Saints Pachomius and David,
Athos, Dionysios, c. 1450.

Chapter 3: About the brother buried without psalms.

 5. It happened once that our holy father Pachomius went to another monastery to visit the brothers dwelling there. As he was on his journey, he met the funeral procession of a certain brother of that monastery who had died. All the brothers of the monastery followed the procession singing psalms. With them also were the parents and relatives of the dead [brother]. From a distance the brothers saw the Holy Man coming toward them, and they set the bier down on the ground so that the Holy Man might come and pray over him. So the brothers stood there singing psalms with the secular folk. When the Blessed Man had come and had prayed, he ordered the brothers not to sing psalms any more in front of [the dead brother]. He had the dead brother's clothes brought [to him] and ordered them burned in front of everyone. Then, when they had been burned, he commanded [the brothers] to take up the body and to bury it without psalmody. And when the brothers and the parents of the dead brother threw themselves at his feet and entreated him to let them sing psalms over him, he would not endure it.

The parents [of the dead brother] said, Father, what are you doing, inflicting on our son this new and unjust treatment? It befits not your holiness to display toward this corpse a heartlessness that could lead even the rude barbarians to pity and sympathy. Even an enemy, when he sees the body of his adversary lying immobile and voiceless, knows many times how to show pity. We have seen now, among you Christians, a new spectacle that has never been seen even among barbarians. By such heartlessness you have inflicted an ineffaceable disgrace on our family. Would that we had not seen you today, that our house had not inherited an eternal taunt through you! Would that our miserable son had never followed this savage life! For then he would not have bequeathed us this eternal sorrow. We beseech you, even though you have caused his clothes to be burned, allow the psalm to be said.'

6. He answered and said to them, `Truly, brothers, I have more compassion for the one who lies here than you have; and I showed more care for him, as a father, when I commanded this to be done. You care for this visible body; I struggle for his soul. Indeed, if you sing psalms for him, he will receive more punishments to account for the psalm, for he departed without having with him the power of the psalms. If you want to add to his eternal sorrows, sing psalms for him; but he will suffer more pain then because of the psalm and he will curse you. Because I know what is expedient for his soul, I take no care of his dead body. If I allow you to sing psalms, I will be found, in the sight of God, someone who pleases men, because for the sake of human satisfaction I have disregarded what was expedient for the soul which is going to be punished in judgement. God, who is a fountain of goodness, seeks pretexts which he can seize to pour forth on us the streams of his grace.

If then we, who have been found worthy by God of being skilled in the art of his divine healing, do not apply the appropriate aid for each suffering, we are rightly called despisers, as it is written, Behold, you despisers, and wonder marvellously, and perish. For this reason I entreat you: that his punishment may be lightened. Take him away without psalms. For God who is good knows how to give him release because of this dishonor inflicted upon him, and to call him again to life. Had he listened to me on the several occasions on which I admonished him, he would not have come to this.' After these words of the Blessed Man, he was taken away to the mountain without psalms, and buried.


Chapter 4: About unorthodox anchorites coming to the Holy Man.

 7. Another time, while the Great Man was conversing with the brothers about things useful to their souls, the porter came and told him, `Some great anchorites have come and they want to meet you'. He said, `Call them here'. They entered the monastery therefore and with the brothers he embraced them. After they had seen all the community and had gone round all the cells of the brothers, they wanted to converse with him privately.

As they sat in a secluded cell, the Old Man perceived a strong stench from them. He did not know the cause of such a stench, because he was conversing with them face to face and could not learn the cause by a supplication to God. Seeing their eloquence and their familiarity with the Scriptures, he could not understand their sickening stench. After the Great Man had conversed long with them about the holy Scriptures, and the ninth hour was come, they rose up to go away to their own place. The Holy Man entreated them to eat there, but they did not accept, for they were in haste to reach their place before sunset. So they prayed and made their farewell, and then they departed.

The Great Man, in order to know the cause of their stench, went into his cell and prayed God to  make it known to him. An angel of the Lord came and told him, `It was some doctrines of impiety from Origen that, in their souls, produced such a stench. But send quickly and call these men back and warn them not to be caught again by such harmful and destructive doctrines, for they lead to perdition.'

 Straightway therefore, he came out of his cell. He sent a brother after these men and when they had returned he said to them, 'I want to ask you a question'. They an­swered, `Speak.' He said to them, `The writings of the man called Origen, do you read them?' When they heard this, they denied it and said, 'No.' The Holy Man told them, `Behold, I bear testimony to you before God that every man reading Origen and accepting his writings is going to reach the bottom of hell, and his inheritance shall be the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. I Now, what I learned from God I have testified to you; I am innocent therefore before God on this account. It as your concern.2 Behold, you have heard the truth. If you believe me, and if you wish truly to satisfy God, take all of Origen's books you have and cast them into the river, and never want to read them again, and especially the blasphemous ones.' After saying these things, he dismissed them.


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