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Benedicta Ward - The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Benedicta Ward - The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

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Published by Laimis Motuza

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Published by: Laimis Motuza on May 22, 2012
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10/16/2013

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Canon was a married man, an Egyptian, with a wife and two children.
He left his family in order to become a monk in Scetis. During a famine,

Carton

[117

his wife sent the boy, Zacharias, to his father and he was brought up in
the desert. The presence of the boy caused some comment but he proved to
be a monk of zeal and discernment and even of greater spiritual under-
standing than his father.

1. Abba Carion said, 'I have laboured much harder than my son
Zacharias and yet I have not attained to his measure in humility and
silence.'

2. There was a monk in Scetis called Abba Carion. He had two
children which he left with his wife when he withdrew from the
world. Later, there was a famine in Egypt, and his wife came to
Scetis, destitute of everything, bringing the two little children (one
was a boy, called Zacharias, the other was a girl). She waited in the
marsh land, at a distance from the old man. (For there was a marsh
beside Scetis, and they had built churches and wells there.) Now it
was the custom in Scetis, that when a woman came to talk with a
brother or with someone else whom she had to see, that they should
sit far away from one another while they talked. So the woman said
to Abba Carion, 'You have become a monk and now there is a
famine; who is going to feed your children?' Abba Carion said to
her, 'Send them to me.' The woman said to the children, 'Go to your
father.' When they got close to their father, the little girl ran back
to her mother but the boy stayed with his father. Then the old man
said to his wife, 'That is good. Take the little girl and depart; I will
look after the boy.' So he was brought up in Scetis and everyone
knew that he was his son. As he grew older, they murmured in the
fraternity about him. Hearing of it, Abba Carion said to his son,
'Zacharias, get up; we will go away from here, because the Fathers
are murmuring.' The young man said to him, 'Abba, everyone here
knows that I am your son, but if we go somewhere else, we can no
longer say that I am your son.' But the old man said to him, 'Rise,
let us go away from here.' So they went to the Thebaid. There they
were given a cell and stayed there several days. But down there the
same murmuring recurred about the child. Then his father said to
him, 'Zacharias, get up, we will go to Scetis.' A few days after their
arrival in Scetis once again they murmured about him. Then young
Zacharias went to the lake which was full of nitre, undressed, went
down to it and jumped in, up to the nose. He remained there many
hours, as long as he could, until his body was changed and he

118 ]

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

became like a leper. He came out, and put on his clothes again and
went back to his father who scarcely recognized him. When he
went to communion as usual, Abba Isidore, the priest of Scetis, had
a revelation of what he had done. When he saw him, he was filled
with wonder. Then he said to him, 'Last Sunday the boy Zacharias
came and communicated like a man; now he has become like an
angel.'*

3. Abba Carion said, 'A monk who lives with a boy, falls, if he
is not stable; but even if he is stable and does not fall, he still does
not make progress.'

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