Sayings & Stories of the Desert Fathers

On Contemplation

A brother went to the cell of the abbot Arsenius in Scete, and looked through the window, and saw the old man, as it were, as one flame: now, the brother was worthy to look upon such things. And after he had knocked, the old man came out, and saw the brother as one amazed, and said to him, “Have you been knocking here for long? Have you seen anything?” And he answered ‘No.” And he talked with him, and sent him away.

At one time Zachary went to his abbot Silvanus and found him in an ecstasy, and his hands were stretched out to heaven. And when he saw him thus, he closed the door and went away: and coming back about the sixth hour, and ninth, he found him even so: but toward the tenth hour, knocked, and coming in found him lying quiet and said “What ailed thee today, Father?” And he said, “I was ill today, my son.” But the young man held his feet saying, “I shall not let thee go, until thou tell me what thou hast seen.” The old man answered him: “I was caught up into heaven, and I saw glory of God. And I stood there until now, and now am I sent away.”

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