Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Some stories of Abba Poemen on his day

One day a brother sinned in a cenobium. In the same neighborhood was an anchorite who had not been out in a long time. The abba of the cenobium went to consult with the anchorite about the brother who had sinned. The anchorite said, "Drive him away!" So the brother left the cenobium, and he went into a cave and wept there.

There happened by the cave entrance some brothers going to see Abba Poemen, and they heard the weeping. They entered, and found the outcast brother in great misery, and invited him to go with them to see the elder, but he refused, saying "I am going to my death here."

So, when the travelling brothers arrived at Abba Poemen's hermitage, they told him about the poor outcast brother. Poemen gave them a word of exhortation, then sent them away, telling them, "Say to the brother, Abba Poemen sends for you." So commanded, the brother went to the Abba. Seeing that the brother was in such sorrowand distress, Abba Poemen stood up, embraced him and was kind to him, and invited him to eat. Then he sent one of the brethren to the anchorite, asking if they might see one another.

Now the man had never left his anchor hold since the day he had first entered it, but he said that Poemen must be inspired by God, or he would not have sent for him, so he left his anchor hold for the first time after many years and went to see Poemen. Poemen greeted him with joy upon his arrival, and embraced him.

When they had sat down, Abba Poemen said, "Two men dwelt in one place, and someone belonging to each of them died; the first one, leaving his own dead, went to weep over the other's dead." Hearing these words, the anchorite was full of compunction, remembering what he had done, and said, "Poemen, you have gone up to heaven and I am cast down to the earth."

And another story:

A brother who had grieveously sinned revealed his fault to Abba Poemen and inquired of him, saying, "I believe I should do penance for three years." The elder said, "That is quite a lot." The brother said, "for one year?" "That is still quite a lot," Abba Poemen replied. Those others who were present then said, "for forty days?" "That is still quite a lot," he said.

Then Abba Poemen added, "I myself say, that if someone repents with his whole heart, and does not intend to commit the sin any more, God will accept him after only three days."

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