Wisdom from the desert

Daily Reading for June 7

A brother said to a hermit, “How does the fear of God come into the soul?” He said, “If there is humility and poverty, and no judgment of others, the fear of God will be present there.”

Some of the hermits used to say, “Whatever you hate for yourself, do not do it to someone else. If you hate being spoken evil of, do not speak evil of another. If you hate being slandered, do not slander another. If you hate him who tries to make you despised, or wrongs you, or takes away what is yours, or anything like that, do not do such things to others. To keep this is enough for salvation.”

A hermit said, “This is the life of a monk: work, obedience, meditation, not to judge others, not to speak evil, not to murmur. For it is written, ‘You who love God, hate the thing that is evil’ (Ps. 97:10). This is monastic life: not to live with the wicked, not to see evil, not to be inquisitive, not to be curious, not to listen to gossip, not to use the hands for taking but for giving, not to be proud in heart or bad in thought, not to fill the belly, in everything to judge wisely. That is the life of the true monk.”

From “The Monastic Wisdom of the Christian Desert: A Selection of Sayings” by Laurence Freeman, in Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another by Rowan Williams (New Seeds, 2005).

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