Letters, Volume 1 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 113)

Letters, Volume 1 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 113)

Translated by JOHN CHRYSSAVGIS
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b1pz
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  • Book Info
    Letters, Volume 1 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 113)
    Book Description:

    No description available

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1586-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-18)

    The desert of Gaza proved a remarkable place of continuity and creativity for Christian monasticism toward the end of the fourth century. Its accessibility by sea and road, its proximity to Egypt and Syria as well as the Holy Land, but also its prominence in Hellenistic and Roman times, rendered it a singularly significant haven for monastic life from the fourth to the sixth centuries. Travelers journeyed from Palestine to Egypt to visit the elders of the Egyptian desert,¹ and as early as the mid-fourth century, some of the better known pilgrims to this region included Jerome, Rufinus, Palladius, Evagrius,...

  7. LETTERS, VOLUME 1
    • PROLOGUE
      (pp. 21-22)

      Letters and responses of two spiritual elders, named Barsanuphius and John, who lived in stillness near a monastic community called that of Abba Seridos in the region of Gaza;¹ these letters were conveyed through that abbot, namely, the same Abba Seridos who also ministered to them.

      Edifying teachings of the holy Barsanuphius and of John, his disciple and fellow-ascetic, which they conveyed through letters to brethren inquiring by way of Abba Seridos, who ministered to them and was himself the abbot of the monastic community in the region of Gaza, where these holy elders lived in stillness.

      We entreat those...

    • LETTERS TO JOHN OF BEERSHEBA (1–54)
      (pp. 23-67)

      Response from the Great Old Man to Abba John of Beersheba, who asked to come and live with them in the monastic community [namely, of Seridos].

      It is written in the Apostle: “The one who began a good work among you will also bring it to completion by the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”¹ And again our Master said to the one who approached him: “None can become my disciple if he does not give up all his possessions,” and his family, “and hate his own life, too.”² It is possible for God to inform us about the verse:...

    • LETTERS TO AN EGYPTIAN MONK AND TO PAUL THE HERMIT (55–58)
      (pp. 68-73)

      A certain elderly Egyptian man came to live in the monastery where the fathers were, and addressed a letter written in Egyptian to the Great Old Man (for he, too, was Egyptian) requesting prayer and counsel for the benefit of his soul, and asking whether it would be possible to be allowed to meet him. He wrote back his response in Greek, as follows.

      Since I have promised myself not to write to anyone personally, but only to respond through the abbot, this is why I have not written to you in Egyptian as you wrote to me, but was...

    • LETTERS TO ABBA EUTHYMIUS (59–71)
      (pp. 74-96)

      An old man, called Abba Euthymius, who lived in stillness, asked the same Great Old Man in the form of a prayer, saying the following: “Giver of light, the way of those in darkness, illumine us also who are in the fog. For you, Holy One, have said yourself: ‘Ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened for you.’¹ And since you also desire to open for us a door of salvation, make haste; for you have made a beginning. If you had not desired to save us, you would not have declared to us that the...

    • LETTERS TO AN ELDERLY MONK NAMED ANDREW (72–123)
      (pp. 97-141)

      An old man who was ill, named Andrew, who was living in stillness in the monastic community, declared some of his secret faults to the same Great Old Man, while at the same time giving thanks for the fact that he had been counted worthy to dwell near such a person; and about his bodily illness. Response by Barsanuphius.

      If you truly believe that it is actually God who has brought you to this place, then entrust him with all your cares¹ and cast on him all your concerns; and he will dispose your affairs as he wills. If, however,...

    • LETTERS TO THE MONK THEODORE (124–131)
      (pp. 142-153)

      Question from a monk named Theodore to the Great Old Man: “How can I know which thoughts are from God, which are natural, and which are from the demons?” Response by Barsanuphius.

      My child, theodore, when you ask a question, you should understand what you are asking and prepare yourself for work. For it is written: “Do not be haughty, but give yourselves to humble tasks.”¹ Your questions, brother, belong to someone with high measures. Therefore, unless the inner eye is purified by means of much sweat, you cannot be detached from thorns and prickles in order to seize the...

