Many times behind the apparent illogicality
of a paradox, there is a deep meaning. The
early monks that lived in the deserts of
Syria and Egypt in the third and fourth century
are full of these paradoxes. Their lives
still shine like bright stars in a dark night.
A brother went to see Abba Macarius
'Father, for thirty years I have not
meat and I would like to continue'.
man said: 'don't tell me my child that
have spent thirty years without eating
This is not important. But tell me
how many days have you spent without
ill of your brother? Without judging
neighbor? Without letting useless words
your lips? The brother bowed and said:
for me, Father, so I can begin again'.
The brothers went one day to visit
and found outside his hermitage some
who were watching over the grazing
and shouting offensive words. After
had told him their thoughts and received
his advice, they said to the Abba:
you put up with these children and
demand that they shut up?' And the
to them: 'Truly, brothers, there are
when I want to go out and give them
an order, but then I reproach myself,
if I can't put up with such a small
how am I going to cope with a really
temptation, if it should come along?
why I say nothing: so I'll get used
up with whatever happens'. Real wisdom.
A brother was accused of sinning and
brothers asked Abba Moses what should
done. He remained silent and then got
and filled a tattered sack with sand.
put this on his back and meanwhile
a small sachet of sand in his hands.
fathers asked what this meant and he
'the big sack on my back is the stack
my sins - I carry this behind me so
see it; the sand flows out unnoticed
is lost from sight. This little sachet
the sins of my brother. I hold it before
me so I can see it and spend my time
them. Surely this is not the way to
Should I not rather carry mine in front
me, keeping my sins always in sight
God's pardon and the sin of others
me so that I can forget them easily?'
insight of one's reality is a good
to start building our edifice of holiness.
Some of the old monks came to Abba
and asked him: 'In your opinion, when
see the brothers getting drowsy at
prayers, should we shake them to keep
awake during the vigil?' He said to
'As for me, when I see a brother getting
drowsy, I put his head on my knees
him rest'. What tenderness!
Their vicinity to God gave them the
to pray thus, "Lord, your Beauty
me. Draw me constantly nearer to you,
Love. The contraptions of this world
too transitory to satisfy the deep-seated
desires of my heart!"
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
granted for any non-commercial use,
that the content is unaltered from
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