2017 Week 5 of Great Fast – Devotional & Scripture
Devotional based on the writings of Desert Fathers
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Reflections on the Spiritual Practice of Almsgiving by the Church Fathers
"Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a
brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow
who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid
- St. John Chrysostom
"An old man and a brother lived their ascetic life together. Now the
old man was charitable. It happened that there was a famine and people
came to his door seeking alms, and in charity the old man gave to all
who came. Seeing what was happening, the brother said to the old man,
"Give me my share of the loaves, and do what you like with yours." The
old man divided the loaves and gave alms from his share.
Now many people hastened to the old man, learning that he supplied
everyone, and God -- seeing that he supplied everyone -- blessed these
loaves. But when the brother had consumed his own food he said to the
old man, "Since I have only little food left, Abba, take me back into
the common life again." The old man said, "I will do as you wish." So
they began again to live in common. When scarcity broke out again, the
needy came back seeking alms.
Now one day the brother came in and saw they were short of loaves. A
poor man came, and the old man told the brother to give him alms. He
said, "It is no longer possible, father." The old man said to him, "Go
in and look." The brother went inside and found the bin full of
loaves. When he saw that, he was filled with fear, and taking some he
gave to the poor. In this way, he learned the faith and virtue of the
old man, and he gave glory to God."
- The Desert Fathers
"Blessed is he who is considerate to the needy and the poor. Not even
night should interrupt you in your duty of mercy. There should be no
delay between your intention and your good deed. Generosity is the one
thing that cannot admit of delay. He who does acts of mercy should do
so with cheerfulness. The grace of the deed is doubled when it is done
with promptness and speed. What is given with a bad grace or against
one's will is distasteful and far from praiseworthy. When we perform
an act of kindness we should rejoice and not be sad about it. Let us
visit Christ whenever we may, let us care for him, feed him, clothe
him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal or by anointing him as
Mary did, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the
The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice and mercy is greater
than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the
persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so
that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into
everlasting dwelling places."
- Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzes
"Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead."
- St. John Chrysostom
"Not To Judge"
The old men used to say, "there is nothing worse than passing judgment."
They said of Abba Makarios that he became as it is written a god upon earth, because just as God protects the world, so Abba Makarios would cover the faults that he saw as though he did not see them, and those which he heard as though he did not hear them.
Abba said, "Judge not him who is guilty of fornication, if you are chaste, or you will break the law like him. For He who said "do not commit fornication" said also "Do not judge"."
A brother asked Abba Poemen, "If I see my brother sin, is it right to say nothing about it?" The old man replied, "whenever we cover our brother's sin, God will cover ours; whenever we tell people about our brother's guilt, God will do the same about ours."
Abba Poemen said, "There is no greater love than that a man lays down his life for his neighbor. When you hear someone complaining and you struggle with yourself and do not answer him back with complaints; when you are hurt and bear it patiently, not looking for revenge; then you are laying down your life for your neighbor."
One of the beloved of Christ who had the gift of mercy used to say, "The one who is filled with mercy ought to offer it in the same manner in which he has received it, for such is the mercy of God."
Abba Antony said, "I no longer fear God, I love him; for love casts out fear."
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