Monday, October 19, 2015

Two ships

A certain brother coming into Scete asked that he might see the abbot Arsenius. And when the other brethren would have persuaded him to rest a little, he made answer, ‘I shall not eat bread, until I come at a sight of him.’

Then one of the brethren led him to the cell of the abbot Arsenius, and knocking at his door, brought him in. And they were received, and prayer made, and they sat down.

Now since the blessed Arsenius held his peace, he who had brought the brother said, ‘I take my leave.’ But the brother who had come out of a great desire, seeing that the abbot Arsenius had naught to say to him, was sitting silent and confused: and he said, ‘I, too, brother, will take my leave with thee.’ And so they both departed.

Now he had also asked that he might be taken to the abbot Moses, him that had been converted from among thieves. And the abbot Moses received him, and kindly entertained him, and sent him away.

Then the brother who had taken him to both said to him, ‘Behold, thou hast seen both those whom thou didst desire to see: which of the two is more to thy liking?’ And he said, ‘To my mind, he seems to me the better who gave us good welcome and a good meal.’

And one of the Fathers heard what he had said, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Lord, reveal to me this, I pray Thee, how one man for Thy sake withdraws himself from all sight and speech of men, and another for Thy sake is a good fellow with all.’

And behold, in a trance, he was shown two ships upon the river: in one he saw the Holy Ghost sailing together with the abbot Arsenius in silence and peace: and in the other ship he saw the abbot Moses and the angels of God, and they were giving him honey and the honeycomb into his mouth.

The Desert Fathers,
translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell

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