Thursday, October 4, 2012

Amma Theodora


I think it’s interesting to find an “amma” amongst the abbas in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

The book says that “Theodora was one of the great women ascetics of the desert” and that she was “a woman consulted by many monks about monastic life.” I would like to consult her, too!

Here are some of her words (I’m quoting from the book):

Amma Theodora said, ‘Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.’

She also said that neither asceticism, nor vigils nor any kind of suffering are able to save, only true humility can do that. There was an anchorite who was able to banish the demons; and he asked them, ‘What makes you go away? Is it fasting?’ They replied, “we do not eat or drink.’ ‘Is it vigils?’ They replied, ‘We do not sleep.’ ‘Is it separation from the world?’ ‘We live in the deserts.’ ‘What power sends you away then?’ They said, ‘Nothing  can overcome us, but only humility.’ ‘Do you see how humility is victorious over the demons?’

Amma Theodora also said, ‘There was a monk, who, because of the great number of his temptations said, “I will go away from here.” As he was putting on his sandals, he saw another man who was also putting on his sandals and this other monk said to him, “Is it on my account that you are going away? Because I go before you wherever you are going.”’

Ah, yes. Lessons for me.  I protest against the “storms”; I lack humility; and my “demons” are often my own faults and sins that I am so attached to.

I’ve a long way to go.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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