On fasting


Abba John the Short said, "If a king wants to take a city whose citizens are hostile, he first captures the food and water of the inhabitants of the city, and when they are starving subdues them. So it is with gluttony. If a man is earnest in fasting and hunger, the enemies which trouble his soul will grow weak."

On purity of heart


Abba Poemen said, "Teach your heart to keep what your tongue teaches others."

On judging


A brother asked Abba Poemen, "I am troubled in spirit, and want to leave this place."

And the old man said, "Why?"

And he said, "I have heard unedifying stories about one of the brothers."

And the old man said, "Are the stories true?" And he said, "Yes, Father. The brother who told me is a man of trust."

And the old man answered, "The brother who told you is not a man of trust. For if he was so, he would not have told you these stories. When God heard the cry of the men of Sodom, he did not believe it until he had gone down and seen with his own eyes."

And the brother said, "I too have seen it with my own eyes."

When the old man heard this, he looked down and picked off the ground a wisp of straw, and he said, "What is this?"

And he answered, "Straw."

Then the old man reached up and touched the roof of the cell, and said, "What is this?"

And he answered, "It is the beam that holds up the roof."

And the old man said, "Take it into your heart that your sins are like this beam, and that brother's sins are like this wisp of straw."

On true righteousness


Abba Poemen said, "One man seems silent of speech, but is condemning other people within his heart—he is really talking incessantly. Another man seems to talk all day, yet keeps his silence, for he always speaks in a way that is useful to his hearers."

On anger


Abba Agatho ...

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