DESERT FATHERS AND MOTHERS
(3rd and 4th centuries)
Abba Joseph of Panephysis: If you want to find rest here below, and hereafter, in all
circumstances say ‘Who am I?’ and do not judge anyone. This is what it means not to judge. Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbour.
A brother at Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses
was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to say to him, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you.’ So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, ‘What is this, Father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him.
Dorotheos of Gaza said: ‘It is no great thing not to judge, and to be sympathetic to
someone who is in trouble and falls down before you; but it is a great thing not to judge or to strike back when someone, on account of his own passions, speaks against you. Likewise, it is a great thing not to disagree when someone else is honoured more than you are.’
Amma Syncletica said: “Imitate the tax collector in the Temple and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart, which is a rock, changed into a spring of water.”
Abba Xanthias said, ‘A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not
Matoes said, ‘The nearer you draw to God, the more you see yourself a sinner. It
was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself “a man of unclean lips”’ (Is. 6.5).
A brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest. Abba Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, “I, too, am a sinner.”