1. From saint Anthony’s life

Once a magistrian from Rome came at the Sete, bringing the will of one of Arsenions’relatives. The elder took it in his hands and he would have torn it if the magistrian hadn’t stopped him falling at his knees and telling him that by tearing the document he would have been put in danger. Arsenios gave him back the will and said: `I died before him and I am not among the living anymore.

2. From Patericon

  • An elder said: The saints even if they toiled here took their share of rest. He said this because the saints were free of the worldly worries.
  • Abba Alonius said: `If the man doesn’t say in his heart `it’s only God and me in this world`, he won’t find peace.`
  • An elder said: `The monk who after he left the world dedicates himself to

the waste and toil of this wretched life, focusing on give and take is like a poor man lacking even the needed food and who not finding clothes to dress or food to eat indulges himself in sleep, because of his great idleness and he sees himself rich in his dream, without the soiled clothes, dressed in some bright ones. Then he wakes up happily and finds himself in the same poverty. In the same way the monk without vigilance, who wastes his days in worries, scorned by thoughts and exhausted by the demons who make fun of him and whisper to him that the waste and toil are for God and he will be rewarded for them. One like this in the moment when the soul is separated from the body finds himself poor, lacking all virtue. And only then he understands how many goods are given by vigilance and heed at oneself and how many punishments are caused by the waste in the worries of life.

  • Once the landlord of the region caught someone from abba Pimen’s village and all the monks came to the monk asking him to go and free that man. The elder said: `Leave me three days and then I come.` Then the elder prayed to God: `God, don’t give me this gift, because they won’t let me stay here anymore.` After three days he went to the governor and asked him to free that man. The governor said: `You intervene for a robber, abba?` And the elder was glad that his prayer was answered.

3. of abba Isaiah

  • Brother now that the man can grow in God only if he becomes without any worry for the things of this age. Two are the matters opposing to the soul: one from the outside focused on the works of this world for the rest of the body and another inner one, of the passions that is an impediment for virtues. The soul doesn’t see the inner one, of the passions, until frees itself of the outside one. That’s why the Lord said: `In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.` [2]

The outside matter fights us using our own will and the inner one fights us with the exterior deed. Thus our Lord knowing that the personal will is the one that reigns both commanded us to cut it. Because our mind is dead as long as the soul cares only for those from the outside and then the passions from the inside manifest themselves freely.

Thus if the soul cuts its wills then it hates the whole work and waste of this world. Then the mind wakes and stands boldly until it throws outside from its house the passions, taking heed at the soul without cease and guarding it not to go back to those that harmed it. The soul is like a young woman with a husband who when her husband goes to a foreign country becomes daring and shameless not taking care of her household anymore. But when her husband comes back she becomes fearful again, she renounces at her deeds and is preoccupied to please her husband. And he after he comes bac home takes care of everything the woman needs and protects her until she gives birth and raises his children. And they both become one heart, the soul is subordinated to the mind and the mind becomes head of the soul as the Apostle says: `The man is head for the woman.` This word is for those who became worthy to be one in God, not having any disagreement between themselves (between mind and soul) as the Lord taught in the Gospel saying: `If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them.`

The Lord wants for those who belong to Him not be harmed by the visible matter or by the matter hidden in the soul or by all those He destroyed in His body when He made Himself man as He said: `Remain in Me as I also remain in you.` [4] First He wants us to remain in Him by deed so that He may remain in us by purity, meaning through the spiritual sight. It is impossible for the soul to enjoy the peace of the Son of God if it doesn’t have the image of the Emperor, as there is no merchant who receives or gives a coin without the image of the emperor. Because neither the money changer weights it, to evaluate it, nor the emperor puts it into his treasury. It is the same with the soul. If it doesn’t have the image of Jesus, the great emperor, the angels won’t rejoice with it and he will expel it saying: `How did you enter here without having My face that is as I said love?` And it is impossible to have love when the soul dividing itself seeks for God and loves the things of the world. Because as the bird cannot fly with a single wing or if it has something hanging on it,  the soul cannot grow in God if it is attached of something worldly. Those who love God from all their heart cannot be separated by anything in the world of His love according to the word of the Apostle: `Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.`

  • The same abba said: Do not wish to be asked for advice or word about the present age, nor trust the one who asks you to give him answer. Have all the time your hearing focused on the thoughts that speak within yourself and pray to God to give you discernment to know which one to listen. Because those who deal with the vain things forget about the fight against the devil.

4. of Abba Mark

The Scripture says: No soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs. Because the one who wants to defeat passions as long as he is entangled in the worldly matters is like the one who quenches a fire using straws. When the devil finds the man preoccupied by the physical things beyond his necessity he steals as a prey the fruit of knowledge. Then as if he beheaded him, he destroys his faith in God.

5. of saint Diadochus [of Photice]

The soul which did not free itself of the worldly worries would neither love God for real nor be disgusted by the devil as it should. Since the worry of life is like a burdening cover. That’s why in the middle of worries, the mind cannot know its power to think about them in order to examine and decide accordingly. All these teach us that the retreat from the world is useful.

