Thursday, May 14, 2009

Good Mourning

Once a brother in a community sinned. In the same region there was a hermit who had not gone out of his cell for a long time. The abbot of the community went to the hermit and told him of the monk's offense. The hermit said, "Expel him."

So, the monk was expelled from the community, and he flung himself into a ditch and wept. Some other monks happened to go by on their way to see Poemen, and they heard the sinful monk groaning in the ditch. They climbed down and found him despairing with grief and they asked him to go with them to see Poemen. He would not, saying, "I shall die here."

The brothers went to Poemen and told him about it. He asked them to go back to the monk and say, "Poemen wants you." They did what he said, and the monk came to Poemen. When he saw how the monk was suffering, Poemen got up and kissed him, and hospitably invited him to eat with him.

Meanwhile, Poemen sent one of his brothers to the hermit with this message, "I have heard of you and for many years I have wanted to meet you, but we were both too idle to arrange a meeting. But now, by God's will, let us take this chance; make the tiring journey so that we can meet." Poemen had a rule about not going out of his cell.

When the hermit heard the message, he said, "He would not have sent to me unless God had inspired him to do so." He got up and went.

They greeted each other gladly and sat down. Poemen said to him, "There were two men and they were each mourning for a dead man. But one left the dead man he was mourning for, and went to weep for the other's."

The old hermit was stricken when he heard this, and remembered what he had done. He said, "Poemen is in heaven. I am only on the earth."

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