Matericon

St. Theophanes the Recluse

St. Theophanes the Recluse

Recently I just completed the book I was reading called, “Matericon”. This book contains the instructions of Abba Isaiah to the honorable Nun Theodora. I never heard of St. Isaiah before I read this book. So who is he? Abba Isaiah is considered a Holy Father of the Eastern Orthodox Church, he lived a solitary life in the second half of the fourth century A.D. Lower Egypt during this period was a place of ascetic labors where Abba Isaiah lived, in a desert skete called Scetis. St. Isaiah drew the attention of many monastics of his time, especially his beloved spiritual daughter, the honorable Nun Theodora, who shared Abba Isaiah’s spiritual instructions to her sisterhood.

The manuscript of all the spiritual instructions of Abba Isaiah from the 4rth century was discovered in Jerusalem by St. Theophan the Recluse- a great Russian spiritual father of the last century- he did not hesitate to delay his idea to translate his discovery for his own spiritual children. Finally, we have this manuscript presented to us in English!  Below are some of the quotes from the Matericon that I personally loved:

* “We who have taken upon ourselves this calling must keep extreme modesty. Many people in the world are seemingly chaste, but this does not benefit them in the least because with their other senses they are not modest.”

* “Let your lying down on the bed be for you the image of your enclosure in the coffin, and you will sleep very little and with humility. Likewise, let your food remind you of the bitter torments of the never-sleeping worm, and you will eat your bread and drink your water with fear.”

* “It is impossible to fulfill prayer and stillness as it ought when the mind is fragmented by many cares, even if one were to strive for this. The Lord himself says: No man can serve two masters, and again, Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Mat. 6:24)”

* “Friendship is great and honorable-but only if it is spiritual. Run from the one who wants to destroy your soul as from the devil himself. Believe me, in these days there is hardly anyone-due to the captivating age of your youth-who would (genuinely) desire to become a spiritual friend to you, except Sweetest Jesus Christ God. Besides, what need is it to have friendships with those who cannot in the least help you on the day of your death, or the Judgment? Push aside everyone, the little and the great, and cleave to Sweetest Jesus our God Who is able to help you both at the hour of death and on the day of Judgment; and, what is more, He can give you the never ending Kingdom. The Apostle Paul says: The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal. 6:14). So choose the better, as one who is wise and sensible.”

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