Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whitewashed Tomb

Archbishop John had a disciple named Eulogius. Eulogius was a presbyter and he used to fast for two days at a time, and sometimes ate nothing but bread and salt for a whole week, so he had a great reputation.

He went to see Joseph at Panephysis because he believed he would find more demanding discipline under him. Joseph welcomed him, and of his charity made ready what he had for them to eat. But the disciples of Eulogius said, "The presbyter only eats bread and salt."

Joseph began to eat without comment. The visitors spent three days in silence, and they did not even hear the sound of psalms or prayers, for the disciples of Joseph were saying the office in private.

Finally, Eulogius and his disciples went away, not edified. But, by the providence of God, a mist came over the plain and they wandered in circles and by mistake they came back to Joseph's cell. Before they knocked on the door, they heard the singing of psalms going on inside and they waited a long time outside listening.

Then they knocked on the door, and Joseph welcomed them again. Eulogius was thirsty and his disciples picked up a jug of water and gave it to him to drink. But the jug contained salt water mixed with fresh water and he could not drink it. When Eulogius had thought about this he began to ask Joseph to show him his way of life, saying, "How is it, abba, that at first you didn't sing any psalms but began after we had gone away? And why was the water salt when I tried to drink it?"

Joseph replied, "My disciple is away at work and I made a mistake and put salt in the water jug."

But Eulogius went on asking him, wanting to know the truth. So Joseph told him the truth, "That little cup is for the wine that we use in charity when we have guests. This is for the water that the brethren drink every day."

With these words, he taught him to have discretion, and cleansed him from merely human motivation. So Eulogius became like other people, and in future ate what was put before him. He learnt to be severe only in secret, and said to Joseph, "Indeed your work is a work of love."

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