God prefers to dwell in you or in them.

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

+

You must not wage your Christian struggle with sermons and arguments, but with true secret love. When we argue, others react. When we love people, they are moved and we win them over. When we love, we think that we offer something to others, but in reality we are the first to benefit.

- Elder Porphyry Bairaktaris
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Rose
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi JMC

I was looking up Wisdom of the desert and came across this one

Quote:

A story of the abbot John the Short: how he fell into the sin of presumption through lack of discretion, and afterwards was saved.

They tell this story about the abbot John the Short. Once he said to one of the brethren who was his senior, "I wish to be as the angels are, free from all care, doing no work, but ceaselessly praising and praying to God." Then casting off his raiment, he departed into the wilderness. After a week had passed, he returned to his brother and knocked at the door of his cell. Before he opened to him, the brother asked, "Who art thou?' John replied, "I am John." Then the brother answered him and said, "Not so, for John has become an angel, and no longer has intercourse with men." He, however, continued knocking, and crying out, "Indeed, I am he." The other, however, would not open the door, but left him suffering there. At last he opened the door and admitted John, saying to him, "If you are a man, need is for you to work that you may live. If you are an angel, why do you seek entrance to my cell?" John then, being truly penitent, replied, "Pardon me, O brother, for I have grievously sinned."
http://www3.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/wd.htm





It is taken from a book on Desert Wisdom which you might find interesting!


Quote:

THIS little book is neither a critical examination of the earlier egyptian monastic literature nor an historical account of the movement. It is nothing more than an attempt to appreciate the religious spirit of the first Christian monks. I do not know of any other similar attempt, though an exceedingly interesting study of the hermit life will be found in E. Lucius' Das Mönchische Leben des vierten und fünften Jahrhunderts in der Beleuchtung seiner Vertreter und Gönnor.
The collection of stories and sayings which I have translated, sometimes very freely, must be regarded merely as an anthology culled from the "meadows" of the literature of the desert life. There is much more which is worthy of a place in our devotional literature, and which, I hope, may in, the future be arranged and translated by men more fitted for the task than I am. I acknowledge gratefully the assistance I have received from two friends -- Miss Bloxham and the Rev. C. S. Collins -- whose sympathy with things that are high and holy has been a constant help to me in my work.

I have further to acknowledge the very great kindness of Father Andrew, S.D.C., who designed the drawings which both adorn this volume and interpret the spirit of the hermits' teaching.

http://www3.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/wd.htm




I've not come across this before, so was quite interested.

Julie
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


How the injuries done to us by evil men are means whereby we may attain perfection.

There was once a monk who observed this rule of life. The more anyone injured or insulted him, the more eagerly he sought that man's company. This he did because, as he was wont to say, "Those whose company I seek are they who afford me the opportunity of perfection. They who speak well of us and bless us set our paths about with stumbling-blocks. It is they who deceive us."





Julie
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


IX
How a certain elder shrank from being praised, and rejoiced when he was despised.

A certain old man dwelt in the lower part of the desert, at peace, in a cave. A religious man from a neighbouring village used to bring him what he wanted. It happened that this man's son fell sick. With many prayers he besought the old man to come to his house and pray for the child. At length he prevailed with him, and running home, cried out, "Prepare for the coming of the hermit." When the people of the village knew that he was coming they went out with torches to welcome him as if he had been some prince or governor. The hermit, as soon as he perceived how they meant to greet him, stood upon the river-bank, and taking off his clothes, went naked into the water. When the man who was accustonied to minister to him saw this he was greatly ashamed, and said to the villagers, "Return to your homes, for our hermit has lost his senses." Then going to the old man, he said, "My father, why have you done this? All those who saw you are saying, 'That old man is nothing better than a fool.'" The hermit replied to him, "That is the very thing I wished to hear."


X

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your posts, Julie. I had heard some of those stories before, but had never heard of that particular collection. There are quite a few anthologies of the desert fathers out there now, but I think at the time that book was published not many of them would have been accessible to the Western world. It's only in the past 50 years or so that modern translations have been done.

The introduction used the word "meadows" and reminded me of the book "The Spiritual Meadow, which is a 7th century anthology of stories and sayings complied by John Moschos (Moschos just means "the monk"). I'm sure some of the stories in there are in the online book you've found.

There is also this online collection of "sayings from the desert fathers". Some of the collected stories/sayings are modern, which just goes to emphasize that the tradition that produced these pieces of wisdom is a living tradition; a way of life that is still around and able to benefit us all.

I had made a thread like this on another forum, but unfortunately it was deleted  
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A monk whom another brother had wronged came to see Abba Sisoes and said to him, “My brother has hurt me and I want to avenge myself.”

The old man pleaded with him saying, “No, my child, leave vengeance to God.”

He said to him, “I shall not rest until I have avenged myself.”

The old man said, “Brother, let us pray.”

Then the old man stood up and said, “God, we no longer need you to care for us, since we do justice for ourselves.”

Hearing these words, the brothers fell at the old man’s feet, saying, “I will no longer seek justice from my brother; forgive me, abba.”


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