Sayings & Stories of the Desert Fathers

On Compunction

Syncletica of holy memory said, “Sore is the toil and struggle of the unrighteous when they turn to God, and afterwards is joy ineffable. For even as with those who would kindle a fire, they first are beset with smoke, and from the pain of the smoke they weep, and so they come at what they desired. Even so is it written, ‘Our God is a consuming fire’: and needs must we kindle the divine fire in us with travail and with tears.”

A brother who had been wronged by another brother came to Abba Sisoes the Theban, and said to him, “I have been wronged by a brother, and I want to take vengeance on him too,” but the elder entreated him, saying, “No my son; rather, leave the business of vengeance to God.” He said, “I will not rest until I get my revenge on him.” The elder said, “Let us pray, brother.” He stood up and said, “Oh God, Oh God, we no longer need you to look after us, for we are reaping our own vengeance.” Brother fell at the elder’s feet when he heard that, saying, “I will no longer take issue with my brother. Forgive me!”

An elder said, “If somebody retains the memory of one who afflicted him, dishonored him, grieved him, or injured him, he ought to remember that person as a physician sent by Christ and ought to hold him to be a benefactor. The very fact that you are hurt by such things indicates that your soul is sick, for if you were not sick, you would not suffer. You ought to be happy to have such a brother, for it is through him that you become aware of your own illness. You ought to pray for him and receive that which comes from him as a healing medicine sent by the Lord. If, on the other hand, you resent him, in effect you are saying to Jesus, “I do not wish to receive your cures; I prefer to fester in my wounds.”

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