A Christmas present: links to the texts of The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, a series of commentaries, critical in perspective but intended for the general reader, published mostly in the decades leading up to the First World War. I have read some of them over the past few years; they have been useful to me in my capacity as a teacher of Old and New Testaments at The Lyceum near Cleveland. I believe this is a complete list, though there may still be gaps; e.g., it is possible that volumes were published on other books of the Apocrypha besides First Maccabees, but I have been unable to find them. The Wikipedia has further links and information on the series.

An Introduction to the Pentateuch: A. T. Chapman (1911).
The Book of Genesis : Herbert E. Ryle (1914). [Not whole view of book. See full text at HathiTrust.]
The Book of Exodus : G. R. Driver (1911).
The Book of Leviticus: A. T. Chapman and A. W. Streane (1914).
The Book of Numbers : A. H. McNeile (1911).
The Book of Deuteronomy : George Adam Smith (1918).
The Book of Joshua : G. F. Maclear (1880).
The Book of Judges : G. A. Cooke (1913).
The Book of Ruth : G. A. Cooke (1913).
The First Book of Samuel : A. F. Kirkpatrick (1880).
The Second Book of Samuel : A. F. Kirkpatrick (1894).
The First Book of the Kings : J. Rawson Lumby (1890).
The Second Book of the Kings : J. Rawson Lumby (1889).
The Books of Chronicles : William Emery Barnes (1899).
The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah : Herbert Edward Ryle (1907).
The Book of Esther : A. W. Streane (1907).
The Book of Job : A. B. Davidson (1889).
The Book of Psalms: Book I (Psalms I-XLI) : A. F. Kirkpatrick (1891).
The Book of Psalms (whole) : A. F. Kirkpatrick (1906).
The Proverbs : T. T. Perowne (1899).
Ecclesiastes : E. H. Plumptre (1898).
The Song of Solomon : Andrew Harper (1902).
The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel : A. B. Davidson (1892).
The Book of Daniel : S. R. Driver (1900).
Hosea : T. H. Cheyne (1892).
The Books of Joel and Amos : S. R. Driver (1897).
Jonah : T. T. Perowne (1879).
Micah : T. K. Cheyne (1882).
Haggai and Zechariah : T. T. Perowne (1902).
Malachi : T. T. Perowne (1890).
The First Book of Maccabees : F. Fairweather and J. Sutherland Black (1908).
The Gospel According to St. Mark : G. F. Maclear (1879).
The Gospel According to St. Luke : F. W. Farrar (1910).
The Gospel According to St John : A. Plummer (1896).
The Acts of the Apostles : J. Rawson Lumby (1891).
The Epistle to the Galatians : E. H. Perowne (1900).
The Epistle to the Ephesians : H. C. G. Moule (1902).
The Epistles to the Thessalonians : George C. Findlay (1908).
The Epistles to Timothy and Titus : A. E. Humphreys (1895).
The General Epistle of St. James : E. H. Plumptre (1901).
The Epistles of S. John : A. Plummer (1906).
The Revelation of S. John the Divine : Rev. William Henry Simcox (1891).

The other day a friend of mine, Jesse Anderson, posted a video of a speech that was recorded three years ago at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas, given by a Syriac priest from Mosul, Iraq, Fr. Bashar (it’s unclear to me what his last name is; it sounds as though he is introduced as Fr. Bashar al-Sham Sham Shamadi, but it’s possible that the person introducing him is stuttering). Although the video is three years old, it deserves to be watched; it is a powerful statement of what the Christians of northern Iraq have had to endure under the hegemony of the Islamic State. Although I do not usually post videos on this website, I will make an exception here, because I think Fr. Bashar’s speech deserves a wide audience.

Origen on Adam and Eve

September 15, 2017

Origen, De Principiis, iv. 16 = Philocalia Origenis, p. 24. (Translation, with original text on facing side, in H. M. Gwatkin, Selections from Early Christian Writers, London 1897, pp. 136-139.)

What intelligent person would fancy, for instance, that a first, second, and third day, evening and morning, took place without sun, moon, and stars; and the first, as we call it, without even a heaven? Who would be so childish as to suppose that God after the manner of a human gardener planted a garden in Eden towards the east, and made therein a tree, visible and sensible, so that one could get the power of living by the bodily eating of its fruit with the teeth; or again, could partake of good and evil by feeding on what came from that other tree? If God is said to walk at eventide in the garden, and Adam to hide himself under the tree, I fancy that no one will question that these statements are figurative, declaring mysterious truths by the means of a seeming history, not one that took place in a bodily form. And Cain’s going forth from the presence of God, as is clear and plain to attentive minds, stirs the reader to look for the meaning of the presence of God, and of any one’s going forth from it. What need of more, when all but the dullest eyes can gather innumerable instances, in which things are recorded as having happened which did not take place in the literal sense? Nay, even the Gospels are full of sayings of the same class: as when the devil takes Jesus up into a high mountain, to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world and the glory of them. Who but a careless reader of such words would fail to condemn those who think that by the eye of flesh, which needed a height to bring into view what lay far down beneath, the kingdoms of Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were seen, and the glory men give to their rulers? Countless cases such as this the accurate reader is able to observe, to make him agree that with the histories which literally took place other things are interwoven which did not actually happen.

Note that the above passage is cited in the Philocalia Origenis, an anthology of Origen’s writings made by Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian with the intention of defending Origen’s essential orthodoxy. Compare Gregory the Theologian, Poem 1.1.8 “On the Soul,” lines 97-111 (PG 37, 454-455):

But when the imperishable Son had formed for himself a man,
in order to have new glory, and so that, in the last days,
leaving the earth, man might journey from here to God, as god,
he neither left him at liberty, nor utterly
bound him. But he placed a law in his nature, and engraved good things
in his heart, and set him, thus, in the vales of an ever-verdant
paradise, evenly balanced, observing which direction he’d incline.
Naked he was, without the form of evil and duplicity.
And, as for paradise, it is the heavenly life, it seems to me.
So this is where he placed him, to be a farmer, cultivating his words.
He kept from him one plant, a most perfect one,
having within it a perfect discrimination between good
and evil. For what’s perfect is suited for grown-ups,
but not for beginners; since this would be as hard to take
as were some very powerful dish to infants.

When St. Gregory says here that, “as for paradise, it is the heavenly life, it seems to me” (Ζωὴ δ᾽ οὐρανίη πέλεται παράδεισος ἔμοιγε), and that Adam spent his time cultivating God’s λόγοι — i.e., contemplating the eternal forms of things (cf. orat. 38.12, PG 36.324 B: Adam was placed in paradise “to till the immortal plants, by which is meant perhaps the Divine Conceptions, both the simpler and the more perfect”) — it seems clear that the Theologian basically accepts Origen’s interpretation of Adam and the Garden, as a kind of parable and not as something to be read strictly literally.

