Jacques Maritain Center
Desert Answers


The abbot Pastor teaches a certain hermit to think of his own sins and bewail them before judging and condemning a sinning brother.

Once one of the brethren in a congregation fell into sin. Now there happened to be in that district a hermit who was renowned because for a long time he had not left his cell. To him the abbot of the congregation went and told the story of the brothees fall. The hermit, when he heard it, said, "Expel that man." So the sinning brother, driven forth from the community, went away to a desolate swamp and lamented. Now it came to pass that certain brethren on their way to the cell of the abbot Pastor heard him weeping in the swamp. They went down and found him altogether overwhelmed with grief. Filled with pity, they asked him to go with them to the cell of the abbot Pastor. He would by no means agree to go, but kept saying, "Let me stay here and die." When these brethren came to the abbot Pastor, they told him of the man whom they had found weeping in the swamp. He immediately begged them to go back again and say, "The abbot Pastor bids you come to him." When the poor man heard their words, he arose and went with them. When Pastor saw him with all the marks of his grief upon him, he arose and kissed him. Then bidding him be of good cheer, he set him down to meat. In the meanwhile he sent a brother to the hermit who had condemned the sinner, with this message: "I have heard much of you, and now for a long time have desired to see you. Now, therefore, if it be the will of God and convenient to you, I beseech you to put yourself to the toil of coming hither.' When the hermit heard these words, he said within himself, "No doubt God has revealed to him the kind of man I am, and therefore he has sent for me." Then rising up, he went to the cell of the abbot Pastor. When they had greeted each other and sat down, the abbot Pastor said, "There were two men who dwelt in one town. In the house of each of them there lay the dead body of a friend. The one of them forgot his own dead friend and the lamentation that was due to him, and leaving him unburied, went to weep at the other's funeral." The hermit when he heard these words was cut to the heart. He confessed that he had been angered at the sin of another while he forgot his own sin. Then he said, "Surely Pastor dwells in heavenly places, but I am here below on earth."

-- Wisdom of the Desert


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