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, September 12, 2012


Today's thought is from an unknown holy father of the Egyptian Desert who was asked by a disciple what it meant to be a monk. The holy father's answer sums up the monastic ideal:

BEGIN: And the old man also said, "God saith unto thee thus -- if thou lovest Me, O monk, do that which I ask, and do not that which I do not desire. For monks should lead lives wherein they act not in iniquity, and a man should not look upon evil things with his eyes, no hear with his ears things which are alien to the fear of God, nor utter calumnies with his mouth, nor plunder with his hands; but he should give especially to the poor, and he should not be unduly exalted in his mind, and he should not think evil thoughts, neither should he fill his belly. Let him do then all these things with discretion, for by them is a monk known."

The old man also said, "These things form the life of a monk: good works, and obedience, and training. A man should not lay blame on his neighbor, and he should not utter calumnies, and he should not complain, for it is written, 'The lovers of the Lord hate wickedness.'" END

from E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle: St. Nectarios Press), 1984, p. 135