Deir ez-Zor

September 7, 2017

The Empire and its minions tried to push their weight around.
They had their mercenaries and advisers on the ground.
They thought that they would win this way their dirty proxy war,
But it all was brought to nothing by the men of Deir ez-Zor.

The fog of propaganda from the media machine
Keeps telling people not to trust what their own eyes have seen.
It calls “fake news” whatever facts its narrative won’t bear
And mesmerizes millions with an empty Russian scare.

But I’ll thank God for Putin and his fighting Russian jets
That bombed the hordes of ISIS down to hell with no regrets,
And thank God for Bashar Assad, and for the SAA,
And the suffering Syrian people who have longed to see this day.

The wheel of God grinds slowly, but it grinds exceeding small.
The evil that men do rebounds and hastens their own fall.
Now the warmongers in Washington are feeling mighty sore:
They’ve had their asses walloped by the men of Deir ez-Zor.


ר֛וּחַ אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִ֖ה עָלָ֑י יַ֡עַן מָשַׁח֩
יְהוָ֨ה אֹתִ֜י לְבַשֵּׂ֣ר עֲנָוִ֗ים שְׁלָחַ֙נִי֙
לַחֲבֹ֣שׁ לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי־לֵ֔ב לִקְרֹ֤א לִשְׁבוּיִם֙
דְּר֔וֹר וְלַאֲסוּרִ֖ים פְּקַח־קֽוֹחַ׃
לִקְרֹ֤א שְׁנַת־רָצוֹן֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה וְי֥וֹם נָקָ֖ם
לֵאלֹהֵ֑ינוּ לְנַחֵ֖ם כָּל־אֲבֵלִֽים׃
לָשׂ֣וּם׀ לַאֲבֵלֵ֣י צִיּ֗וֹן לָתֵת֩ לָהֶ֨ם פְּאֵ֜ר
תַּ֣חַת אֵ֗פֶר שֶׁ֤מֶן שָׂשׂוֹן֙ תַּ֣חַת אֵ֔בֶל מַעֲטֵ֣ה
תְהִלָּ֔ה תַּ֖חַת ר֣וּחַ כֵּהָ֑ה וְקֹרָ֤א לָהֶם֙ אֵילֵ֣י
הַצֶּ֔דֶק מַטַּ֥ע יְהוָ֖ה לְהִתְפָּאֵֽר׃

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;
because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Today marks the tenth anniversary of this blog. (See the first two posts, John Bekkos in jail and Happy New Year.) It is also the beginning of the ecclesiastical year (year 7526 according to the Byzantine calendar), and a day, at least since 1989, on which prayers are made in the Orthodox Church for the welfare of the creation. (See the Vespers for the Preservation of Creation, composed by Monk Gerasimos of the Skete of Saint Anne and translated into English by the late Archimandrite Ephrem Lash.) The observance of September 1st as a day for prayer on behalf of the physical creation has, in recent years, spread from the Orthodox Church to other Christians; in 2015, Pope Francis instituted it as a day of observance for Catholics, Protestants appear to be observing it as well, and it now is referred to, at least in some places, as “the World Day of Prayer for Creation.” In connection with this, Pope Francis of Rome and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople jointly issued a statement today, which I think is worth reading, and will reprint here:


On the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.

However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behavior towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.

The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work toward sustainable and integral development.

Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on September 1st. On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labor in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps. 126-127), if prayer is not at the center of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.

We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.

From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

There are, of course, plenty of people who deny that there exists an ecological crisis or that human-induced climate change is a reality or is anything to be concerned about. Frankly, I wonder how such people can look at what happened in Texas and Louisiana this past week and not change their minds.

I recognize that minds do not change easily. That is precisely why prayer is called for. Μετάνοια (“repentance,” literally, “a change of mind”), as St. Augustine saw, is not just a rational choice of a perfectly free moral agent: it is the movement of an enslaved moral agent into a state of freedom, and that movement requires a divine intervention, which he called grace. It may be that some would cavil at the implications of this: I seem to be implying that one’s response to the environment is a moral matter, and that those who refuse to see this are not merely intellectually in error, but morally blind. Well, so be it; on this matter, I agree with the Pope and the Patriarch.

May this year be, for all of us, a year of grace and repentance, the acceptable year of the Lord.


[source: De Onsoño – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50496270]

I learned earlier this year about the death, a year and a half ago, of Juan Nadal Cañellas (7 October 1934 – 16 January 2016). He was a Spaniard, born in Mallorca, a Jesuit priest of the Byzantine rite, archimandrite of the Byzantine monastery of Santa Petronila de Orient in Mallorca, and one of the most important Byzantine scholars of the past generation. He was, it appears, the person who advocated to Pope Paul VI the removal of the filioque clause from Catholic churches of the Greek rite, a change which formally took place in the year 1972. His main field of research was the life and writings of Gregory Akindynos, an early friend of Gregory Palamas who later became one of his main opponents. Nadal Cañellas edited Akindynos’s major writings and wrote some important studies on Akindynos’s thought; one of the most notable results of his research is to have established that Akindynos actually was himself a practicing hesychast and the spiritual advisor to the Princess Irene-Eulogia Choumnia.

So far as I am aware, almost none of Nadal Cañellas’s writings are to be found in English. Back in 2009, I published on this blog an excerpt from his historical introduction to his French translation of Akindynos’s four Antirrhetic Treatises against Gregory Palamas, under the title Nadal Cañellas on Meyendorff. Today, I have posted to the blog a new page (see the sidebar). It contains a translation of an article by Nadal Cañellas titled “Le rôle de Grégoire Akindynos dans la controverse hésychaste du XIVe siècle à Byzance,” which was published in 2007 in the volume Eastern Crossroads: Essays on Medieval Christian Legacy edited by Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, pp. 31-58. The article is a kind of abridgment and popularization of a book Nadal Cañellas published in 2006, the second volume of his study La résistance d’Akindynos à Grégoire Palamas. Enquête historique, avec traduction et commentaire de quatre traités édités récemment; it consists of a long historical commentary upon the works of which, in the first volume, he gave a translation.

Nadal Cañellas clearly had some major disagreements with the late Fr. John Meyendorff over matters both theological and historical. If Gregory Palamas is the great hero of Meyendorff’s historical researches, he is, for Nadal Cañellas, a much more questionable figure. To give one example: in his article, Nadal Cañellas gives two citations from Akindynos describing two occasions on which Palamas and his supporters sought to have Akindynos murdered. He also, near the end of the article, mentions that Akindynos died very soon after Kantakouzenos’s triumphant entry into Constantinople in the year 1347, a change in political circumstances which put the party of the Palamites in power; we have no explicit information about how Akindynos died, but, given the two previous murder attempts, it is difficult to refrain from speculating.

I never met Nadal Cañellas, and was sorry to learn that he had died; I had hoped one day to meet him. His photograph, in the Spanish Wikipedia article and in an obituary from the Diario de Mallorca, presents a bearded face that reminds me strangely of Don Quixote. Perhaps the idea of changing people’s minds about Akindynos is not unlike jousting with windmills.

