Traduzidos para o inglês por A. J. Wensinck; obra publicada em 1923
ON THE THINGS A BROTHER IS PROVIDED WITH IN HIS CELL
It occurs many times in a day, that a brother, even if thou shouldst give him the kingdom of the world, would not consent at that hour to leave his cell or to (allow) any one to visit him. For the time of commerce (NT: often the image of spiritual things) has presented itself, of a sudden. Such things happen on days such as are considered as days of relaxation. Often on such days and even on those wherein he has intercourse with others, grace of a sudden will visit him, in tears without measure, or a vivid affection moving the heart, or a certain gladness without cause, or the delight of kneelings.
I know a brother who put the key in the door of his cell in order to shut it, for he was going out in order to be occupied with idle things as the scripture says. And there grace visited him, so that he returned immediately. Nobody, therefore shall blame a brother if, on the days on which he does not keep canonical solitude, he should happen to neglect the congregational service sometimes. Especially if he be not reputed base or given to inane occupations, and if he does not neglect it on account of bodily labour. You know, my brethren, that our work is not only that which is accomplished before the eyes of men; but we have also a service which is hidden from the eyes of men and which is not known to novices and lay people. For you are acquainted with the fact, that the solitary is under a rule and not his own master. Therefore if any of his brethren comes to visit him and he answers him not, he shall return immediately without blaming his brother. For he does not know that with which his brother is occupied at that time. The cell of a solitary is the cave of the rock in which God spoke with Moses, as the Fathers say. Those solitaries who have not been put to the test by the service which consists in the true taste of solitude, do not know these things They despise their brethren and judge, claiming for themselves equality with them in all things.
It also happens sometimes that a brother is suddenly set face to face with some necessary strife , and, with his hands laid on his heart, he is in danger of flying away. Being prostrated he beseeches God, not able to bear the voice of any one. These varying states are known to those who once have crossed this ocean and are acquainted with the winds blowing (there).
It may also happen that the thought of repentance may rise in a man and that his past may suddenly be united with the memory of his death and present itself before him. And this brilliant sun will be darkened before his eyes and every recollection of the world will be effaced from his heart.
It may also happen that suddenly billows may rise against him and his ship be engulfed in hidden abysses; things which are not known to every one, but which unexpectedly assail the solitary in his solitude owing to the violent struggles of Satan , so that the cell becomes a place of mourning.
Numerous are the varying states of this ocean and who knows its labours and its multifarious connections, the wonderful pearls in its depth and the animals rising from it? Blessed is he who sleeps not during the whole of his course until the port of death.
No one loves anything without multiplying his connections (with it).
No one is able to occupy himself with divine things without having cast away and despised temporal ones; becoming a stranger to worldly honor and delights, following the disdain of the cross, drinking every day vinegar and gall on account of the affections, men, demons and poverty.
Be alert, my brother, and be like a prudent merchant, bearing thy pearl and wandering through the world, anxious that its excellent beauty be not besmirched. Be careful, lest it be stolen from thee on account of thy laxity and thou go to Hell in distress.
Persue the small consolation which is gained from labour in its time, that thou may be deemed worthy of that great consolation which liberates those who have found it, from torment in this place of distresses. Do not reject small things, lest thou be bereaved of the great ones. No one has ever seen a child which sucks milk putting meat into its mouth . By means of small things the gate unto great ones is opened. Thou disdainest God, o my brother who desirest that God shall govern thee without His rule. No one has been entrusted with great things, without having been first tried in small ones. Think of this, o my brother, and remember me in due time: every station which on the morrow thou attainest to in this way of excellence and knowledge of the truth, will be found by thee more glorious and excellent than that in which thou hast spent the night before. Thou departest, wondering at the beauty of the station which thou has entered to-day. But its beauty vanishes by the beauty of that which thou wilt reach to-morrow. Who can perceive the mind ’s varying states, full of delight? Pray only, that the gate may be opened before thee.
Be on thy guard against dejectedness. Thou servest not under a tyrant; thy service is under a kind Lord, who has given thee all, without taking from thee anything and who, before thou didst exist at all, destined thee to ocupy thy present place. Who can do justice to His grace even as shown by His calling us into existence?
O, for His immeasurable grace! Who can sufficiently tell the glory of Him who has given us the knowledge of all things? Not only of those which are manifest, but also of those which are hidden, so that we know that, if there is anything that we know not, we must ask it of Him; who has taught thee, o mortal , to be moved by the desire of seeking that of which the knowledge is not in thy nature? Never seek a consolation that lies without the heart, which is the knowledge of discernment. Exalt thyself above all consolation administered by the senses, that thou may be worthy of that consolation which lies beyond. The solitary who has become alien to the consolation of the world, without expecting every day the consolation of Christ , is dead in his living state.
For God is compassionate and prone to give; but He desires that we give the opportunity. For He rejoices when man offers a wise prayer.
The mark of him who is recovering from illness is that he is desirous of the hidden things. There is delay, however, if he beholds essential health. He who wearies of asking is the companion of him who wearies because of delay. Weariness declines to ask in prayer, viz. it is an impediment to asking. Dejectedness shortens prayer and bars its prolongation. Expectation gives patience and incites us to prolong prayer. Expectation makes light the weight of fatigue in the limbs. It also knows how to impart rest to the heart in its troubles. There is no load the weight of which is more agreeable than work with expectation; nor is there any comrade with whom intercourse is more desired than with it. Prison is a pleasant habitation if it be there. Make it thy companion, o repentant brother, then thou wilt not perceive any of the labours of thy struggle. If thou art in thy cell, it will be with thee. If thou art found among men, fix thy mind on it. And if at any time thy heart errs after anything on the earth, this world and all that is in it will be found alien to thee. If thou sleep, make it thy bed-companion; and converse with it until thou art enfolded in sleep. Then no depraved deliberation will draw near thy heart, because thy occupation is of an immaterial kind and no object clad with matter, which by its appearance moves the spirit , is able to show itself there; and no demoniac deliberation knows how to show itself detached from material appearance.
The fruit of life sprouts from endurance in prayer. And expectation is a helper during prayer to those who possess it. When thou prayest, remember the husbandman who sows in hope. And He who causes to return twofold the seed of the husbandman who sows in faith, and who has estimated the seeking of His kingdom and His righteousness higher than the temporal things, He will incline himself to our prayer to our demands, as He has promised. Amen.