Writings from the Desert Holy Fathers

Righteous Joseph the Patriarch

Righteous Joseph the Patriarch

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


"A brother came to see Abba (Father) Macarius the Egyptian and said to him, 'Abba (Father), give me a word, that I may be saved. 'So the old man (geronda) said, 'Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.' The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, "Didn't they say anything to you?' He replied, 'No.' The old man said, 'Go back tomorrow and praise them.' So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, 'Apostles, Saints, and righteous men.' He returned to the old man and said to him, 'I have complimented them.' And the old man said to him, 'Did they not answer you?' The brothers said no. The old man said to him, 'You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.'"


(Moses, called the Robber or the Negro, was a released slave who lived as a robber in Nitria; late in life he became a monk and was trained by Isidore the Priest. He was ordained Priest and became one of the great fathers Scetis. On the advice of Macarius he retired to Petra; he was martyred with seven others by barbarian invaders.)

"It happened that Abba (Father) Moses was struggling with the temptation of fornication. Unable to stay any longer in the cell, he went and told Abba Isidore. The old man exhorted him to return to his cell. But he refused, saying, 'Abba (Father), I cannot.' Then Abba Isidore took Moses out onto the terrace and said to him, 'Look towards the west.' He looked and saw hordes of demons flying about and making a noise before launching an attack. The Abba Isidore said to him, 'Look towards the east.' He turned and saw innumerable multitude of holy Angels shining with glory. Abba (Father) Isidore said, 'See, these are sent by the Lord to the saints (Christian believers) to bring them help, while those in the west fight against them. Those who are with us are more in number than they are.' The Abba (Father Moses), gave thanks to God, plucked up courage and returned to his cell."

POEMEN (called the Shepherd)

"A secular man of devout life came to see Abba (Father) Poemen. Now it happened that there were other brethren with the old man, asking to hear a word from him. The old man said to the faithful secular, 'Say a word to the brothers.' When he insisted, the secular said, 'Please excuse me, Abba; I myself have come to learn.' But he urged on by the old man and so he said, 'I am secular, I sell vegetables and do business; I take bundles to pieces, and make smaller ones; I buy cheap and sell dear. What is more I do not know how to speak of the Scripture; so I will tell you a parable. A man said to his friends, 'I want to go to see the emperor; come with me.' One friend said to him, 'I will go with you half the way.' Then he said to another friend, 'Come and go with me to the emperor,' and he said to him, 'I will take you as far as the emperor's palace.' He said to a third friend, 'Come with me to the emperor,' He said, I will come and take you to the palace and I will stay and speak and help you to have access to the emperor.' They asked what was the point of the parable. He answered them, 'The first friend is ascceticism, which leads the way, the second friend, is chastity which takes us to heaven; and the third is almsgiving which with confidence presents us to God our King.' The brethren withdrew edified."



(Silvanus, a Palestinian by birth, was the head of a community of twelve disciples in Scetis, among whom was Mark the Calligrapher. The group moved to Sinai in 380 A.D., and later went to Syria.)

"A brother went to see Abba (Father) Silvanus on the mountain of Sinai. When he saw the brothers working hard said to the old man, 'Do not labor for the food which perishes (St. John 6:27). Mary has chosen the good portion' (St. Luke 10:42). The old man said to his disciple, Zacharias, give the brother a book and put him in a cell without anything else.' So when the ninth hour came the visitor watched the door expecting someone would be sent to call him to the meal. When no-one called him he got up, went to find the old man and said to him, 'Have the brothers not eaten today?' The old man replied that they had. Then he said, 'Why did you not call me?' The old man said to him, 'Because you are a spiritual man and do not need that kind of food. We, being carnal, want to eat, and that is why we work. But you have chosen the good portion and read the whole day long and you do not want to eat carnal food.' When he heard these words the brother made a prostration saying, 'Forgive me, Abba (Father). The old man said to him, 'Mary needs Martha. It is really thanks to Martha that Mary is praised.'"

"One day someone asked Abba Silvanus, 'How have you lived, father, in order to become so wise?' He replied, 'I have never let a thought that would bring the anger of God upon me enter my heart.'"


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George