June 7, 2011

Holy Abba Daniel of Scetis

St. Daniel of Scetis (Feast Day - June 7)

There are two saints that go by this name. The first was a disciple of St. Arsenios the Great [May 8] and became abbot of Scetis in Egypt upon the repose of his elder. He was present at Arsenios' death in 449. Daniel was left his tunic, hair shirt and sandals, saying, 'And I the unworthy wear them that I may receive a blessing."

Below are six sayings from this Holy Father:

1. It was said concerning Abba Daniel, that when the barbarians invaded Scetis and the Fathers fled away, the old man said, 'If God does not care for me, why still live?' Then he passed through the midst of the barbarians without being seen. He said to himself therefore, 'See how God has cared for me, since I am not dead. Now I will do that which is human and flee with the Fathers.'

2. A brother asked Abba Daniel, 'Give me a commandment and I will keep it.' He replied, 'Never put your hand in the dish with a woman, and never eat with her; thus you will escape a little the demon of fornication.'

3. Abba Daniel said, 'At Babylon the daughter of an important person was possessed by a devil. A monk for whom her father had a great affection said to him, "No-one can heal your daughter except some anchorites whom I know; but if you ask them to do so, they will not agree because of their humility. Let us therefore do this: when they come to the market, look as though you want to buy their goods and when they come to receive the price, we will ask them to say a prayer and I believe she will be healed." When they came to the market they found a disciple of the old men setting there selling their goods and they led him away with the baskets, so that he should receive the price of them. But when the monk reached the house, the woman possessed with the devil came and slapped him. But he only turned the other cheek, according to the Lord's Command. (Matt. 5.39) The devil, tortured by this, cried out, "What violence! The commandment of Jesus drives me out." Immediately the woman was cleansed. When the old men came, they told them what had happened and they glorified God saying, "This is how the pride of the devil is brought low, through the humility of the commandment of Christ."

4. Abba Daniel also said, 'The body prospers in the measure in which the soul is weakened, and the soul prospers in the measure in which the body is weakened.'

5. One day Abba Daniel and Abba Ammoes went on a journey together. Abba Ammoes said, 'When shall we, too, settle down, in a cell, Father?' Abba Daniel replied, 'Who shall separate us henceforth from God? God is in the cell, and, on the other hand, he is outside also.'

6. Abba Daniel said that when Abba Arsenius was at Scetis, there was a monk there who used to steal the possessions of the old men. Abba Arsenius took him into his cell in order to convert him and to give the old men some peace. He said to him, 'Everything you want I will get for you, only do not steal.' So he gave him gold, coins, clothes and everything he needed. But the brother began to steal again. So the old men, seeing that he had not stopped, drove him away saying, 'If there is a brother who commits a sin through weakness, one must bear it, but if he steals, drive him away, for it is hurtful to his soul and troubles all those who live in the neighbourhood.'

The second Daniel lived in the sixth century and lived in Scetis from childhood. On one occasion he was overtaken by certain Barbarians and captured for two years. He was bailed out by a certain pious Christian, but again he was captured and held for six months, though this time he was able to escape. When men were sent to bring him back, human instinct for survival came over him and with a rock Daniel killed a man to escape being captured a third time. That murder lay on his conscience like a lead weight. In perplexity as to what he should do, he went to Timothy, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and asked his advice. The Patriarch soothed him, and released him from all penance. But his conscience continued to gnaw at him, and he went to Rome, to the Pope. The Pope gave him the same reply as had the Patriarch. Still dissatisfied, Daniel visited the remaining patriarchs in turn; going to Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem, even the Metropolitan of Ephesus, confessing to each of them and asking for advice. But he could find no peace. So he returned home to Alexandria and declared himself to the authorities as a murderer, and was flung into prison. At his trial before the governor, Daniel told how everything had come about, and pleaded that he might be killed too, that his soul might be saved from eternal fire. The governor was amazed at the whole thing, and said to him: 'Go your way, Father, and pray to God for me, even if you kill seven more!' Still dissatisfied with this, Daniel resolved to take a leper into his cell and care for him until he died, and then find another. He did as he had resolved, and in this way brought peace to his conscience.