    • LETTERS TO A MONK WHO USED RIDDLES (132–137B)
      (pp. 154-161)

      A brother, who had three thoughts, wanted to ask the Great Old Man about these. He did not, however, pose his question clearly; instead, he used riddles so that the abbot would not understand. Therefore, he wrote down certain letters of the alphabet, and each time he thought of something he wanted to ask, he would engrave the letters that he thought of at the beginning of each section. These letters were as follows: First, the iota (the Greek letter ι),¹ each time that he thought of formulating a question about rigorous stillness and complete silence without meeting anyone at...

    • LETTERS TO VARIOUS HERMITS (138–210)
      (pp. 162-218)

      Response by the same Great Old Man to some solitary, who asked about his attendant, as well as about accepting thoughts and about his relatives according to the flesh.

      Brother, I am speaking to you as if to my own soul. It is written: “Take care that your knowledge does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak brothers.”¹ The brother who attends to you is naïve; do not try to teach him prudence; otherwise, you shall rouse him to anger. Instead, be satisfied when he does whatever you need. Do not offer him some thought, especially in regard...

    • LETTERS TO A MONK, WHO WAS A PRIEST (211–213)
      (pp. 219-221)

      Once, one of the fathers, a priest, who had toiled a great deal in the desert and now sought to live in stillness in the monastery, asked the Other Old Man how he should begin to live in stillness. Response by John.

      John the baptist said to our Master Christ, God: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?”¹ Your love, however, has done the right thing and given us a lesson in humility, in order that we may in this way be ashamed and speak of our passions. “For it is beyond all dispute...

    • LETTERS TO MONKS ABOUT ILLNESS AND DEATH (214–223)
      (pp. 222-226)

      A brother who lived in the monastery, serving an elderly monk who was ill, asked the Great Old Man about his own thoughts. Response by Barsanuphius.

      You are silly, and this is why your thoughts rule over you, especially the pretense to rights. The Lord wants you to consider every person as being superior to you, and your hardheartedness does not allow you at this time to see even the elderly monk, who is advanced in age, as being superior to you. Therefore, show obedience to him in all things and do whatever he tells you, submitting yourself to him,...

    • LETTERS TO VARIOUS MONKS (224–251)
      (pp. 227-255)

      Someone asked Abba John about a certain matter. And after receiving a response, he addressed a question about the same matter to Abba Barsanuphius, without telling him that he had already asked the Other Old Man about this matter.

      The Old Man responded in this way: “Do as you were told by brother John.”

      And again, sometime afterwards, it happened that the same brother asked Abba John about something and, having heard the response, conveyed the same question to Abba Barsanuphius. The Old Man, however, stated the following to him: “From now on, one response is enough for you. For...

    • LETTERS TO DOROTHEUS OF GAZA (252–338)
      (pp. 256-309)

      Question from another brother¹ to the Other Old Man: “Since I have money and wish to give some of it to the monastic community while distributing some to the poor, tell me, father, whether I should do this through the abbot.” Response by John.

      Brother, I addressed my first responses to a person who still appeared to require milk.² But now that you are talking about complete renunciation, listen to what has been written: “Open your mouth wide, and I shall fill it.”³ Brother, you do not need to learn from me, the least, what you must do; instead, listen...

    • LETTERS TO VARIOUS MONKS (339–347B)
      (pp. 310-319)

      Another brother asked the same Old Man: “It is a commandment of the Lord that we love our neighbor as ourselves¹ and that we be joyful and sorrowful with him as if he were one of our own members.² Therefore, to regard our neighbor being in poverty and yet ignore him is a transgression of love, even if we only have what we need and are unable to cover his needs. Tell me, then, father, how love is manifested in this case.” Response by John.

      Love toward one’s neighbor is manifested in many ways and not only by means of...

    • LETTER TO THE BROTHER OF BARSANUPHIUS (348)
      (pp. 320-320)

      A secular man, in fact the [biological] brother of the same Great Old Man, who was also advanced in age, sent a letter to him, asking to meet with him. The Old Man announced the following to him: “My brother is Jesus. If you despise the world and become a monk, then you will be my brother.” Having heard this, he departed, weeping greatly. After a while, however, he returned there in order to become a monk; but he fell ill physically, swollen with dropsy. So he sent a letter asking the Old Man about this suffering. The latter responded...

  8. INDICES