Friday, August 04, 2006

Fortitude and Discretion

Ammonas said that for fourteen years in Scetis he had been asking God day and night to give him strength to control his temper.

Poeman said about John the Short that he asked the Lord to take away his passions. So his heart was at reast, and he went to a hermit and said, "I find I am at peace, with no war between flesh and spirit." The hermit said to him, "Go and ask the Lord to stir up a new war in you. Fighting is good for the soul." When the conflict revived in him, he no longer prayed for it to be taken away but said, "Lord, grant me strength to endure this fight."

They told this story of a great hermit. If anyone came to ask advice from him, he used to say with great confidence, "Look, I am acting in the place of God and sitting in his judgment seat; what do you want me to do for you? If you say to me, 'Have mercy upon me,' God says to you, 'If you want me to have mercy on you, you must have mercy on your brothers and then I shall have mercy on you. If you want me to forgive you, you must forgive your neighbour.' Then is God the cause of your guilt? God forbid. It is in our control, whether we do or we do not want to be saved."

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