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Author Topic: A confusing account from the Desert Fathers  (Read 972 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: August 13, 2011, 01:26:09 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2011, 01:49:35 PM »


Perhaps he "knew" that she would soon change her ways.

He does say "She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution..."

So, perhaps he knew that she had a kind heart and would eventually mend her ways.

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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2011, 01:50:14 PM »

I can't think of what story it'd be (and I couldn't find anything with a quick search on Google), so I don't know about the context. At first I thought it was one of the "judge no one" or "think everyone is better than you" stories, but that doesn't seem to fit. I guess the obvious thing to do would be to ask augustin if he remembers the source/address... Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2011, 02:01:44 PM »

I'm not sure what "she doesn't remain in debauchery" mean, because although it sounds like she is no longer a prostitute, the phrasing is a bit strange and unclear.  Nevertheless, to entertain the thought, certainly, the story doesn't even make it clear she's giving to the church but it could be she is directly committing herself to helping the poor.  Also, it's a lesson of humility.  Certainly there are probably many desert monk stories that are alarming and make absolutely no sense.  But within these these imperfect stories, there's a perfect lesson to be learned.  The idea is that you shouldn't take these stories literally, because this isn't an endorsement of accepting blood or sin money.  Most of these stories probably never even happened, but the provocative nature of the story is teaching quite strongly how these monks are judging her sins and not her good deeds that they are lacking.  Also these monks are butting into affairs that only the one left responsible should be worried about.  And that these monks are probably not even confessing their sins anyway.  And so rightfully, the story includes the example of a prostitute to forcefully remind ourselves to ask this question first:  "is it really of my concern that something like this happens."  And more importantly, "am I any better than she is?"
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2011, 02:16:44 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

I find it helpful to know what I am talking about before posting speculations. Allow me to assist those trying to parse this saying attributed to "Abba Timothy"

Quote
Abba Timothy the Presbyter questioned Abba Poemen, saying: “There is a prostitute who lives in Egypt and who does almsgiving by giving of the money that she makes by sin.” Abba Poemen responded: “It seems that this woman has within her a spark of faith. Be assured that she will not remain a prostitute.”
One day Abba Timothy’s mother visited him. “Mother,” Abba Timothy asked her, “does that woman still persist in living the life of a prostitute?” “Yes,” she replied, “and her lovers multiply; on the other hand, however” -she continued- , “she multiplies her charitable works.”
This new Abba Timothy conveyed to Abba Poemen. And again Abba Poemen repeated: “This woman will not remain for long in the sin of prostitution.”

After a few years, Abba Timothy, was once again visited by his mother. Among other things, she said the following: “You know, that prostitute asked to come with me, so that you could pray for her soul.” This information Abba Timothy again conveyed to Abba Poemen. “Go”-Abba Poemen thus said- “and meet with her.”

Indeed Abba Timothy departed and met with the sinful woman. Upon hearing the word of God from the mouth of the Ascetic, she was moved, wept, and proclaimed her contrition before Abba Timothy: “From this day forth, I repent and will cease being a prostitute, dedicating myself to God.” Immediately fulfilling her words with deeds, she departed for a convent and pleased God with her repentance.


http://theburningbush.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/the-charitable-prostitute/

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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2011, 02:20:03 PM »

The idea is that you shouldn't take these stories literally,

Well put.

The way nearly every Christian reads what they do not care for.

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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2011, 02:52:36 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

I find it helpful to know what I am talking about before posting speculations. Allow me to assist those trying to parse this saying attributed to "Abba Timothy"

Quote
Abba Timothy the Presbyter questioned Abba Poemen, saying: “There is a prostitute who lives in Egypt and who does almsgiving by giving of the money that she makes by sin.” Abba Poemen responded: “It seems that this woman has within her a spark of faith. Be assured that she will not remain a prostitute.”
One day Abba Timothy’s mother visited him. “Mother,” Abba Timothy asked her, “does that woman still persist in living the life of a prostitute?” “Yes,” she replied, “and her lovers multiply; on the other hand, however” -she continued- , “she multiplies her charitable works.”
This new Abba Timothy conveyed to Abba Poemen. And again Abba Poemen repeated: “This woman will not remain for long in the sin of prostitution.”

