The Shepherd, September 2006
FROM THE FATHERS
“ON ONE OCCASION a brother came to a father (Abba Poemen) and said unto him, ‘Abba, I sow a field, and I reap the harvest therefrom, and I give alms also thereof.’ And the Elder said unto him, ‘Be strong, my son, thou doest well.’ So the brother went away rejoicing in this desire. And Abba Job said unto Abba Poemen, ‘Since thou hast spoken unto that brother in this fashion, thou dost not fear God.’ Then, after two days, Abba Poemen sent and called that brother, and said unto him while Abba Job was listening, ‘What didst thou say unto me when thou camest unto me, for my mind was occupied in another place? The brother said unto him, ‘I sow a field, and I reap the harvest therefrom, and I give alms also thereof.’ And Abba Poemen said unto him, ‘I thought in my mind that it was they brother, who is in the world, of whom thou wast speaking when thou didst tell me that he did these things; but if it be thou thyself who doest them I must say that it is not the work for monks.’ And when the brother heard these words he was grieved, and he said, ‘I cannot do without sowing, for I know not how to do any other work but this.’ Now when that brother had departed, Abba Job expressed his contrition to Abba Poemen, and said unto him, ‘Forgive me.’ Then Abba Poemen said unto him, ‘I also knew that this work was not the work of monks, but according to the measure of his desire, I gave him that wherewith I knew he would be edified, and I knew that he would thus abound in love; but now he hath departed in sorrow.’”
From the Paradise of the Fathers
“IF YOU GIVE something to one in need, let cheerfulness on your face precede the gift, and speak to him words of comfort. If you do this, your friendly look will be dearer to his mind even than a gift that is more than he needs.”
Venerable Isaac the Syrian, sixth century
“IF A MAN builds a house and leaves it without a roof, this house can’t be used at all. In the same way, if a man acquires all the virtues but not love, the house remains roofless and is of no benefit at all.”
Blessed Elder Philotheus (Zervakos), + 1980 A.D.