Seven Stories and Parables for the Week: Issue 8

There was a philosopher who gave Bishop Evagrius three gold coins under the condition that he will receive the money in the afterlife from the Lord. the philosopher commanded his children to put the voucher into his coffin, and so they did. on the third day from his death, the philosopher appeared to the bishop in a dream and said, “Go take your voucher, I have received everything in abundance according to it.” The bishop asked his children about the voucher, and they indeed found a voucher signed with his own hand when they opened up the coffin. the note read, “ thank you Bishop Evagrius, I have received from the Lord more than I had invested.”

The Gospel also supports this claim when it says, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21).

Someone asked an elder how a zealous Christian can avoid being tempted when there are so many temptations around: the world uses all means to oppose him; he sees monks who return to living in the world; he realises his own weakness, etc.?

The elder replied, “Let him imagine dogs that chase hares. Whenever one of them sees a hare, it immediately runs after the hare, whilst other dogs see just the running dog, and though they start following it, some time later they usually give up on the chase. However, the first dog that sees the hare will chase it for as long as is necessary to catch it. Neither the fact that other dogs turned back nor the difficult terrain on its way will stop it, although, as it runs through thornbushes, it often gets wounded. This is how a person who seeks Christ our Lord will chase him steadily and defeat all temptations that he encounters, until he reaches his destination.”

There were two friends. They had an argument one day, and one of them slapped the other one in the face. The latter felt pain but he chose not to say anything. Instead, he wrote on sand, “Today my best friend has slapped me in my face.”
They kept going until they found an oasis where they decided to bathe. The one who had been slapped in the face, almost sank, and his friend rescued him. As soon as he came around, he wrote on a rock, “Today my best friend has rescued my life.”
The other friend asked him:
— When I offended you, you wrote it on sand, and now you write on a rock. Why?
The guy replied:
— When someone hurts us, we should write it on sand so that winds could wash it away. However, when someone does anything good, we should cut it in stone so that no wind could wash it away.
Teach yourself to write your offences on sand and cut your joys in stone.

A new monk approached a famous ascetic, asking to show him the way to perfection.
— Go to a graveyard tonight, — the elder suggested, — and praise the dead who are buried there till dawn. And then come and tell me how they react.
The young monk came back from the graveyard on the following day:
— I’ve done what you ordered, Father! I was praising those buried ones out loud all night long. I called them saints, blesseds, great righteous men and women who pleased God, the lights of the whole Universe, fountains of wisdom and the salt of the earth; I claimed that they had all virtues that I had ever read in the Holy Scripture and in the ancient Greek books.
— So what? Did they say they were flattered?
— No, Father, they kept silent all the time; I didn’t hear a word from them.
— That’s surprising, isn’t it? — the elder said. — That’s what you’ll do now: go there again tonight and curse them till dawn as hard as you can. They will definitely start talking back at you.
The monk came back again, and that was what he reported:
— I cursed and shamed them in all possible ways. I called them dirty dogs, the devil’s vessels, God-forsakers; I likened them to all evildoers of the Old and New Testaments, from Cain who murdered his brother to Judas who betrayed Jesus.
— So how did you get away from their rage?
— I didn’t need to, Father! They were silent all the way. I even put my ear to the tombs but no one even moved.
— See, — the elder nodded, — you have conquered the first step of the Angel-like life, which is obedience. You will reach the top of this way of life on earth only when you become as indifferent towards both praises and curses as those dead persons.

There was a monk who prayed fervently saying:
— O Lord, you are merciful and patient; why is it so hard to save one’s soul, and why is the hell full of sinners?
He spent a great deal of time asking God about it. Finally, an Angel appeared to him and said:
— Let’s go, I will show you the ways that people choose.
They left the cell, and the Angel led the elder to the forest.
— Can you see that lumberjack who carries a heavy bundle of firewood and does not want to drop just a little wood to make it easier to carry? — the Cherub asked. — That is how some people carry around their sins and does not want to repent.
Later, the Angel showed the elder a well and said:
— Can you see a madman who draws water out of the well with a sieve? That is how people repent. They draw the forgiving grace, and then sin again, so grace flows away like water through a sieve.
Then the Angel pointed at a man and asked the monk:
— Can you see the man who laid a log across the horseback and is trying to ride into the church, though the log is stuck in the door? This is exactly how people do good without humility, with pride, and they don’t know the worth of it. Now tell me, is it easy for God to save these people, given that He is both merciful and just?

A philosopher strolled along the streets of a Greek city, surrounded by his disciples. They met a loose woman. She approached the philosopher and said, “You’ve spent half of your life teaching your disciples but if I wave at them, they will follow me and not you.” He answered, “You’re right, o woman. It’s because you offer them a downhill road, whereas I inspire them to go uphill.”

There were pilgrims who traveled to a big monastery for a big holiday. There were a blind man and a lame man among them. It was really hard for them to move forward. Suddenly, they were brought to a halt by a stream that cut across their path. There was no bridge across that stream; however, there were many big stones in the water, and most pilgrims could easily jump from one stone to another and get to the other shore. What could the blind man and the lame man do? The lame man could not step from one stone to another. The blind man could not see where to put his foot. They spent some time thinking about it, and finally they found a way out. The blind man seated the lame man onto his shoulders. The lame man told the blind man where to go. That was how they traversed the stream and kept moving forward until they reached the monastery.

It is hard for a person sometimes to traverse the river of evil and lies and reach the shore of godly Christian living. We can do it together, though, if we help one another like the blind man and the lame man did.