Sayings of the Fathers: Arsenios (5)

41. And they say that the whole time of his life, sitting for the work of his hands, he had a furrow in his chest, a gift of the tears falling from his eyes. And Abba Poimen, hearing that he had fallen asleep, said, weeping, Blessed are you, Abba Arsenios, for you wept for yourself here in the world. For he who does not weep here, will weep there forever. So, either willing here, or there from tortures, it is impossible not to weep.

42. And Abba Daniel related about him, that: He never wanted to speak of any question from the Scriptures, though able to speak if he wanted. But neither did he easily write a letter. And when on occasion he came to the church, he sat behind the pillar, so no one would see his face, nor would he face another. And his appearance was angelic, like Jacob, all grey-haired and graceful of body, and possessing austerity, and had a great beard hanging down to his loins. And the lashes of his eyes had fallen out from weeping. He was tall, but bent over from age. He reached ninety-five years. For forty years he worked in the palace of Theodosius the Great of Divine memory, father of the divine Arcadius and Honorius, and he worked forty years in Skete, and ten in Troē above Babylon, opposite Memphis, and three years at Canopus of Alexandria. And the other two years, he went again to Troē, and there fell asleep, finishing his race in peace and in fear of God. For he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And he left me his leather tunic, and white hair shirt, and palm-frond sandals. And I, unworthy, wear them, so I may be blessed.

43. Abba Daniel related further about Abba Arsenios, that: Once he called my Fathers, Abba Alexander and Zoilos, and humbling himself said to them, Since the demons battle me, and I do not know whether they will rob me in sleep, rather struggle with me this night, and guard me so I do not fall asleep during the vigil. And one sat on his right, and one on the left, keeping silence late at night. And my Fathers said that: We fell asleep and we awoke, and we could not discern him to have been sleeping. And early in the morning (God knows whether he did it by himself, to make us think he had slept, or in truth the state of sleep had come), he huffed three breaths, and promptly rose, saying, I slept, indeed. And we answered, We don’t know.

44. Some elders once came to Abba Arsenios, and asked often in order to meet him. And he opened [the door] to them. And they asked him to say a word to them about those who live in stillness and without meeting others. The elder said to them, As long as the virgin is in the house of her father, many wish to be betrothed to her. But once she has taken a husband, she is no longer pleasing to all, some hating, others approving, but she no longer has the same honor as earlier when she was hidden. So also with the soul. As soon as it is shown to people, it is no longer able to fulfill.

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