Αἰωνία αὐτοῦ ἡ μνήμη.


A postscript. I speculate above that Akindynos may have died at the hands of those who had tried to kill him before, the party of the Palamites. I should make it clear that that is in fact my own speculation, not that of Juan Nadal Cañellas; neither in the article which I have translated, nor in the monograph (La résistance d’Akindynos à Grégoire Palamas) of which this essay is an abridgment, does Nadal Cañellas speculate one way or the other as to how Akindynos died. In La résistance d’Akindynos à Grégoire Palamas, pp. 284-285, he provides the sole piece of definite information we possess about when and how Akindynos died: it occurs in a note in Philotheos Kokkinos’s Treatise VII against Gregoras. In the note, Philotheos states that, a year after his ordination as Metropolitan of Heraclea (which took place sometime between May and August 1347), he wanted to meet Gregoras, an opponent of Palamism about whom he had heard a great deal, “since Akindynos, the promoter and defender of the impiety after the first one (Barlaam), was already out of the way, having passed most wickedly from this life along with his heresy” (ὁ γὰρ τῆς δυσσεβείας μετὰ τὸν πρῶτον ἔξαρχος καὶ προστάτης Ἀκίνδυνος ἦν ἐκποδὼν ἤδη κάκιστα σὺν τῇ αἱρέσει τὸν βίον μετηλλαχώς). The English Wikipedia article on Akindynos suggests that Akindynos may have died as the result of the plague that broke out in 1348.

Secondly, since the blog format may not be an ideal way of reading Juan Nadal Cañellas’s article, I am supplying here a link to the same text, on Google Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zQV60b6LP2Dj-u01xFoJoW-wTQBYkrw6_CHUczLkLaw/edit?usp=sharing

Years ago, my parish priest, the late Fr. George Mamangakis, recommended that I read St. Basil’s letters. Having come across this letter “To Chilo, his disciple” today, I can see what he probably had in mind. This is simply the old Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation, with the Greek and English in parallel columns. The Greek text is taken from PG 32, 348 A360 B.

