A Man who Neglects to Reveal his Thoughts will not Gain Any Benefits

Apophthegmata Patrum translated by St Theophan the Recluse.

40. The same Elder both in order to prove the virtues of the law and to teach us told us this story: two brothers who lived in Lavra in separate cells used to visit each other. Once one of them said to his brother, ‘I would like to visit Abba Zenon to reveal him a thought of mine.’ The latter answered, ‘So would I.’ Therefore, they went together. Each of them confided their thoughts to Abba privately. The first one prostrated before Abba with begging him with tears and Abba told him, ‘Go, do not neglect, do not judge, and do not omit your prayer.’ Then that brother came back to his cell, spiritually healed. The latter, however, did not beg Abba with pain but said only, ‘Pray for me.’ After a certain time two monks got together and one asked another, ‘Did you reveal your thought to Abba you wanted?’ He said, ‘I did.’ The brother asked again, ‘Did you get any benefit revealing it?’ He said again, ‘I did; God has healed me by the prayers of the Elder.’ The latter said, ‘I did reveal my thought; however, I did not get any relief.’ Then the healed one said, ‘How did you ask the Elder?’ The brother told that he asked to pray for him, as he has such and such thoughts. The healed brother answered, ‘I poured my tears on his feet and begged him to pray for me, when revealing him my thoughts, and God healed me by his prayers.’ Therefore, concluded the Elder his story, a brother, who is asking an Abba about his thoughts, has to beg him with all his might and pain, as if he were asking God himself, and he will get help then; the one, however, who reveals neglectfully or even tempting his Abba, not only will get no help whatsoever, but will be condemned.


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