July 19, 2015

Life and Sayings of Abba Diocles

Abba Diocles (Feast Day - July 19)

Dorotheos was a priest who lived in a cave, a man of blameless life and of great goodness. He was worthy of being ordained to the priesthood, and ministered to the brethren in the caves. On one occasion Melania the younger, granddaughter of Melania the great, whom I shall mention later, sent him five hundred shillings for him to share out among the brothers. He would only keep three of them, however, giving the rest to the anchorite Diocles, a man of the greatest perception, mentioned below.

"You are much wiser than I am, brother Diocles," he said, "and you can distribute these in a much more fair and faultless way than I could. You know better than I who deservedly needs help. These three shillings are enough for me."

This Diocles was educated at the Grammatica (i.e School of Rhetoric and Philosophy), and gave himself to the study of Philosophy, until at the age of twenty-eight, led by grace, he abandoned the liberal arts and turned to Christ and the philosophy of heaven. At thirty-five he went to a cave. He used to say to us that the mind of one whose thoughts depart from the contemplation of God becomes either demonic or bestial.

"How do you mean?" we asked him.

"The mind which departs from God," he replied, "of necessity is either captured by the demon of desire who drives you into lasciviousness, or by the malignant spirit of anger from which come all kinds of irrational impulses. Lasciviousness is bestial; anger is the movement of the devil."

"But how can a human mind be with God without intermission?" I asked.

"The soul is always with God whenever it is immersed in thoughts or deeds which are devoutly given to God's will," he replied.

Source: From the Lausiac History, chs. 157-158.