Patristic Tradition

From the Gerontikon ( 30.01.2009 )

Abba Antonios said: "The time is coming when people will be seized by manias and will behave like madmen. And if they see anyone acting reasonably, they will rise up against him saying: 'You are insane.' And they will have accurately said this to him, for he will not be like them."

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Several brothers went to Abba Antonios to relate to him certain visions which they beheld and to ascertain from him whether the visions were true or of demonic origin. They had along with them a small donkey which died on the way. Just as they reached Abba Antonios, he, expecting them, said: "How did the little donkey die on the road?"

"How did you know this, Abba?" they said to him.

"The demons revealed it to me."

And they answered him: "It is for this reason that we came to see you, for fear of being deceived, since we see visions and many times they come true."

Thus, with the foregoing example of the donkey, the elder made it known to them that their visions came forth from the demons.

* * *

The same Abba Antonios, pondering the ways of God, once asked: "Lord, how does it happen that many live very few years and yet others reach a ripe old age? And how is it that some live in poverty while others are rich? And how is it that the unjust continue to grow richer and the just are poor?" Then he heard a voice say to him: "Antonios, watch yourself, for those things which you ask about belong to the inscrutable ways of God's wisdom and it is not to your benefit to learn of them."

* * *

Once Abba Antonios received a letter from Emperor Constantine the Great which requested him to go to Constantinople. He wondered about what to do. So he said to his disciple, Abba Paul: "What do you say? Should I go?" And the Abba answered him: "If you go, you will be called 'Antonios'; however, if you do not go, 'Abba Antonios.'"