A hermit who was anxious went to Theodore of Pherme and told him all about it. Theodore said to him, ‘Humble yourself, put yourself in subjection, go live with others.’ So the hermit went to a mountain, and there lived with a community. Later, he returned to Theodore and said, ‘Not even when I lived with other men did I find rest.’ Theodore replied, ‘If you’re not at rest as a hermit, nor when you’re in a community, why did you want to be a monk? Wasn’t it in order to suffer? Tell me, how many years have you been a monk?’ He said, ‘Eight.’ Theodore said, ‘Believe me, I’ve been a monk for seventy years, and I’ve not been able to get a single day’s peace. Do you expect to have peace after only eight years?’
The brother got up, said goodbye to the brothers and followed the eagle, which flew a little way and then alighted; on his approach it flew a little further; this went on for three hours. Then the eagle flew off to the right of the pursuing monk, and did not reappear. Nevertheless the monk went in that direction, and saw three palm-trees, a spring, and a little cave. He said, ‘Here is the place God has made ready for me.’ He went into the cave and stayed there, eating the dates and drinking the water from the spring; for six years he lived there alone and saw no one.
A hermit was asked by a brother, ‘How do I find God? With fasts, or labour, or vigils, or works of mercy?’ He replied, ‘You will find Him in all those, and also in discretion. I tell you many have been very stern with their bodies, but have gained nothing by it because they did it without discretion. Even if our mouths stink from fasting, and we have learnt all the Scriptures, and memorized the whole Psalter, we may still lack what God wants, humility and love.’
Hyperichius said, ‘He who teaches others by his life and not his speech is truly wise.’
A spiritual speech recorded in father Paisios’s hub residence in Saint Mountain Athos.