Abba Poemen

   "Do not judge yourself, but live with someone who knows how to live."

Amma Syncletica

<> Amma Syncletica said, "In the beginning there is struggle and a lot of work for those who come near to God. But after that there is indescribable joy. It is just like building a fire: at first it is smoky and your eyes water, but later you get the desired result. Thus we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and effort."

<> She also said, "Those who put out to sea at first sail with a favourable wind; then the sails spread, but later the winds become adverse. Then the ship is tossed by the waves and is no longer controlled by the rudder. But when in a little while there is calm, and the tempest dies down, then the ship sails on again. So it is with us, when we are driven by the spirits who are against us; we hold to the cross as our sail and so we can set a safe course."

<> She also said, "There is an asceticism which is determined by the enemy, and his disciples practise it. So how are we to distinguish between the divine and royal asceticism and the demonic tyranny? Clearly through its quality of balance.

Abba Macarius

A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian and said to him, "Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved." So the old man said, "Go to the cemetery and insult the dead." The brother went there, hurled insults and 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 blessed people. 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 brother said no. the old man said to him, "You know ho 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 others or their praises, and you can be saved."

In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.