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Author Topic: Humility In The Sayings of The Desert Fathers  (Read 2562 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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that is not the teaching of...


« on: January 10, 2012, 08:13:38 PM »

I was reading back over this thread and I got to thinking that a similar thread on humility might be interesting. However, for this thread, rather than using St. John I used the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (translated by Benedicta Ward)...

Importance of Humility
He also said, 'Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues'
--Abba John the Dwarf 22

He also said, 'The heights of humility are great and so fare the depths of boasting; I advise you to attend to the first and not to fall into the second.'
--Abba Isidore of Pelusia 5

Abba John of the Thebaid said, 'First of all the monk must gain humility; for it is the first commandment of the Lord who said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"' (Matt. 5:3)
--Abba John of the Thebaid 1

He also said, 'As the breath which comes out of his nostrils, so does a man need humility and the fear of God.
--Abba  Poemen 49

She also said that neither asceticism, nor vigils nor any kind of suffering are able to save, only true humility can do that...
-- Amma Theodora 6

She also said, 'Just as one cannot build a ship unless one has some nails, so it is impossible to be saved without humility.'
--Amma Syncletica 26

Attaining Humility
Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care. He went and told an old man this: 'I find myself in peace, without an enemy,' he said. The old man said to him, 'God, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that hte soul makes progress.' So he besought God and when warfare came he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, 'Lord, give me strength for the fight.'
--Abba John the Dwarf 13

Abba Carion said, 'I have  laboured much harder then my son Zacharias and yet I have not attained to his measure in humility and silence.'
--Abba Carion 1

A brother questioned Abba Matoes saying, 'Give me a word.' He said to him, 'God, and pray God to put compunction in your heart, and give you humility; be aware of your faults, do not judge others but put yourself below everyone; do not be friendly with a boy nor with an heretical friend; put freedom of speech far from you; control your tongue and your belly; drink only a small quantity of win, and if someone speaks about some topic, do not argue with him but if he is right say, "Yes"; if he is wrong, say, "You know what you are saying," and do not argue with him about what he has said. That is humility.'
--Abba Matoes 11

A brother questioned Abba Motius, saying, 'If I go to dwell somewhere, how do you want me to live?' The old man said to him, 'If you live somewhere, do not seek to be known for anything special; do not say, for example, I do not go to the synaxis; or perhaps, I do not eat at the agape. For these things make an empty reputation and later you will be troubled because of this. For men rush there where they find these practices.' The brother said to him, 'What shall I do, then?' The old man said, 'Wherever you live, follow the same manner of life as everyone else and if you see devout men, whom you trust doing something, do the same and you will be at peace. For this is humility: to see yourself to be the same as the rest. When men see you do not go beyond the limits, they will consider you to be the same as everyone else and no-one will trouble you.'
--Abba Motius 1

Abba Poemen said 'If a brother comes to visit you and you realise that you have not profited by his visit, search your heart, and discover what you were thinking about before he came, and then you will understand why his visit was useless. If you do this with humility and care, you will be blameless with regard to your neighbour, bearing your own weaknesses. If a man settles womewhere with care, he does not sin for he is in the presence of God.  I see this is how a man acquires the fear of God.'
--Abba Poemen 175

Peter, priest of Dios, when he prayed with others, ought to have stood in front, because he was a priest but beacuse of his humility he stood behind saying, 'This is what is written in the life of Saint Anthony.' He did this without annoying anyone.
--Abba Peter of Dios 1

The same monk used to say that there was a certain old man who had a good disciple. Through narrowmindedness he drove him outside with his sheepskin. The brother remained sitting outside. When the old man opened the door, he found him sitting, and he repented saying, 'O Father, the humility of your patience has overcome my narrowmindedness. Come inside and from now on you are the old man and the father, and I am the younger and the disciple.'
--An Abba of Rome (perhaps Arsenius) 2

A brother said to Abba Sisoes, 'I am aware that the remembrance of God stays with me.' The old man said to him, 'It is no great thing to be with God in your thoughts, but it is a great thing to see yourself as inferior to all creatures. It is this, coupled with hard work, that leads to humility.'
--Abba  Sisoes 13

A brother went to find Abba Serapion. According to his custom, the old man invited him to say a prayer. But the other, calling himself a sinner and unworthy of monastic habit, did not obey. Next Abba Serapion wanted to wash his feet, but using the same words again, the visitor prevented him. Then Abba Serapion made him eat an dhe began to eat with him. Then he admonished him saying, 'My son, if you want to make progress stay in your cell and pay attention to yourself and your manual work; going out is not so profitable for you as remaining at home.' When he heard these words the visitor was offended and his expressions changed so much that the old man could not but notice. So he said to him, 'Up to now you have called yourself a sinner and accused yourself of being unworthy to live, but when I admonished you lovingly, you were extremely put out. If you want to be humble, learn to bear generously what others unfairly inflict upon you and do no habour empty words in your heart. hearing this, the brother asked the old man's forgiveness and went away greatly edified.
--Abba Serapion, 4

A brother asked Abba Tithoes, 'Which way leads to humility?' The old man said, 'The way to humility is this: self-control, prayer, and thinking yourself inferior to all creatures.'
--Abba Tithoes 7
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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2012, 04:50:58 AM »

"I suffer great violence from you, Macarius, because I cannot overcome you. For you see, I do all the things that you do. You fast, and I eat nothing at all. You watch, and I never sleep.

But there is one thing in which you overcome me.'

Abba Macarius said to him: 'What is that?'

'Your humility,' the devil replied, 'for because of it I cannot overcome you."
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 04:51:21 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.
Justin Kissel
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that is not the teaching of...


« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 03:00:17 PM »

"I suffer great violence from you, Macarius, because I cannot overcome you. For you see, I do all the things that you do. You fast, and I eat nothing at all. You watch, and I never sleep.

But there is one thing in which you overcome me.'

Abba Macarius said to him: 'What is that?'

'Your humility,' the devil replied, 'for because of it I cannot overcome you."

Definitely a good one. I had a section for just humility defeating demons/the enemy, but the post was going to be too long and I figured people might not read it, so I took that section out. Some of the passages I had (if anyone wants to look them up) were:

Abba Anthony 7
Abba Daniel 3
Amma Theodora 6
Abba Macarius 11 (this is the one you gave, but it's slightly different in the book version of the Sayings that I have)
Abba Macarius 35
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Justin Kissel
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that is not the teaching of...


« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2012, 09:11:22 PM »

Anyone else? I know there are other Sayings... books out there besides the one I currently own. Can anyone contribute some more quotes?
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 12:16:54 PM »

wow, thanks so much for compiling this list.
i love these quotes.
i will see if i can find any more.
 Smiley
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Opus118
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 09:45:23 PM »

I do not know if this is off topic, but I think it is also worthwhile to include desert Mothers.

Amma Syncletica (from Benedicta Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers):

(1) "Just as a treasure that is exposed loses its value, so a virtue which is known vanishes; just as wax melts when it is near fire, so the soul is destroyed by praise and loses all the results of its labour."

(2) "Just as it is impossible to be at the same moment both a plant and a seed, so it is impossible for us to be surrounded by worldly honour and at the same time to bear heavenly fruit."

(3) "Just as one cannot build a ship unless one has some nails, so it is impossible to be saved without humility."

I am really into humility, but it is number (1) above that I find difficult to fight against and just posting on this thread is a defeat.
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 09:46:49 AM »

Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Humility.'"
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 04:03:12 PM »

Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Humility.'"

EXCELLENT.  This speaks volumes to me on so many levels.  Snares..... so many. Needed that today.  Thanks.
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