After a few years, Abba Timothy, was once again visited by his mother. Among other things, she said the following: “You know, that prostitute asked to come with me, so that you could pray for her soul.” This information Abba Timothy again conveyed to Abba Poemen. “Go”-Abba Poemen thus said- “and meet with her.”

Indeed Abba Timothy departed and met with the sinful woman. Upon hearing the word of God from the mouth of the Ascetic, she was moved, wept, and proclaimed her contrition before Abba Timothy: “From this day forth, I repent and will cease being a prostitute, dedicating myself to God.” Immediately fulfilling her words with deeds, she departed for a convent and pleased God with her repentance.


http://theburningbush.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/the-charitable-prostitute/


Thanks.

I now feel silly for not trying to find this on my own.  laugh
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2011, 04:36:13 PM »

Yes, I speculated, hence the "entertain the thought"...

just so that I'm not crazy, there are other stories that I used to go like, "really, that's it?" until I grew up and then realized that I'm just making excuses for my sins.  I heard this parable many times from Coptic bishops and priests, and I tracked this down and found it here:

Quote
There was a monk in some monastery. The tempter had conquered him in negligence. He didn’t do his canon, he didn’t got to church, he didn’t do his rule of prayer, and thus the fathers didn’t know him and regarded him as negligent. The hour of death came and the fathers drew near him to see something, which perhaps God would show, in order that they may be benefited. Drawing near to the dying negligent monk, the fathers saw that he was very joyful. They were perplexed and they said in their thoughts: “Look, why is he peaceful? The negligence which he had in his life doesn’t worry him? What happened to the debts which have been gathered because of sloth? His conscience doesn’t rebel? It doesn’t make him worry? He doesn’t despair?” He continued to be joyful. They compelled him to answer their question:

“Forgive us, brother, we see you doing so-so. We know and you know that you lived in negligence and sloth in monastic duties. Now you are heading to the judgment of Christ, and you should be somewhat sorry, worried, etc. But we see you otherwise, joyful, peaceful, with hope and we question; what supports this condition of yours?”

He answered them and said:

“You are right, my fathers, that’s how it is. I was negligent and didn’t do what you did, but one thing I guarded in my life: not to judge my brother. I read in the Holy Gospel, where the Lord says that the one who does not judge, will not be judged. Thus I tried, at least, not to judge. And I hope in the mercy of God that I will not be judged. For this reason I am departing with faith that God will apply his word.”

The fathers looked into it among themselves and said that in fact the brother was very clever and masterfully gained his salvation.

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/elderephraimhomily1.aspx

This is the point I was trying to make.  Does that mean I'm allowed to sin so long as I'm not judging others?  If that's honestly what I'm getting from the story when I read it, then I am horribly immature in my thinking and my faith.  Search for the lesson, not for every word of the story to be my whole life.
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2011, 04:59:48 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

'The thiefs and prostitues go ahead of you in the Kingdom' even Christ said...
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2011, 05:04:13 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

'The thiefs and prostitues go ahead of you in the Kingdom' even Christ said...

Do you know what that means?  Or are you ridiculing?
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2011, 05:21:24 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

'The thiefs and prostitues go ahead of you in the Kingdom' even Christ said...

Do you know what that means?  Or are you ridiculing?

I`m not rediculling... There can be passionable people who are good... the heaven-metter is goodness... this is what i think... there can be religious people who are worst than prostitutes , or worst than drunkers , or worst than druggies... after all if their essence is good and their heart charitable, their only fault is their passion... and after all if that passion does not harm people as much as their kindness benefits them there is hope that they might find redemption... but for spiritually blind religious people who call light darkness there is less hope...

 
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2011, 05:23:46 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

'The thiefs and prostitues go ahead of you in the Kingdom' even Christ said...

Do you know what that means?  Or are you ridiculing?

I`m not rediculling... There can be passionable people who are good... the heaven-metter is goodness... this is what i think... there can be religious people who are worst than prostitutes , or worst than drunkers , or worst than druggies... after all if their essence is good and their heart charitable, their only fault is their passion... and after all if that passion does not harm people as much as their kindness benefits them there is hope that they might find redemption... but for spiritually blind religious people who call light darkness there is less hope...

 

I apologize.  I misunderstood your intentions?
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2011, 06:07:04 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

There is a story in Benedicta Ward's book "harlots of the desert" about St. Thalis and St. Paphnutius. I've seen it in another version about St. Paisea and St. John the Short (I think, if I remember right). I'm not sure who the original figures are or where the mix up is, but the story sounds so familiar that I wonder if it is the source of what you are mentioning, but a little bit confused or rearranged. I'll put a brief summary from memory as a possible context, though I'm sure someone more knowledgable will tell me I'm confused.

