The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert

The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert
The Monastery of St. Paul of Thebes, Red Sea Desert, Egypt (1990)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ABBA EVAGRIUS - Remembering the Resurrection

Greetings to all of you on this highest of Orthodox Holy Days, the Glorious and Bright Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Today's message is from the writings of St. Evagrius, born about AD 345-6. He was ordained a reader by St. Basil and deacon by St. Gregory Nazianzen. He moved to Egypt in 383 and lived there as a monk in Nitria for two years. He then spent ten years as a disciple of St. Macarius and was renowned for his learning and ascetic life. St. Evagrius was well-educated and wrote about the spiritual life. He was also the center of a group supporting Origen, but died in 400 before the matter reached the crisis point in Egypt.

Today's thought concerns the Resurrection and how remembrance of that Blessed Event enriches the Christian life.

BEGIN: Abba Evagrius said, "Sit in your cell, collecting your thoughts. Remembering the day of your death. See then what the death of your body will be; let your spirit be heavy, take pains, condemn the vanity of the world, so as to be able to live always in the peace you have in view without weakening. Remember also what happens in hell and think about the state of the souls down there, their painful silence, their most bitter groanings, their fear, their strife, their waiting. Think of their grief without end and the tears their souls shed eternally.

"But keep the day of resurrection and of presentation to God in remembrance also. Imagine the fearful and terrible judgment. Consider the fate kept for sinners, their shame before the face of God and the angels and archangels and all men, that is to say, the punishments, the eternal fire, worms that rest not, the darkness, gnashing of teeth, fear and supplications. Consider also the good things in store for the righteous: confidence in the face of God the Father and His Son, the angels and archangels and all the people of the saints, the kingdom of heaven, and the gifts of that realm, joy and beatitude.

"Keep in mind the remembrance of these two realities. Weep for the judgment of sinners, afflict yourself for fear lest you too feel those pains. But rejoice and be glad at the lot of the righteous. Strive to obtain those joys but be a stranger to those pains. Whether you be inside or outside your cell, be careful that the remembrance of these things never leaves you, so that, thanks to their remembrance, you may at least flee wrong and harmful thoughts." END TEXT.

from "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 63-64