Sayings & Stories of the Desert Fathers

On Patience

There once came thieves into an old man’s cell, and said to him, “Whatever you have in your cell, we have come to take a way.” And he said, “Take whatever you see, my sons.” So they took whatever they could find in the cell, and went away. But they forgot a little bag that was hidden in the cell. So the old man, picking it up, followed after them, shouting and saying “My sons, you forgot this: take it.” But they, marveling at the patience of the old man, brought everything back into his cell, and they all did penance, saying one to another, “Truly, this is a man of God.”

Abba Poemen said, “The mark of the monk becomes apparent in temptations.”

An elder said, “Do not be discouraged if physical sickness comes upon you. Who are you to take offense if your Lord-and-master wishes you to be afflicted in body? Does he not care for you in every way? Could you live without him? Resign yourself and beseech God to grant you what is appropriate, that is, according to his Will; remain patiently in your cell, eating charity.”

One of the elders used to say of Lazarus the pauper [see Luke 16:19, 31], “He is not found to have practiced a single virtue. The only thing we find in him is that he never complained against the Lord for showing him no mercy but bore his affliction graciously. That is why God accepted him.”

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