42.1 Σωτηρίου πράγματος αἴτιος γενήσομαί σοι, ὦ γνήσιε ἀδελφέ, εἰ ἡδέως συμβουλευθείης παρ’ ἡμῶν τὰ πρακτέα, μάλιστα περὶ ὧν ἡμᾶς αὐτὸς παρεκάλεσας συμβουλεῦσαί σοι. Τὸ μὲν γὰρ κατάρξασθαι τοῦ μονήρους βίου πολλοῖς ἴσως τετόλμηται, τὸ δὲ ἀξίως ἐπιτελέσαι ὀλίγοις τάχα που πεπόνηται. Καὶ πάντως οὐκ ἐν προθέσει μόνον τὸ τέλος ὑπάρχει, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ τέλει τὸ κέρδος τῶν πεπονημένων. Οὐκοῦν οὐδὲν ὄφελος τοῖς μὴ πρὸς τὸ τοῦ σκοποῦ τέλος ἐπειγομένοις, ἄχρι δὲ τῆς ἀρχῆς μόνης ἱστῶσι τὸν τῶν μοναχῶν βίον· οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ καταγέλαστον καταλιμπάνουσι τὴν ἑαυτῶν πρόθεσιν, ἀνανδρίας καὶ ἀβουλίας παρὰ τῶν ἔξωθεν ἐγκαλούμενοι. Φησὶ γὰρ καὶ ὁ Κύριος περὶ τῶν τοιούτων. «Τίς, βουλόμενος πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι, οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην, εἰ ἔχει τὰ πρὸς ἀπαρτισμόν; μή ποτε, θέντος αὐτοῦ θεμέλιον καὶ μὴ ἰσχύοντος ἐκτελέσαι, ἄρξωνται ἐμπαίζειν αὐτῷ οἱ παρα πορευόμενοι λέγοντες ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος θεμέλιον ἔθηκε καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἐκτελέσαι.» Ἡ οὖν ἀρχὴ ἐχέτω τὴν προκοπὴν προθύμως ἐπὶ τῷ κατορθώματι. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ γενναιότατος ἀθλητὴς Παῦλος, βουλόμενος ἡμᾶς μὴ ἐπαμεριμνεῖν τοῖς προβεβιωμένοις ἀγαθοῖς, ἀλλ’ ὁσημέραι εἰς τὸ πρόσω προκόπτειν, λέγει· «Τῶν ὄπισθεν ἐπιλανθα νόμενος, τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος, κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω ἐπὶ τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως.» Τοιοῦτος γὰρ ὑπάρχει ὅλος ὁ τῶν ἀνθρώπων βίος, μὴ ἀρκούμενος τοῖς φθάσασιν, ἀλλὰ τρεφόμενος οὐ τοῖς φθάσασι μᾶλλον, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μέλλουσι. Τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖ ἄνθρωπον ὁ χθιζὸς τῆς γαστρὸς κόρος, σήμερον τῆς ἐμφύτου πείνης τὴν οἰκείαν τῆς βρώσεως παραμυθίαν μὴ εὑρισκούσης; Οὕτως οὖν οὐδὲ ψυχῆς κέρδος τοῦ χθεσινοῦ κατορθώματος, τῆς σημερινῆς ἀπολιμπανομένου δικαιοπραγίας. «Οἷον γὰρ εὕρω σε, φησί, τοιοῦτόν σε κρινῶ». 1. If, my true brother, you gladly suffer yourself to be advised by me as to what course of action you should pursue, specially in the points in which you have referred to me for advice, you will owe me your salvation. Many men have had the courage to enter upon the solitary life; but to live it out to the end is a task which perhaps has been achieved by few. The end is not necessarily involved in the intention; yet in the end is the reward of the toil. No advantage, therefore, accrues to men who fail to press on to the end of what they have in view and only adopt the solitary’s life in its inception. Nay, they make their profession ridiculous, and are charged by outsiders with unmanliness and instability of purpose. Of these, moreover, the Lord says, who wishing to build a house sits not down first and counts the cost whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, the passers-by begin to mock him saying, this man laid a foundation and was not able to finish. Let the start, then, mean that you heartily advance in virtue. The right noble athlete Paul, wishing us not to rest in easy security on so much of our life as may have been lived well in the past, but, every day to attain further progress, says Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (Phil 3:13-14). So truly stands the whole of human life, not contented with what has gone before and fed not so much on the past as on the future. For how is a man the better for having his belly filled yesterday, if his natural hunger fails to find its proper satisfaction in food today? In the same way the soul gains nothing by yesterday’s virtue unless it be followed by the right conduct of today. For it is said I shall judge you as I shall find you.
42.2 Οὐκοῦν μάταιος μὲν τοῦ δικαίου ὁ κόπος, ἀνέγκλητος δὲ καὶ τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ ὁ τρόπος, ἐπιγενομένης ἐναλλαγῆς, τῷ μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ κρείττονος ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, τῷ δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ χείρονος ἐπὶ τὸ κρεῖττον μεταβληθέντι. Ταῦτα καὶ τοῦ Ἰεζεκιὴλ ὡς ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Κυρίου δογματίζοντός ἐστιν ἀκοῦσαι. «Ἐὰν γάρ, φησίν, ἐκκλίνας ὁ δίκαιος πλημμελήσῃ, οὐ μὴ μνησθῶ τῶν δικαιοσυνῶν ὧν ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἀποθανεῖται.» Τὸ δὲ αὐτό φησι καὶ περὶ τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ· «Ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψας ποιήσῃ δικαιοσύνην, ζωὴν ζήσεται ἐν αὐτῇ.» Ποῦ γὰρ οἱ τοσοῦτοι Μωσῆ τοῦ θεράποντος πόνοι, τῆς ἐν στιγμῇ ἀντιλογίας παραγραψαμένης αὐτοῦ τὴν εἰς τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας εἴσοδον; Ποῦ δὲ καὶ ἡ τοῦ Γιεζῆ συναναστροφὴ πρὸς τὸν Ἐλισσαῖον, φιλοχρηματίας χάριν λέπραν ἐπισπασαμένου; Τί δὲ καὶ τοῦ πλήθους τῆς σοφίας τῷ Σολομῶντι ὄφελος καὶ ἡ προλαβοῦσα τοιαύτη ἔννοια εἰς Θεόν, ὕστερον ἐκ τῆς γυναικομανίας εἰς εἰδωλολατρείαν αὐτοῦ ἐκπεπτωκότος; Ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ τὸν μακάριον ∆αβὶδ ὁ μετεωρισμὸς ἀφῆκεν ἀνέγκλητον διὰ τὴν εἰς τὴν τοῦ Οὐρίου πλημμέλειαν. Ἤρκει δὲ καὶ ἡ τοῦ Ἰούδα ἀπὸ τοῦ κρείττονος εἰς τὸ χεῖρον μετάπτωσις πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν τοῦ κατὰ Θεὸν πολιτευομένου, ὅς, ἐν τοσούτοις χρόνοις μαθητευθεὶς τῷ Χριστῷ, ὕστερον μικρῷ λήμματι τὸν ∆ιδάσκαλον ἀπεμπολήσας ἑαυτῷ ἀγχόνην ἐπραγματεύσατο. Τοῦτο οὖν γνωστόν σοι ἔστω, ἀδελφέ, ὅτι οὐχ ὁ καλῶς ἀρχόμενος, οὗτος τέλειος, ἀλλ’ ὁ καλῶς ἀποτιθέμενος οὗτος, δόκιμος παρὰ Θεῷ. «Μὴ οὖν δῷς ὕπνον τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, ἀδελφέ, μηδὲ νυσταγμὸν σοῖς βλεφάροις», ἵνα «σωθῇς ὥσπερ δορκὰς ἐκ βρόχων καὶ ὥσπερ ὄρνεον ἐκ παγίδος.» Βλέπε γὰρ ὅτι ἐν μέσῳ παγίδων διαβαίνεις καὶ ἐπάνω τείχους ὑψηλοῦ περιπατεῖς ὅθεν οὐκ ἀκίνδυνον τῷ καταπεσόντι τὸ πτῶμα. Μὴ οὖν εὐθέως εἰς ἀκρότητα ἀσκήσεως ἐκτείνῃς σεαυτόν· μάλιστα μηδὲ θαρρήσῃς σεαυτῷ, ἵνα μὴ ἐξ ἀπειρίας ἀφ’ ὕψους τῆς ἀσκήσεως πέσῃς. Κρεῖσσον γὰρ ἡ κατ’ ὀλίγον προκοπή. Κατὰ μικρὸν οὖν κλέπτε τὰς ἡδονὰς τοῦ βίου ἐξαφανίζων σεαυτοῦ πᾶσαν συνήθειαν, μήποτε ἀθρόως πάσας ὁμοῦ ἐρεθίσας τὰς ἡδονὰς ὄχλον πειρασμῶν σεαυτῷ ἐπαγάγῃς. Ἡνίκα δ’ ἂν τοῦ ἑνὸς πάθους τῆς ἡδονῆς κατὰ κράτος περιγένῃ, πρὸς τὴν ἑτέραν ἡδονὴν παράταξαι καὶ οὕτω πασῶν τῶν ἡδονῶν εὐκαίρως περιγενήσῃ. Ἡδονῆς γὰρ ὄνομα μὲν ἕν, πράγματα δὲ διάφορα. Τοίνυν, ἀδελφέ, ἔσο πρῶτον μὲν ὑπομονητικὸς πρὸς πάντα πειρασμόν. Πειρασμοῖς δὲ ποταποῖς δοκιμάζεται ὁ πιστός, ζημίαις κοσμικαῖς, ἐγκλήμασι, καταψεύσμασιν, ἀπειθείαις, καταλαλιαῖς, διωγμοῖς; Εἰς ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα δοκιμάζεται ὁ πιστός. Ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ ἡσύχιος ἔσο, μὴ προπετὴς ἐν λόγῳ, μὴ ἐριστικός, μὴ φιλόνεικος, μὴ κενόδοξος, μὴ ἐξηγητικός, ἀλλὰ φιλόπιστος· μὴ ἐν λόγῳ πολύς, ἕτοιμος δὲ ἴσθι ἀεί, μὴ πρὸς διδασκαλίαν. ἀλλὰ πρὸς μάθησιν. Μὴ περιεργάζου βίους κοσμικοὺς ὅθεν οὐδέν σοι προσγίνεται ὄφελος. Φησὶ γάρ· «Ὅπως ἂν μὴ λαλήσῃ τὸ στόμα μου τὰ ἔργα τῶν ἀνθρώπων». Ὁ γὰρ ἡδέως λαλῶν τὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν ἑτοίμως καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἐξυπνίζει τὰς ἡδονάς. Μᾶλλον δὲ πολυπραγμόνει τὸν τῶν δικαίων βίον· οὕτω γὰρ ἂν εὑρή σεις ἑαυτῷ ὄφελος. Μὴ ἔσο φιλενδείκτης περιάγων τὰς κώμας ἢ τὰς οἰκίας, φεῦγε δὲ ταύτας ὡς ψυχῶν παγίδας. Εἰ δέ τις διὰ πολλὴν εὐλάβειαν προτρέπεταί σε εἰς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον πολλῶν προφάσεων ἕνεκα, μανθανέτω ὁ τοιοῦτος ἀκολουθεῖν τῇ πίστει τοῦ ἑκατοντάρχου ὅς, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ θεραπείας χάριν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐπειγομένου, παρῃτή σατο λέγων· «Κύριε, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς, ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγον καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου.» Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ εἰπόντος αὐτῷ· «Ὕπαγε, ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι», ἰάθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης. Τοῦτο οὖν γνωστόν σοι ἔστω, ἀδελφέ, ὅτι οὐχ ἡ τοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσία, ἀλλ’ ἡ πίστις τοῦ αἰτοῦντος ἠλευθέρωσε τὸν κάμνοντα. Οὕτω καὶ νῦν, σοῦ εὐχομένου ἐν ᾧ ᾖς τόπῳ καὶ τοῦ κάμνοντος πιστεύοντος ὅτι ταῖς σαῖς εὐχαῖς βοηθηθήσεται, ἀποβήσεται αὐτῷ πάντα καταθυμίως. 2. Vain then is the labour of the righteous man, and free from blame is the way of the sinner, if a change befall, and the former turn from the better to the worse, and the latter from the worse to the better. So we hear from Ezekiel teaching as it were in the name of the Lord, when he says, if the righteous turns away and commits iniquity, I will not remember the righteousness which he committed before; in his sin he shall die, and so too about the sinner; if he turn away from his wickedness, and do that which is right, he shall live. Where were all the labours of God’s servant Moses, when the gainsaying of one moment shut him out from entering into the promised land? What became of the companionship of Gehazi with Elissæus, when he brought leprosy on himself by his covetousness? What availed all Solomon’s vast wisdom, and his previous regard for God, when afterwards from his mad love of women he fell into idolatry? Not even the blessed David was blameless, when his thoughts went astray and he sinned against the wife of Uriah. One example were surely enough for keeping safe one who is living a godly life, the fall from the better to the worse of Judas, who, after being so long Christ’s disciple, for a mean gain sold his Master and got a halter for himself. Learn then, brother, that it is not he who begins well who is perfect. It is he who ends well who is approved in God’s sight. Give then no sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids that you may be delivered as a roe from the net and a bird from the snare. For, behold, you are passing through the midst of snares; you are treading on the top of a high wall whence a fall is perilous to the faller; wherefore do not straightway attempt extreme discipline; above all things beware of confidence in yourself, lest you fall from a height of discipline through want of training. It is better to advance a little at a time. Withdraw then by degrees from the pleasures of life, gradually destroying all your wonted habits, lest you bring on yourself a crowd of temptations by irritating all your passions at once. When you have mastered one passion, then begin to wage war against another, and in this manner you will in good time get the better of all. Indulgence, so far as the name goes, is one, but its practical workings are diverse. First then, brother, meet every temptation with patient endurance. And by what various temptations the faithful man is proved; by worldly loss, by accusations, by lies, by opposition, by calumny, by persecution! These and the like are the tests of the faithful. Further, be quiet, not rash in speech, not quarrelsome, not disputatious, not covetous of vain glory, not more anxious to get than to give knowledge, not a man of many words, but always more ready to learn than to teach. Do not trouble yourself about worldly life; from it no good can come to you. It is said, That my mouth speak not the works of men. The man who is fond of talking about sinners’ doings, soon rouses the desire for self indulgence; much better busy yourself about the lives of good men for so you will get some profit for yourself. Do not be anxious to go travelling about from village to village and house to house; rather avoid them as traps for souls. If any one, for true pity’s sake, invite you with many pleas to enter his house, let him be told to follow the faith of the centurion, who, when Jesus was hastening to him to perform an act of healing, besought him not to do so in the words, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed” (Mt 8:8), and when Jesus had said to him “Go your way; as you have believed, so be it done unto you” (Mt 8:13), his servant was healed from that hour. Learn then, brother, that it was the faith of the suppliant, not the presence of Christ, which delivered the sick man. So too now, if you pray, in whatever place you be, and the sick man believes that he will be aided by your prayers, all will fall out as he desires.