There are very few who know in detail all their mistakes and whose mind is never distracted from the prayer to God. Our physical eyes when they are healthy can see everything even the mosquitoes and the insects that fly in the air. But when they are affected by a disorder or a cataract if something comes across their way they see that hazily and they are not able to distinguish the small things with their sight. It is the same with the soul: if  the blur of the spiritual sight coming from the attachment to the world is diminished by prayer and it sees its most insignificant mistakes as very big then it will spring many tears in great thankfulness. Because the righteous will confess Your name. But if it remains attached to the spirit of the world, even if it committed a murder or something deserving a great punishment the soul hardly feels it. And in what regards the other sins it cannot notice anything on the contrary many times considers them great deeds. For this reason speaking warmly about them is possessed by callousness.

6. of saint Barsanuphius

A brother asked an Elder : `If I hear that someone is fought by the devil or is sick I empathize with him somehow, so tell me, Father, this empathy is good or is it from the devils who try to distract me from the heed at my own sins? Then am I obliged to pray for my brother even if I am in a greater danger and in greater sins? And if he asks this from me or asks me to tell about him to one of the Elders, what will I do? When someone who is possessed by passions prays for his neighbor, doesn’t he learn from this how to love?`

The elder answered: `The elders taught the novices that nobody should leave their own dead and go to cry for another. Since only the virtuous can empathize with their neighbor. And for the novice to empathize with another is a mocking of the devils. Because he judges mindlessly the people and the things as well and has no straight reasonabless. For this reason many times the good and useful ones seem to him bad and useless. And even if in his heart he ever mentions any of those who are helpless or suffer a grief or he is told about that one by someone else then he should say: May God have mercy on me and on him as well.` He should not ask any of the Elders to pray for someone, cause this would mean to use his own will.

But if he still wants to do something he should only say to his Elder: This one is upset. ` And the Elder hearing that will pray for sure for the one who suffers spiritually. But if someone asks you to tell your Elder about him, tell him, since it is a request. And say praying: `God forgive us`, or ` Cover us in this`. To empathize with someone else for the love of God is something you haven’t acquired yet nor have you reached that level. When you are troubled by a thought about someone then as an Elder and you will find what you are due to do.

7. From Patericon

  • A brother said to abba Cronius: `Father, tell me a word, how to save my soul? And the Elder told him: `When Elishah came to the Samaritan woman found her having nothing to do with anyone and she gave birth due to the coming of Elishah. The brother asked: `What means this word?` And the elder said: `The landlord of the region wanted once to see abba Pimen but the elder didn’t receive guests. Than that one finding a reason caught the son of the elder’s sister and threw him in jail as he had been an evil doer saying: `If the Elder comes and ass me to free him, I do it. Abba Pimen’s sister came to the gate of the cell crying but he didn’t give her any answer. She accused him: Heart of stone! Have mercy on me because he is my only child.` And he sent someone to tell her: `Pimen did not beget sons.` And the woman not succeeding in anything left. The soul if it has vigilance collecting itself from dissipation renounces at its will and then the Spirit of God comes to him and it may beget. Otherwise is sterile. Hearing the ruler sent word to the Elder: `With a single word from you if you request I free him.` And the elder said: `Searach about him according to the law. If he deserves to die, let him die. If not, do as you wish!`

8. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

  • The monk who entangles in the affairs of the world and turns his thought towards the worry for the things of the world is like one who cuts himself into pieces.
  • The monk who waits the inheritance from his parents after he left the world and became a mon would fall into temptation. But the one who seeks for the Lord will be saved. Don’t say: If I grow old where will I find my food? We are not allowed to worry for tomorrow and you worry by now for the senectute ? Let us see the kingdom of God and His justice and all these shall be added to us; since the One who promise dis no liar. If we don’t seek these first it is obvious that we don’t strive for them. Leave your worry to God and He shall feed you. If God will increase something in your hands take care of that cause you will have to give answer to the One who gave it to you.

9. of saint Barsanuphius

A brother who lived in a monastery asked an elder saying : `A wronged  widow sent me word asking me to write to the governor to help her. I have two things about these. One of them tells me: You came here to die to the world and if you don’t write to her you disregard the command that asks us to help those in need. `Tell me, father, what to do?`

The elder said: If you had been dead and a wronged widow came to you, could you help her? Obviously not. If you help this one there will come another one asking the same thing and then you will disobey the command. The dead doesn’t care of anything like these. And even if they grumble against you, you will not be harmed at all.


[1]   Magistrian – public clerck in the service of the magistrate, dignitary of the royal court.

[2]   Cf. Lc. 14,33.

[3]    in Greek the noun `soul` is of female gender while `mind` is of masculine gender, fact that makes clearer the following comparison.

[4]   In. 15,4.

[5]   Rm. 8,35-39.

[6]  in the text: „Domestic” (gr. Δομέστικος) = high rank dignitary

Excerpt from the book EVERGHETINOS – the first edition 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 24. Metropolis Press Publishing, Athens, Greece, 2007.

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