Friday, August 5, 2011

The Philokalia: A Discourse on Abba Philimon

"It is said that Abba Philimon, the anchorite, lived for a long time enclosed in a certain cave not far from the Lavra of the Romans. There he engaged in the life of ascetic struggle, always asking himself the question which, it is reported, the great Arsenios used to put to himself: 'Philemon, why did you come here?'"

"He used to plait ropes and make baskets, giving them to the steward of the Lavra in exchange for a small ration of bread. He ate only bread and salt, and even that not every day. In this way he took no thought for the flesh (cf. Rom. 13:14) but, initiated into ineffable mysteries through the pursuit of contemplation, he was enveloped by divine light and established in a state of joyfulness."

"When he went to church on Saturdays and Sundays he walked alone in deep thought allowing no one to approach him lest his concentration should be interrupted. In church he stood in a corner, keeping his face turned to the ground and shedding streams of tears. For, like the holy fathers, and especially like his great model Arsenios, he was always full of contrition and kept the thought of death continually in his mind."

"When a heresy arose in Alexandria and the surrounding area, Philimon left his cave and went to the Lavra near that of Nikanor. There he was welcomed by the blessed Paulinos, who gave him his own retreat and allowed absolutely no one to approach him, and he himself disturbed him only when he had to give him bread."

"On the feast of the holy resurrection of Christ, Philimon and Paulinos were talking when the subject of the eremetical state came up. Philimon knew that Paulinos, too, aspired to this state; and with this in mind he implanted in him teachings taken from Scripture and the fathers that emphasized, as Moses had done, how impossible it is to conform to God without complete stillness; how stillness gives birth to ascetic effort, ascetic effort to tears, tears to awe, awe to humility, humility to foresight, foresight to love; and how love restores the soul to health and makes it dispassionate, so that one then knows that one is not far from God."

-- A Discourse on Abba Philimon --
(Palmer et al., "The Philokalia," Vol. Two, pp. 244-345.)

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