Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jesus' Wisdom from the Desert Fathers

Translation from Thomas Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert:

An elder said: Do not judge a fornicator if you are chaste, for if you do, you too are violating the law as much as he is.  For He who said 'thou shalt not fornicate' also said, 'thou shalt not judge.'

Malice will never drive out malice.  But if someone does evil to you, you should do good to him, so that by your good work you may destroy his malice.

An elder was asked: What does it mean, this word we read in the Bible, that the way is straight and narrow?  And the elder replied: This is the straight and narrow way: that a man should do violence to his judgments and cut off, for the love of God, the desires of his own will.  This is what was written of the Apostles: Behold we have left all things and have followed Thee.

One of the elders said, It is not because evil thoughts come to us that we are condemned, but only because we make use of evil thoughts we suffer shipwreck, but it can also happen that because of them we are crowned.

A certain brother came to Abbot Poemen and said, What ought I to do, Father?  I am in great sadness.  The elder said to him: Never despise anybody, never condemn anybody, never speak evil of anyone and the Lord will give you peace.

A brother came and stayed with a certain solitary and when he was leaving he said: Forgive me, Father, for I have  broken in upon your Rule.  But the hermit replied, saying: My Rule is to receive you with hospitality and to let you go in peace.

Abbot Pastor said: A man must breathe humility and the fear of God just as ceaselessly as he inhales and exhales the air.

One of the elders was asked what was humility and he said: If you forgive a brother who has injured you before he himself asked pardon.

A brother asked one of the elders: What is humility?  The elder answered him: To do good to those who do evil to you.  The brother asked: Supposing a man cannot go that far, what should he do?  The elder replied: Let him get away from them and keep his mouth shut.

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