Tag Archives: desert fathers

In the presence of holiness.

Abbâ Muthues used to say that there were three brethren who were in the habit of coming to Abbâ Antony, and that two of them used to ask him questions about the thoughts, and about life, and redemption, and the discretion (or intelligence) of the soul, whilst the third one held his peace continually. And after a long time Abbâ Antony said unto him, “Brother, thou comest here each year, and askest nothing!” And he answered and said unto the old man, “It is sufficient for me to see thee.”
The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers (Vol. 2, p. 189)

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A true elder: remembering Abouna Stefanos

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Some old men said, “If you see a young man climbing up to the heavens by his own will, catch him by the foot and throw him down to the earth; it is not good for him.”
– Paradise of the Fathers

This week I was saddened to hear about the passing of a righteous elder, Abouna Stefanos Anba Bishoy. He was a monk of several decades, and the right hand man and steward of the monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi Natrun. While Paradise rejoices at the arrival of a struggling hero, I cannot help but feel sadness at the fleshly separation, at the end of the day, I am still a man. I want to share some meditations about what I observed in him over the last two years.
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The hermit who became a Bishop.

There’s a monastic story that left an impact on me and comes to mind a lot. The story goes like this:

There was a monk who entered anchoritic life – that is, he became a solitary. In this mode of life, he gave himself up to the sweet love of God, and felt many comforts that came from heaven. He felt the active presence of God, he felt joy in his prayers, and the supernatural was ever-present with him. There were physical and spiritual signs of God’s love at all times.
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A monastery, a monk, and a heart: paradigm shift on holiness.

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A youth finds himself in the monastery of the great Saint Antony. It’s not a normal occurrence, as this youth tends to dislike monasteries. It’s not that he has anything against monks or monasteries themselves, but rather that he finds them remarkably boring.
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Walking in the Desert…

It is pitch black. He is unaware that more than fourteen kilometres lay before him, in his mind there are only six. He begins to walk. In the distance he sees a semi-globe of light, and decides that it is the monastery. Since he could not see anything around him, he decides that walking in that direction is the wisest choice. In the darkness, he feels a presence; he is certain that he is not walking alone.

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A night with Anba Serapamon

So, late last night I was exiting my room to go out, and I ran into Anba Serapamon, Bishop and Abbot of St. Pishoy’s monastery in Egypt. He had been sitting on the balcony watching the view of the ocean and city lights, when a wind slammed his door shut, and he was locked out. The saintly man, who has severe arthritis, walked up a humongous hill and up two flights of stairs with the most peaceful demeanor, to come and ask if I could kindly unlock the cell for him.

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