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Instructions To A Monk

Instructions to a Monk - St Shenouda Pimonakhos Articles

My son, listen and be wise, accept the true doctrine, for there are many ways. Be able to obey God like Abraham, who abandoned his country, went into exile, and with Isaac lived in a tent in the promised land as in a foreign country. He obeyed, humbled himself, and was given an inheritance; he was even put to the test over Isaac. He was courageous in trial and offered Isaac in sacrifice to God; and for that, God called him His friend.

When a thought oppresses you, do not be downhearted, but put up with it in courage, saying; ”They swarmed around me closer and closer, but I drove them back in the name of the Lord.” (Ps 118:10) Divine help will arrive at your side immediately, and you will drive them away from you, and courage will compass you round about, and the glory of God will walk with you; and you will be filled to your soul’s desire. For the ways of God are humility of heart and gentleness. It is said indeed; Whom shall I consider if not the humble and the meek?’ (Is 66:2) If you move ahead in the ways of the Lord, He will watch over you, will give you strength, and will fill you with knowledge and wisdom. Your remembrance will remain before him at all times. He will deliver you from the devil, and in your dying day he will grant you his peace.

My son, obey me. Do not be negligent, “Give your eyes no sleep, your eyelids no rest, so that you may break free like a gazelle from the snares”; (Pr 6:4-5) For, O my son, all the spirits have attacked me often since my childhood. When I was in the desert they afflicted me to the point that I was about to lose heart and I thought I could not resist the threats of the dragon. He tormented me in every possible way. If I showed myself, he battled me with flames; if I withdrew, he afflicted me with his insolence. Many a time my heart was in distress, and I turned from side to side and had no rest. When I fled to God with tears, humility, fasts, and vigils, then the enemy and all his spirits grew weak before me, God’s courage came into me, and I experienced at once God’s help. For in his mercy he makes his strength and goodness known to the sons of men.

Recite constantly the words of God. Put up with fatigue and be grateful for everything. Shun the praise of men and love the one who, in the fear of the Lord, reprimands you. Let every man be profitable to you so that you may be good to everyone. Persevere in your work, and in language be above reproach. Do not take one step forward, then a step backward, that God may not detest you; for the crown shall go to the one who perseveres. Be ever more obedient to God, and He will save you.

If you wish to live among men, imitate Abraham, Lot, Moses, and Samuel. If you wish to live in the desert, all the prophets have led the way there before you. Be like them, wandering in the deserts, valleys and caves of the earth, plunged in misery, trials, and affliction. It is said again, The shadow of the parched and the spirit of the maltreated will bless you. And then, for the thief on the cross the one who spoke a word the Lord forgave his sins and received him into paradise. See what honor will be yours if you have steadfastness in the face of trial or of the spirit of fornication, or the spirit of pride, or any other passion. Do battle against diabolic passions, not to follow them, and Jesus will grant you what he has promised.