42.3 Πλέον δὲ τοῦ Κυρίου τοὺς οἰκείους σου μὴ ἀγαπήσεις. «Ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν, φησί, πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστι μου ἄξιος.» Τί δὲ βούλεται ἡ τοῦ Κυρίου ἐντολή; «Εἴ τις, φησίν, οὐκ αἴρει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ μοι, οὐ δύναταί μου εἶναι μαθητής.» Εἰ συναπέθανες τῷ Χριστῷ ἀπὸ τῶν συγγενῶν σου τῶν κατὰ σάρκα τί πάλιν ἐν αὐτοῖς ἀναστρέφεσθαι θέλεις; Εἰ δὲ ἃ κατέλυ σας διὰ Χριστὸν πάλιν ταῦτα οἰκοδομεῖς διὰ τοὺς συγγε νεῖς σου, παραβάτην σεαυτὸν καθιστᾷς. Μὴ οὖν διὰ χρέος τῶν συγγενῶν σου ἀναχωρήσῃς τοῦ τόπου σου· ἀναχωρῶν γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ τόπου σου ἴσως ἀναχωρήσεις ἐκ τοῦ τρόπου σου. Μὴ ἔσο ὀχλοχαρής, μὴ φιλόχωρος, μὴ φιλοπολίτης, ἀλλὰ φιλέρημος, ἐφ’ ἑαυτῷ μένων ἀεὶ ἀμετεωρίστως τὴν εὐχὴν καὶ τὴν ψαλμῳδίαν ἔργον ἡγούμενος. Μηδὲ τῶν ἀναγνωσμάτων κατολιγωρήσῃς, μάλιστα τῆς νέας ∆ιαθήκης, διὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς παλαιᾶς ∆ιαθήκης πολλάκις βλάβην ἐγγίνεσθαι, καὶ οὐχ ὅτι ἐγράφη βλαβερά, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἡ τῶν βλαπτομένων διάνοια ἀσθενής. Πᾶς γὰρ ἄρτος τρόφιμος, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀσθενοῦσιν ἐπιβλαβής. Οὕτως οὖν «πᾶσα Γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος», καὶ οὐδὲν κοινὸν δι’ αὐτῆς, εἰ μὴ τῷ λογιζομένῳ κοινὸν εἶναι ἐκείνῳ κοινόν. «Πάντα δὲ δοκίμαζε, τὸ καλὸν κάτεχε, ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ ἀπέχου.» «Πάντα γὰρ ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει.» Ἔσο οὖν τοῖς συντυγχάνουσί σοι ἐν πᾶσιν ἀπρόσκοπος, προσχαρής, φιλάδελφος, ἡδύς, ταπεινόφρων, μὴ ἐκπίπτων τοῦ σκοποῦ τῆς φιλοξενίας διὰ βρωμάτων πολυτελείας, ἀρκούμενος δὲ τοῖς παροῦσι, τῆς καθημερινῆς χρείας τοῦ μονήρους βίου μηδὲν πλέον ἀπό τινος λάβῃς· καὶ μάλιστα φύγε τὸν χρυσὸν ὡς ψυχῆς ἐπίβουλον καὶ ἁμαρτίας πατέρα, ὑπουργὸν δὲ τοῦ διαβόλου. Μὴ προφάσει τῆς εἰς τοὺς πένητας διακονίας σεαυτὸν ὑπό δικον φιλοχρηματίας καταστήσῃς. Εἰ δέ τις πτωχῶν ἕνεκα κομίσει σοι χρήματα, γνῶς δέ τινας λειπομένους, αὐτῷ ἐκείνῳ ᾧ ὑπάρχει τὰ χρήματα ἀποκομίσαι τοῖς ὑστε ρουμένοις ἀδελφοῖς συμβούλευσον, μήποτε μολύνῃ σου τὴν συνείδησιν ἡ τῶν χρημάτων ὑποδοχή. 3. You will not love your kinsfolk more than the Lord. He that loves, He says, father, or mother, or brother, more than me, is not worthy of me. What is the meaning of the Lord’s commandment? He that takes not up his cross and follows after me, cannot be my disciple? If, together with Christ, you died to your kinsfolk according to the flesh, why do you wish to live with them again? If for your kinsfolk’s sake you are building up again what you destroyed for Christ’s sake, you make yourself a transgressor. Do not then for your kinsfolk’s sake abandon your place: if you abandon your place, perhaps you will abandon your mode of life. Love not the crowd, nor the country, nor the town; love the desert, ever abiding by yourself with no wandering mind, regarding prayer and praise as your life’s work. Never neglect reading, especially of the New Testament, because very frequently mischief comes of reading the Old; not because what is written is harmful, but because the minds of the injured are weak. All bread is nutritious, but it may be injurious to the sick. Just so all Scripture is God inspired and profitable, and there is nothing in it unclean: only to him who thinks it is unclean, to him it is unclean. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. “All things are lawful but all things are not expedient” (1 Cor 6:12). Among all, with whom you come in contact, be in all things a giver of no offense, cheerful, loving as a brother (1 Peter 3:8), pleasant, humble-minded, never missing the mark of hospitality through extravagance of meats, but always content with what is at hand. Take no more from any one than the daily necessaries of the solitary life. Above all things shun gold as the soul’s foe, the father of sin and the agent of the devil. Do not expose yourself to the charge of covetousness on the pretence of ministering to the poor; but, if any one brings you money for the poor and you know of any who are in need, advise the owner himself to convey it to his needy brothers, lest haply your conscience may be defiled by the acceptance of money.
42.4 Τὰς ἡδονὰς φεῦγε, τὴν ἐγκράτειαν δίωκε, καὶ τὸ μὲν σῶμα τοῖς πόνοις ἄσκει, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς ἔθιζε. Τὴν σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς ἀνάλυσιν ἀπαλλαγὴν παντὸς κακοῦ τιθέμενος ἐκδέχου τῶν αἰωνίων ἀγαθῶν τὴν ἀπόλαυσιν ἧς πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι μέτοχοι γεγόνασι. Σὺ δὲ ἀδιαλείπτως ζυγοστατῶν ἀντιπαρατίθεσο τῇ διαβολικῇ ἐννοίᾳ τὸν εὐσεβῆ λογισμόν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τρυτάνης τῇ ῥοπῇ τῆς πλάστιγγος τούτῳ παραχωρῶν. Καὶ μάλιστα ὅταν ἐπαναστᾶσα ἡ πονηρὰ ἔννοια λέγῃ· «Τί σοι τὸ ὄφελος τῆς ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τούτῳ διαγωγῆς; Τί σοι τὸ κέρδος τῆς ἀναχωρή σεως τῆς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων συνηθείας; Ἢ οὐκ ἔγνως τοὺς παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τεταγμένους ἐπισκόπους τῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ Ἐκκλησιῶν τοῖς ἀνδράσι συνήθως συνδιαζῶντας καὶ τὰς πνευματικὰς ἀδιαλείπτως ἐπιτελοῦντας πανηγύρεις ἐν αἷς μάλιστά που τοῖς παραγενομένοις γίνεται ὄφελος; Ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἀποκαλύψεις παροιμιακῶν αἰνιγμάτων, λύσεις ἀποστολικῶν διδαγμάτων, εὐαγγελικῶν νοημάτων ἔκθεσις, θεολογίας ἀκρόασις, ἀδελφῶν πνευματικῶν συντυχίαι μεγάλην τοῖς ἐντυγχάνουσιν ἐκ τῆς θέας τοῦ προσώπου τὴν ὠφέλειαν παρεχόντων. Σὺ δὲ τοσούτων ἀγαθῶν ἀλλό τριον σεαυτὸν καταστήσας κάθησαι ἐνθάδε ἐξηγριωμένος ἴσως τοῖς θηρσίν. Ὁρᾷς γὰρ ἐνταῦθα ἠρεμίαν πολλήν, ἀπανθρωπίαν οὐκ ὀλίγην, ἀπορίαν διδασκαλίας, ἀδελφῶν ἀλλοτρίωσιν καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα περὶ τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀργίαν ἔχον πολλήν.» Ὅταν οὖν τοιαύταις καὶ τοσαύταις εὐλογοφανέσι προφάσεσιν ἐπαναστᾶσα ἡ πονηρὰ ἔννοια καταρρῆξαί σε θέλῃ, ἀντιπαράθες αὐτῇ διὰ τοῦ εὐσεβοῦς λογισμοῦ τὴν πεῖραν τοῦ πράγματος λέγων· «Ἐπειδὴ σὺ λέγεις μοι καλὰ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἶναι, διὰ τοῦτο ἐγὼ ἐνταῦθα μετῴκησα ἀνάξιον ἐμαυτὸν κρίνας τῶν τοῦ κόσμου καλῶν. Παραμέμικται γὰρ τοῖς τοῦ κόσμου καλοῖς τὰ κακά, καὶ μᾶλλον ὑπεραίρει τὰ κακά. Παραγενόμενος γάρ ποτε ἐν ταῖς πνευματικαῖς πανηγύρεσιν ἑνὶ μὲν ἀδελφῷ μόλις ποτὲ περιέτυχον, τὸ μὲν δοκεῖν, φοβουμένῳ τὸν Κύριον, κρατουμένῳ δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου, καὶ ἤκουσα παρ’ αὐτοῦ λόγους κομψοὺς καὶ μύθους πεπλασμένους εἰς ἀπάτην τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων. Πολλοῖς δὲ μετ’ αὐτὸν συνέτυχον κλέπταις, ἅρπαξι, τυράννοις. Εἶδον μεθυόντων σχῆμα ἄσχημον, τὰ αἵματα τῶν καταπονουμένων. Εἶδον δὲ καὶ κάλλος γυναικῶν βασανίζον μου τὴν σωφροσύνην. Καὶ τὸ μὲν τῆς πορνείας ἔργον διέφυγον, τὴν δὲ ἐμαυτοῦ παρθενίαν ἐμόλυνα κατὰ διάνοιαν καρδίας. Καὶ πολλῶν μὲν ἀκήκοα λόγων ψυχωφελῶν· πλὴν παρ’ οὐδενὶ τῶν διδασκά λων εὗρον ἀξίαν τῶν λόγων τὴν ἀρετήν. Μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο πάλιν μυρίων ἤκουσα τραγῳδημάτων μέλεσι τεθρυμμένοις ἐνδεδυμένων. Πάλιν ἀκήκοα κιθάρας ἡδὺ ἠχούσης, τῶν κρότων τῶν ἁλλομένων, τῆς φωνῆς τῶν γελοιαστῶν, μωρίας πολλῆς καὶ εὐτραπελίας, ὄχλου ἀμυθήτου βοῆς. Εἶδον τὰ δάκρυα τῶν συληθέντων, τὰς ὀδύνας τῶν ἀπαγομένων ὑπὸ τῆς τυραννίδος, τὴν οἰμωγὴν τῶν βασανιζομένων. Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ οὐκ ἦν πανήγυρις πνευματική, ἀλλὰ θάλασσα ἀνεμιζομένη καὶ ταραττομένη πάντας ὁμοῦ τοῖς αὐτῆς κύμασι καλύψαι σπουδάζουσα. Λέγε μοι, ὦ κακὴ ἔννοια, καὶ ὁ τῆς προσκαίρου ἡδυπαθείας τε καὶ κενοδοξίας δαίμων, τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος τῆς τούτων θεωρίας τε καὶ ἀκροάσεως, μηδενὶ τῶν ἀδικουμένων βοηθῆσαι ἰσχύοντι, μήτε δὲ τοῖς ἀδυνάτοις ἐπαμῦναι, μήτε τοὺς σφαλλομένους διορθώσασθαι συγχωρουμένῳ, τάχα δὲ μέλλοντι καὶ ἐμαυτὸν προσαπολλύειν; Ὥσπερ γὰρ ὀλίγον ὕδωρ καθαρὸν ὑπὸ πολλῆς ζάλης ἀνέμου καὶ κονιορτοῦ ἀφανίζεται, οὕτως ἃ νομίζομεν καλὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ ποιεῖν ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν κακῶν καλύπτεται. Αἱ μὲν γὰρ τραγῳδίαι ὥσπερ σκόλοπες τοῖς κατὰ τὸν βίον δι’ εὐθυμίας καὶ χαρᾶς ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν ἐμπήσσονται, ἵνα τῆς ψαλμῳδίας ἐπισκοτίσῃ τὸ καθαρόν. Αἱ δὲ οἰμωγαὶ καὶ ὁ ὀδυρμὸς τῶν ἀδικουμένων ἀνθρώπων παρὰ τῶν ὁμοφύλων ἐπάγονται, ἵνα δειχθῇ τῶν πενήτων ἡ ὑπομονή. 4. Shun pleasures; seek after continence; train your body to hard work; accustom your soul to trials. Regarding the dissolution of soul and body as release from every evil, await that enjoyment of everlasting good things in which all the saints have part. Ever, as it were, holding the balance against every suggestion of the devil throw in a holy thought, and, as the scale inclines do thou go with it. Above all when the evil thought starts up and says, What is the good of your passing your life in this place? What do you gain by withdrawing yourself from the society of men? Do you not know that those, who are ordained by God to be bishops of God’s churches, constantly associate with their fellows, and indefatigably attend spiritual gatherings at which those who are present derive very great advantage? There are to be enjoyed explanations of hard sayings, expositions of the teachings of the apostles, interpretations of the thoughts of the gospels, lessons in theology and the intercourse of spiritual brethren, who do great good to all they meet if only by the sight of their faces. You, however, who have decided to be a stranger to all these good things, are sitting here in a wild state like the beasts. You see round you a wide desert with scarcely a fellow creature in it, lack of all instruction, estrangement from your brothers, and your spirit inactive in carrying out the commandments of God. Now, when the evil thought rises against you, with all these ingenious pretexts and wishes to destroy you, oppose to it in pious reflection your own practical experience, and say, You tell me that the things in the world are good; the reason why I came here is because I judged myself unfit for the good things of the world. With the world’s good things are mingled evil things, and the evil things distinctly have the upper hand. Once when I attended the spiritual assemblies I did with difficulty find one brother, who, so far as I could see, feared God, but he was a victim of the devil, and I heard from him amusing stories and tales made up to deceive those whom he met. After him I fell in with many thieves, plunderers, tyrants. I saw disgraceful drunkards; I saw the blood of the oppressed; I saw women’s beauty, which tortured my chastity. From actual fornication I fled, but I defiled my virginity by the thoughts of my heart. I heard many discourses which were good for the soul, but I could not discover in the case of any one of the teachers that his life was worthy of his words. After this, again, I heard a great number of plays, which were made attractive by wanton songs. Then I heard a lyre sweetly played, the applause of tumblers, the talk of clowns, all kinds of jests and follies and all the noises of a crowd. I saw the tears of the robbed, the agony of the victims of tyranny, the shrieks of the tortured. I looked and lo, there was no spiritual assembly, but only a sea, wind-tossed and agitated, and trying to drown every one at once under its waves. Tell me, O evil thought, tell me, dæmon of short lived pleasure and vain glory, what is the good of my seeing and hearing all these things, when I am powerless to succour any of those who are thus wronged; when I am allowed neither to defend the helpless nor correct the fallen; when I am perhaps doomed to destroy myself too. For just as a very little fresh water is blown away by a storm of wind and dust, in like manner the good deeds, that we think we do in this life, are overwhelmed by the multitude of evils. Pieces acted for men in this life are driven through joy and merriment, like stakes into their hearts, so that the brightness of their worship is be-dimmed. But the wails and lamentations of men wronged by their fellows are introduced to make a show of the patience of the poor.
