A garden that drinks from one fountain – Abba John Colobos

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Abba John used to say, “The whole company of the holy men is like a garden which is full of fruit-bearing trees of various kinds, and wherein the trees are planted in one earth, and all of them drink from one fountain; and thus is it with all the holy men, for they do not have one rule only, but several varieties, and one man labours in one way, and another man in another, but it is one Spirit which operates and works in them.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

The courtesan is the soul, the lovers are the passions and the lord is Christ – Abba John Colobos

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Abba John used to say, concerning the soul which wishes to repent: ‘There was in a city a courtesan who had many lovers. One of the governors approached her, saying, “Promise me you will be good, and I will marry you.” She promised his and he took her and brought her to his house. Her lovers seeking her again, said to one another, “That lord has taken her with him to his house, so if we go to his house and he learns of it, he will condemn us. But let us go to the back, and whistle to her. Then, when she recognizes the sound of the whistle she will come down to us; as for us, we shall be unassailable.” When she heard the whistle, the woman stopped her ears and withdrew to the inner  chamber and shut the doors.’ The old man said that this courtesan is our soul, that her lovers are the passions and other men; that the lord is Christ; that the inner chamber is the eternal dwelling; those who whistle are the evil demons, but the soul always takes refuge in the Lord.

[Abba John the Dwarf, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Seek refuge in prayer – Abba John Colobos

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Abba John said, ‘I am like a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers. When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved. It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy.’

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Lord, give me patience in the battles – Abba John the Short

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Abba Poemen said about Abba John the Short that he besought God, and the passions were taken away from him, he then became without a care. Going to an elder, he announced to him, “I see myself reposing, with no battle to fight.” The elder said to him, “Go and beseech God for the battle to come upon you, for it is by fighting battles that the soul makes progress.” The battle came, and he no longer prayed for it to be taken away; he said, “Lord, give me patience in the battles.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]