Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

We ought to weep, in order that we may persevere

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DesertFather02_webSome Fathers went to Panephysis to see Abba Joseph and ask him what kind of reception they should give to the brethren to whom they gave lodging, whether they ought to mix with them and speak freely with them. Before they asked him, the old man said to his disciple, 'Consider what I am going to do today, and remain still.' Then the old man put two mats, one on his right and one on his left and said, 'Sit down.' Then he went inside his cell and put on beggar's garments. Then he came out again and walked in between them. After this, he went back to put on his own clothes again; coming out once more, he sat down between them. They were surprised at the things he did. So he said to them: 'Have you considered what I have done?' They replied that they had. 'Was I changed by those contemptible garments?' They said 'No.' Then he said to them: 'I remained the same, then, in both sets of clothes, the former did not change me and the latter have not done me harm. This is how we ought to behave when we receive visiting brethren, according to the holy Gospel which says, "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's." (Matt. 22.21) So when brothers come, let us receive them and speak freely with them. On the other hand, when we are alone we ought to weep, in order that we may persevere.' At these words the visitors were filled with astonishment because he had answered what they had in their hearts even before they had asked him and they gave glory to God.

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