This week's selection is from Arsenius, born in Rome around 360. He left Rome for Egypt at the age of 34 where he settled in Scetis under the guidance of St. John the Dwarf. After living for many years in the desert in solitude, silence, and deep asceticism, St. Arsenius returned to his Lord in 449:
BEGIN: Abba David said, "Abba Arsenius told us the following, as though it referred to someone else, but in fact it referred to himself. An old man was sitting in his cell and a voice came to him which said, 'Come, and I will show you the works of men.' He got up and followed. The voice led him to a certain place and showed him an Ethiopian cutting wood and making a great pile. He struggled to carry it but in vain. Instead of taking some off, he cut more wood which he added to the pile. He did this for a long time.
Going on a little further, the old man was shown a man standing on the shore of a lake drawing up water and pouring it into a broken receptacle, so that the water ran back into the lake. The voice said to the old man, 'Come and I will show you something else.' He saw a temple and two men on horseback, opposite one another, carrying a piece of wood crosswise. They wanted to go in through the door but could not because they held their piece of wood crosswise. Neither of them would draw back before the other, so as to carry the wood straight; so they remained outside the door. The voice said to the old man, 'These men carry the yoke of righteousness with pride, and do not humble themselves so as to correct themselves and walk in the humble way of Christ. So they remain outside the Kingdom of God. The man cutting the wood is he who lives in many sins and instead of repenting he adds more faults to his sins. He who draws the water is he who does good deeds, but mixing bad ones with them, he spoils even his good works. So, everyone must be watchful of his actions, lest he labor in vain." END
from "The Desert Christian," by Benedicta Ward, (New York; Macmillan, 1975), p. 15-16