From ‘The Desert Fathers’ translated by Helen Waddell (Constable, London. 1936)
There were two old men living together in one cell, and never had there risen even the paltriest contention between them. So the one said to the other, “Let us have one quarrel the way other men do.” But the other said, “I do not know how one makes a quarrel.” The first said, “Look, I set a tile between us and say, ‘That is mine’, and do thou say, ‘It is not thine, it is mine.’ And thence arises contention and squabble.” So they set the tile between them, and the first one said, “That is mine.” And the second made reply: "I hope that is mine.” And the first said, “It is not thine: it is mine” To which the second made answer, “If it is thine, take it.” After which they could find no way of quarrelling.
Certain brothers were sitting near the abbot Poeman; and one brother began praising another, saying, “That brother is a good man, for he hates evil.” The old man spoke and said, “And what is it, to hate evil?” He knew not how to answer: and himself asked, saying, “Tell me Father, what is it to hate evil?” And the old man said, “He hates evil, who hates his own sins, and who blesseth and loveth every one of his brethren.”
An old man was asked by a certain soldier if God received a penitent man. And after heartening him with many words, he said to him at the last, “Tell me, beloved, if thy cloak were torn, wouldst throw it away?” The old man said to him, “If thou wouldst spare thy garment, shall not God have mercy on His own image?”
The abbot Pastor said, “If a man has sinned and denies it not, but says ‘I have sinned,’ scold him not, for thou wilt break the purpose of his heart. But rather say to him, ‘Be not sad, my brother, but watch thyself hereafter,’ and thou wilt rouse his heart to repentance.”
The abbot Antony, being at a loss in his meditation on the depth of the judgements of God, prayed, saying,”Lord, how comes it that some die in so short space of life, and some live to the further side of decrepit old age: and wherefore are some in want, and others rich with various means of wealth, and how are the unrighteous rich and the righteous oppressed by poverty?” And a voice came to him saying, “Antony, turn thine eyes upon thyself: for these are the judgments of God, and the knowledge of them is not for thee.”
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