A woman was a wealthy widow with much property. She give liberally to the poor, holding dinners for them and giving alms, until she was financially ruined. In desperation, she eventually either turned her home into a house of prostitution, or herself became a prostitute, possibly to feed herself and her household, and possibly out of a misguided desire to continue to supply the needs of the poor. News of this came to a near-by monastery, one where many of the fathers had received hospitality from her before her ruin. One of the fathers (possibly her uncle) was told the news. He went to her at her home, and rebuked her. She was filled with shame and asked how she might be saved. He told her to go with him to a convent and spend the rest of her life in tears that she might be saved. Immediately she want with him into the desert. The pushed on hard, until she was exhausted late in the night. He went off a ways apart, and they slept. In the morning he found her dead, and wept bitterly that she had perished so close to a life of repentance. It was revealed to him by God that her repentance had been accepted, and he gave thanks. As such this woman is considered a saint.

Don't know if this is a related story or just a similar one, and I can't remember which account exactly of the ones I've seen was the right one... but in any case, a story like this is a much more likely explanation for how a wealthy prostitute could be considered a saint than just giving money to the church.

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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2011, 06:16:58 PM »

^ That's the story of the so-called "Mary, Abraham's niece" IIRC. Has been a long time since I read the Paterikon, Limonarion etc.
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2011, 06:22:17 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

I find it helpful to know what I am talking about before posting speculations. Allow me to assist those trying to parse this saying attributed to "Abba Timothy"

Quote
Abba Timothy the Presbyter questioned Abba Poemen, saying: “There is a prostitute who lives in Egypt and who does almsgiving by giving of the money that she makes by sin.” Abba Poemen responded: “It seems that this woman has within her a spark of faith. Be assured that she will not remain a prostitute.”
One day Abba Timothy’s mother visited him. “Mother,” Abba Timothy asked her, “does that woman still persist in living the life of a prostitute?” “Yes,” she replied, “and her lovers multiply; on the other hand, however” -she continued- , “she multiplies her charitable works.”
This new Abba Timothy conveyed to Abba Poemen. And again Abba Poemen repeated: “This woman will not remain for long in the sin of prostitution.”

After a few years, Abba Timothy, was once again visited by his mother. Among other things, she said the following: “You know, that prostitute asked to come with me, so that you could pray for her soul.” This information Abba Timothy again conveyed to Abba Poemen. “Go”-Abba Poemen thus said- “and meet with her.”

Indeed Abba Timothy departed and met with the sinful woman. Upon hearing the word of God from the mouth of the Ascetic, she was moved, wept, and proclaimed her contrition before Abba Timothy: “From this day forth, I repent and will cease being a prostitute, dedicating myself to God.” Immediately fulfilling her words with deeds, she departed for a convent and pleased God with her repentance.


http://theburningbush.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/the-charitable-prostitute/


The Romanian version of the Egyptian Paterikon  ("Patericul eghiptenesc" translated at the beginning of the 19th century) is somehow different than this one, but that's the story. I remember it as being shorter though, ending basically with the pithy saying I semi-quoted.
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2011, 07:07:14 PM »

And there is another story in the Paterikon about a prostitute in Alexandria giving much of her income to the poor. When som over curious and zealous monks asked Avva Pimen (IIRC) what to make of that (quoting the OT where it was forbidden to receive a whore's gift/money), Pimen answered along these lines: She doesn't remain in debauchery/prostitution, for the fruits of righteousness are seen in her."

Is this the whole context of the episode? I'm confused as to how a practicing prostitute can be called "righteous" just because she gives to the Church (I'm reminded of mobsters in the US who give a lot to the RCC). I know one can point to the example of Rehab, but do we have any indication she kept being a prostitute after she went with the Israelites? I don't think so. To be perfectly honest, my "earning salvation" alarms are going off  laugh Undecided.

I'm aware that in ancient times, women's options were very limited, so perhaps the woman in this example was constrained into prostitution by economic necessity?

'The thiefs and prostitues go ahead of you in the Kingdom' even Christ said...
Not if they aren't repenting, they don't. Same goes for religious hypocrites.
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