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VIGNETTES ON SAINTS




 

 

PACHOMIUS AND THE FIG TREE

One day, Pachomius came to the monastery of Thmousons which, like all monasteries, accepted children.  Now there in the center of the monastery was a fig tree which one of the boys was in the habit of climbing without permission; he plucked the figs and gave it to the other boys to eat.  

When Pachomius  came near the fig tree, he saw an evil spirit sitting in it; his name was devil of gluttony.  And Pachomius knew it was he who tempted the boys.  So the Holy Man called the gardener and told him: "Cut down the fig tree because it has become a source of evil for the children."  

When the gardener heard of this, he was greatly grieved because he planted all the trees in the monastery and this fig tree had given the monastery much fruits.  But Pachomius insisted: "Must the needs of the body be of more importance than the needs of the soul?  What benefit is it to the community to be fed with figs while we lose the souls of our children?"  

Seeing how much it would grieve the gardener to cut down the fig tree, Pachomius did not force him.  Next day, however, the healthy fig tree became completely withered; not one leaf or fruit was found upon it.  

Koinonia II

 

* * *

 

ST. PACHOMIUS, THE DEMON AND THE MONKS

It happened once that St. Pachomius and Theodore, his beloved disciple, were walking in the monastery one night.  Suddenly, they saw from afar an apparition full of great deceit.  They saw the form of a woman of great beauty.  Theodore was perturbed.  But Pachomius, noticing this, said: "Have courage in the Lord, Theodore, and do not be worried."  

Even as Pachomius prayed to drive away the apparition, she (the apparition) shamelessly came closer to them with a throng of demons running before her.  

She said:       Pachomius, you labor in vain.  God has given me power to tempt those whom I want.

Pachomius:  And you, where are you from and who are you and whom have you come to tempt?

Woman:        I am the devil's daughter.  It was I who brought down the most brilliant theologians of the church.  It was I who snatched Judas from the Apostolic company.  Now, Pachomius, I shall make war with you because, in your monastery, young men and adults alike have trampled upon me.  You have filled them with the fear of God as a most unbreakable wall that our cohorts cannot approach them.  

Pachomius:  Have you come to tempt only me or others as well?

Woman:        Both you and all those like you.  

Pachomius:  Theodore as well?  

Woman:        Yes, both you and Theodore, but I cannot even approach the two of you.  

Pahcomius:   Why?  

Woman:        You turn every harm I send you into profit for your soul because you have been made worthy to see the glory of God.  But you cannot protect the other monks forever.  In the future, because they will not have the fear of God, I will dance among them.  

Pachomius:  How do you know the future?  The monks in the future might be more fervent than we.  

Woman:        I do not know the future the way God knows the future.  I know the future by conjecture.  

Pachomius:  How is this?  

Woman:        From what has happened in the past, I conjecture what will happen in the future.  I know that every act comes from an earnest desire for things that are sought after with zeal, like the desire to be saved.  This desire is confirmed by God with wonders and signs and gives security to those who pursue it.  But when the desire becomes older and weaker and stops growing, it slowly withers.  Then I come in and destroy it.  

Pachomius:  Why do you tempt only the great monks and not necessarily all the monks.  

Woman:        I only wage war against those who seek perfection.  God does not allow me to tempt all; otherwise, many would indeed be led astray. 

Pachomius:  How do you destroy souls?  

Woman:        We propose evil in the soul of the person who struggles;  if he accepts it, we invade the soul;  then we inflame him with fierce pleasure.  But if, by his faith in God, he refuses to receive our evil, we dissipate like smoke before him.  

After this, he commanded her to go away and bade her never again to approach his monastery.  He then warned all the brothers and the other monasteries to have the fear of God that they may not fall into temptation.  

St. Pachomius, Koinonia II

 

* * *

 

ST. PACHOMIUS AND THE HERETIC

Some heretical monks came to visit St. Pachomius's monastery and announced to the doorkeeper: "Tell Pachomius, if he is truly a man of God and is confident that God listens to him, let us both cross the river together walking on our feet on top of the water.  Let us see who has more confidence before God."  

When the doorkeeper announced this challenge to Pachomius, Pachomius scolded him:  "Why do you listen to such talks and challenges.  Such talks are alien to God and our way of life.  There is nothing more wretched than such foolishness that I should neglect mourning for my sins and thinking how to avoid eternal punishment and waste time walking on water."  

The doorkeeper asked:  "Then how can he who is alien to God walk on water?"  Pachomius answered:  "With God's permission and the devil working with him, he is allowed to fool those the devil has deceived."  

"Go and tell those heretics that Pachomius puts all his strivings and zeal not in walking on water but in trying to save his soul."  Then Pachomius exhorted his monks not to show off or to desire to see apparitions and demons or to tempt God.  "You shall not put your God to the test."  

Koinonia II

 

 

 

 

 

 

(10-29-04)

 

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                                                                                        - Teresa of Avila

 


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