42.5 Τίς οὖν ὠφέλεια ἐμοὶ ἢ δηλονότι τῆς ψυχῆς ἡ βλάβη; ∆ιὰ τοῦτο οὖν ἐγὼ μεταναστεύω ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη ὡς στρουθίον. Ὡς στρουθίον γὰρ ἐρρύσθην ἐκ τῆς παγίδος τῶν θηρευόντων. Καὶ γὰρ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ἐρήμῳ διάγω, ὦ κακὴ ἔννοια, ἐν ᾗ ὁ Κύριος διέτριβεν. Ἐνταῦθα ἡ δρῦς ἡ Μαμβρή, ἐνταῦθα ἡ οὐρανοφόρος κλίμαξ καὶ αἱ τῶν ἀγγέλων παρεμβολαὶ αἱ τῷ Ἰακὼβ ὀφθεῖσαι, ἐνταῦθα ἡ ἔρημος ἐν ᾗ ὁ λαὸς ἁγνισθεὶς ἐνομοθετήθη καὶ οὕτως εἰς τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας εἰσελθὼν εἶδε Θεόν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ ὄρος τὸ Καρμήλιον ἐν ᾧ Ἠλίας αὐλιζόμενος τῷ Θεῷ εὐηρέστησεν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ πεδίον ἐν ᾧ ἀναχωρήσας Ἔσδρας πάσας τὰς θεοπνεύστους βίβλους προστάγματι Θεοῦ ἐξηρεύξατο. Ἐνταῦθα ἡ ἔρημος ἐν ᾗ ὁ μακάριος Ἰωάννης ἀκριδοφαγῶν μετάνοιαν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐκήρυξεν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν εἰς ὃ ὁ Χριστὸς ἀνερχόμενος προσηύχετο ἡμᾶς διδάσκων προσεύχεσθαι. Ἐνταῦθα ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ τῆς ἐρήμου φίλος. Φησὶ γάρ· «Ὅπου εἰσὶ δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.» Ἐνταῦθα ἡ στενὴ καὶ τεθλιμμένη ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν. Ἐνταῦθα διδάσκαλοι καὶ προφῆ ται, οἱ ἐν ἐρημίαις πλανώμενοι καὶ ὄρεσι καὶ σπηλαίοις καὶ ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῆς γῆς. Ἐνταῦθα ἀπόστολοι καὶ εὐαγγε λισταὶ καὶ ὁ τῶν μοναχῶν ἐρημοπολίτης βίος. Ταῦτα τοίνυν ἑκουσίως καταδέδεγμαι, ἵνα λάβω ἅπερ τοῖς μάρτυσι τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν ἁγίοις ἐπήγγελται, ἵνα ἀψευδῶς λέγω· «∆ιὰ τοὺς λόγους τῶν χειλέων σου ἐγὼ ἐφύλαξα ὁδοὺς σκληράς.» Ἔγνων γὰρ τὸν μὲν θεοφιλῆ Ἀβραὰμ τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ φωνῇ πειθόμενον καὶ εἰς τὴν ἔρημον μετοικοῦντα, καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καταδυναστευόμενον, καὶ Ἰακὼβ τὸν πατριάρχην ξενιτεύοντα, Ἰωσὴφ τὸν σώφρονα διαπι πρασκόμενον, τοὺς τῆς ἐγκρατείας εὑρετὰς τρεῖς παῖδας πυρομαχοῦντας, ∆ανιὴλ δεύτερον εἰς λάκκον λεόντων παραβαλλόμενον, τὸν παρρησιαστὴν Ἱερεμίαν εἰς λάκκον βορβόρου καταδικαζόμενον, Ἡσαίαν τὸν τῶν ἀποκρύφων θεατὴν πριζόμενον, τὸν Ἰσραὴλ αἰχμαλωτιζόμενον, Ἰωάννην τὸν τῆς μοιχείας ἔλεγχον ἀποτεμνόμενον, ἀναιρουμένους τοὺς Χριστοῦ μάρτυρας. Καὶ ἵνα τί μακρολογῶ, ὅπου γε καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Σωτὴρ ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα τῷ ἑαυ τοῦ θανάτῳ ἡμᾶς ζωοποιήσῃ καὶ πάντας ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν ὑπομονὴν ἀλείψῃ καὶ ἑλκύσῃ; Πρὸς τοῦτον ἐπείγομαι καὶ πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον. Γνήσιος εὑρε θῆναι ἀγωνίζομαι, ἀνάξιον ἐμαυτὸν κρίνας τῶν τοῦ κόσμου καλῶν. Πλὴν ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐγὼ διὰ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ὁ κόσμος δι’ ἐμέ.» Ταῦτα οὖν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἐπιλογιζόμενος καὶ τελῶν αὐτὰ σπουδαίως κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον σοι, ἀγώνισαι ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας ἕως θανάτου. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς ὑπήκοος γέγονε μέχρι θανάτου. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Ἀπόστολός φησι· «Βλέπετε μήποτε ἔσται ἔν τινι ὑμῶν καρδία πονηρὰ εἰς τὸ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ζῶντος, ἀλλὰ ἀλλήλους παρακαλεῖτε καὶ εἷς τὸν ἕνα οἰκοδομεῖτε ἄχρις οὗ τὸ σήμερον λέγεται.» Τὸ γὰρ σήμερον σημαίνει ὅλον τὸν χρόνον τῆς ζωῆς ἡμῶν. Οὕτως οὖν πολιτευόμενος, ἀδελφέ, καὶ σεαυτὸν σώσεις καὶ ἡμᾶς εὐφρανεῖς καὶ τὸν Θεὸν δοξάσεις εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. 5. What good then do I get except the loss of my soul? For this reason I migrate to the hills like a bird. I am escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers. I am living, O evil thought, in the desert in which the Lord lived. Here is the oak of Mamre; here is the ladder going up to heaven, and the stronghold of the angels which Jacob saw; here is the wilderness in which the people purified received the law, and so came into the land of promise and saw God. Here is Mount Carmel where Elias sojourned and pleased God. Here is the plain whither Esdras withdrew, and at God’s bidding uttered all the God inspired books. Here is the wilderness in which the blessed John ate locusts and preached repentance to men. Here is the Mount of Olives, whither Christ came and prayed, and taught us to pray. Here is Christ the lover of the wilderness, for He says “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them. Here is the strait and narrow way which leads unto life (Mt 7:14). Here are the teachers and prophets “wandering in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:38). Here are apostles and evangelists and solitaries’ life remote from cities. This I have embraced with all my heart, that I may win what has been promised to Christ’s martyrs and all His other saints, and so I may truly say, Because of the words of your lips I have kept hard ways. I have heard of Abraham, God’s friend, who obeyed the divine voice and went into the wilderness; of Isaac who submitted to authority; of Jacob, the patriarch, who left his home; of Joseph, the chaste, who was sold; of the three children, who learned how to fast, and fought with the fire; of Daniel thrown twice into the lion’s den; of Jeremiah speaking boldly, and thrown into a pit of mud; of Isaiah, who saw unspeakable things, cut asunder with a saw; of Israel led away captive; of John the rebuker of adultery, beheaded; of Christ’s martyrs slain. But why say more? Here our Saviour Himself was crucified for our sakes that by His death He might give us life, and train and attract us all to endurance. To Him I press on, and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost. I strive to be found true, judging myself unworthy of this world’s goods. And yet not I because of the world, but the world because of me. Think of all these things in your heart; follow them with zeal; fight, as you have been commanded, for the truth to the death. For Christ was made obedient even unto death (Phil 2:8). The Apostle says, “Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart…in departing from the living God. But exhort one another…(and edify one another [1 Thess 5:11]) while it is called today” (Heb 3:12-13). Today means the whole time of our life. Thus living, brother, you will save yourself, you will make me glad, and you will glorify God from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.