On the subject of Discernment

A brother who had withdrawn and taken the habit shut himself up immediately, saying, “I am an anchorite.’ When they heard him say this, the old men came to drive him away and made him go the round of all the brethern’s cells, bowing before them and saying, “forgive me, for I am not an anchorite, but a beginner.”

Narratives Leading Us to Endurance and stability

An old man lived in the desert in a cell twelve miles from the water. Every time he went to draw water he toiled and said, “What good is this labor? I will go and live close to the water.” Saying this, He turned back and saw someone who was going with him and counting his steps and he asked, “Who are you?” He said, “I am the angel of the Lord, and I have been sent to count your steps and to give you your reward.” When he heard this, the old man was reassured and became more courageous, and he went and settled five miles further off.

The Feast of the Cross

Why do we need a relationship with the Cross?

1. Protection

2. Reminder of Salvation

3. Witness for our fellowship

4. Our Identity

5. True symbol of Love

6. Our gate to heaven

7.Sacrifice

8. Remembrance of all Jesus did for us

9.  Carrying our cross

10.  Blessings of the New Testament

11. Excorcism

12. Strength in tribulation

13. Treatment for the sinner

14.  To control evil desires/habits

15. Prayer

16. Make the sign of the cross before every action; even answering the phone

We are called to be crucified and not only partake of the power of the Cross.

Crucified to the "world" (Galations 6:14); meaning of the "world": geographic, people, bad desires

Is the world alive in my eyes?

If it is; then I am affected by it; tempted, moved by small things.  If the world is truly crucified in my eyes. It's dead, not is appealilng in it in my eyes.  Voluntary death: choosing to have a spiritual life. Involuntary death: succumbing to our bodies; therefore having eternal death.  The Cross is the key to the Resurrection.
The Christian life is the life of Resurrection; you can't have the Resurrection with the Cross.

Galations 5:24: "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Crucify your mind while reading the Bible.  Your faith satisfies your mind (gives you peace of mind) but your mind can not strengthen your your faith.

Crucify your eyes when you are tempted by lust.

How to Deal with the Warefare which Lust Arouses in Us (2)

A brother at Scetis was a good fighter.  The enemy suggested the rememberance of a very beautiful woman to him and he was much afflicted by it.  Providentially, another brother who went to Scetis from Egypt said to him, while they were speaking together, "The wife of so and so is dead." Now it was the woman about whom the ascetic had experienced the conflict.  When he heard this, he took his cloak and went to open her tomb by night; he soaked teh cloak in the decomposing body. Then he returned to his cell bringing this bad smell with him, and he strove against his thoughts, saying, "here is the desire you are seeking, you have it, be satisfied." And he chastised himself by means of that bad smell until the warfare in him ceased.

Lustful Temptations

The old men used to say that the temptation to lust is like a hook.  If it is suggested to us and we do not let ourselves be overcome by it, it is easily cut off; but if, once it is presented, we take pleasure in it and let ourselves be overcome, it transforms itself and becomes like iron and is difficult to cut off.  Thus discernment is needed about these thoughts, because for those who allow themselves to be seduced there is no hope of salvation, whereas crowns are prepared for the others.

God crowns us for resisting even the small temptations

There was an old man in the Thebaid who lived in a cave and who had an experienced disciple. Now it was the old man’s custom to give him some advice for his benefit every evening and then to say a prayer and send him to bed. One day, knowing the old man’s great ascesis, some devout seculars went to see him and he edified them. When they had gone, the old man sat down again in the evening, according to custom, and admonished the brother, but while he was speaking to him, he fell asleep. The brother waited for the old man to wake up and say the prayer. Having sat for a long time, when the old man did not awaken, he was troubled by the thought of going to rest without being sent, but he did violence to himself, resisted the thought, and remained. Later the same thought assailed him, but he did not go away, and thus he resisted this temptation seven times. After this, the night being well advanced, the old man awoke and found him sitting beside him. He said to him, “Haven’t you gone yet?” He said, “No, abba, for you haven’t sent me.” And the old man aid, “Why did you not wake me up?” He siad “I did not dare to wake you, so as not to disturb you.” They arose and recited the dawn prayers, and after the synaxis the old man dismissed the brother and sat down alone. At that time he was rapt in ecstasy, and someone showed him a wonderful place where there was a throne and on the throne seven crowns. He asked him who was showing, “Whose is that?” He said to him, “It is your disciple’s; God has granted this place and the throne to him because os his obedience; as for the seven crowns, he wore them this night.” When he heard this the old man was filled with wonder, and in his astonishment he called the brother and said to him, “Tell me what you have done this night.” The other said, “Forgive, abba, I have done nothing.” Thinking that through humility he did not want to say anything, the old man said to him, “I will not let you go till you have told me what you have done and what you have thought this night.” The brother, who thought he had not done anything, did not know what to say. So he said to his father, “Abba, I have done nothing except this: Seven times I was oppressed by the thought of going away before you had dismissed me, and I did not go.” When he heard this the old man understood that God had crowned him as many times as he had resisted the temptation. He said nothing to the brother, but he related it to the spiritual Fathers for their benefit, so that we may know that God grants us crowns even for small things. Truly it is good to constrain oneself for God’s sake. In truth the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take possession of it. (Matt 11:12)

On the subject of Discernment

A brother said to a great old man, “Abba, I wan to find an old man to my liking and die with him.” And the old man said to him, “My lord, much good may your search do you!” But the brother was profoundly convinced that it really was good, and did not ponder the old man’s saying. When the old man saw that he thought he was really looking for something good, he said to him, “if you find an old man after your own mind,will you stay with him?” The other said, “Yes, altogether, if I find him to my liking.” The old man said to him, “perhaps it is not that you will follow the old man’s will, but that he will follow yours, that will give you peace?” The the brother arose, realizing what he said, bowed before him and said, “Forgive me, I was conceited thinking I had said something good when it was actually nothing.”

On Fearing God

A brother came to see an old man and asked him, "abba, why is my heart so hard, and why do I not fear God?" The old man said to him, "in my opinion, if a man bears in mind the reproaches he deserves, he will acquire the fear of God." The brother said to him, "What does this reproach consist of?" The old man said to him, "In all he does, a man should restrain his own soul, saying to it, "Remember that you must come before God", and he should also say to himself, "What have I to do with the others?"  I think that if someone lives in this way, the fear of God will come to him.