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November 17, 2015

The Sayings of Abba Longinus

Venerable Longinus, Abbot of Enaton Monastery (Feast Day - November 17)


You have as a great athlete Longinus O Christ,
You also have Longinus as a great ascetic.

1. Abba Longinus said to Abba Acacias: “A woman knows she has conceived when she no longer loses any blood. So it is with the soul, she knows she has conceived the Holy Spirit when the passions stop coming out of her. But as long as one is held back in the passions, how can one dare to believe one is sinless? Give blood and receive the Spirit!”

2. "Fasting humbles the body, vigil purifies the nous and stillness leads to the affliction that baptizes man anew and cleanses him of all sin."

3. "A dead man judges no one, and it is just the same with the man who is humble."

4. Abba Longinus was ill once, and he said to himself, "Be ill then and die, but if you ask me for something to eat other than at mealtime, I will not even provide you with the daily ration."

5. One of Abba Longinus’s disciples had done some inappropriate things. When Abba Theodore of Enaton found out, he came to Abba Longinus with another elder. They implored him to expel the disciple. But Abba Longinus did not listen to them, thinking that perhaps his disciple would repent and God would forgive him; he did not "desire the death of the sinner but hoped he would repent and live" (Ezekiel 33:11; James 5:20). He said to them just these words: “Woe to us because we renounce the world and have entered into the monastic life saying, ‘We are like angels,’ but in reality we are more evil than unclean spirits!”

6. They used to say of Abba Longinus that he was often spurred by his thoughts to go off into the desert. One day he said to his disciple, "Do me a favor, brother: whatever I do, put up with it and say nothing to me that week." He took a palm staff and began walking around in his courtyard. He sat a little when he was exhausted and then got up again and walked around. When evening fell, he said to his thoughts, "He who walks around in the desert does not eat bread, only plants; but on account of your weakness, do you eat green vegetables." That done, he also said to his thoughts, "The person in the desert does not sleep under a roof but in the open air; so you too do that." He laid himself down and slept in his own courtyard. When he had spent three days walking around in his monastery, eating a little endive in the evening and sleeping in the open air at night, he was exhausted. He rebuked the thoughts that had spurred him on; he condemned it, saying, "If you cannot perform the deeds of the desert, remain in your cell with patience; weep for your sins and do not go astray, for the eye of God sees our deeds everywhere. Nothing escapes him, and he cooperates with those who are doing good deeds."

7. Another time, they brought him one possessed by a demon. He said to those who were escorting him: "I can do nothing for you; but go instead to Abba Zeno." So Abba Zeno began to put pressure onto the demon to cast it out. The demon began to cry out: "Perhaps, Abba Zeno, you think I am going away because of you; look, down there Abba Longinus is praying and challenging me, and it is for fear of his prayers that I go away, for to you I would not even have given an answer."

8. On another occasion somebody came to visit him. He took his hood and came to the patient. As he approached the door to come in, the patient cried out, "Why did you bring Longinus here to persecute me?" and that very hour the demon went out of him.

9. One day Abba Longinus questioned Abba Lucius about three thoughts, saying first, "I want to go into exile." The old man said to him, "If you cannot control your tongue, you will not be an exile anywhere. Therefore control your tongue here, and you will be an exile." Next he said to him, "I wish to fast." The old man replied, "Isaiah said, 'If you bend your neck like a rope or a bulrush that is not the fast I will accept; but rather, control your evil thoughts.'" (cf. Isaiah 58) He said to him the third time, "I wish to flee from men." The old man replied, "If you have not first of all lived rightly with men, you will not be able to live rightly in solitude."

10. A woman had an illness they call cancer of the breast; she had heard of Abba Longinus and wanted to meet him. Now he lived at the ninth milestone from Alexandria. As the woman was looking for him, the blessed man happened to be collecting wood beside the sea. When she met him, she said to him, "Abba, where does Abba Longinus, the servant of God live?" not knowing that it was he. He said, "Why are you looking for that old imposter? Do not go to see him, for he is a deceiver. What is the matter with you?" The woman showed him where she was suffering. He made the sign of the cross over the sore and sent her away saying, "Go, and God will heal you, for Longinus cannot help you at all." The woman went away confident in this saying, and she was healed on the spot. Later, telling others what had happened and mentioning the distinctive marks of the old man, she learned that it was Abba Longinus himself.

11. Another time a woman who had something seriously wrong with her hand came with another woman outside the window on the north side of Longinus' cell, looked in on him, and took note of him sitting there. He reproved her saying, "Go away, woman," but she remained there watching him but saying nothing, for she was afraid. He realized and became convinced what was wrong with her. He got up and shut the window in her face, saying, "Go away, woman; there is nothing wrong with you," and she was healed from that hour.

12. They said of Abba Longinus that once a certain ship-master brought him some gold, which he had gained from plying his vessel. The abba was unwilling to receive the gold and said to him: "There is no need of this here, but do me the favor of mounting your beast and going in all haste to Saint Peter's Stairs. You will find a young man there wearing such and such. Give him all the gold and ask him what is the matter." The ship-master took off without delay and found [the young man] just as the elder had told him [he would]. He asked him: "Where do you come from, brother? Because I was with Abba Longinus and he himself sent me to you to give you this gold." Then, when the young man heard about Abba Longinus, he told [the ship-master] of his trouble. "I am up to my eyes in debt and, since I am not a man of substance, I have come out here to hang myself, outside the city. If you do not believe me, look - I am carrying the rope" - and he took it out of his breast and showed it to him. The ship-master gave him the gold and prevailed on him to go back to the city. He returned to Abba Longinus and told him the affair. The elder said to him: "Believe me, brother, if you had not moved quickly and got to him [in time,] both you and I would have had to stand trial for the soul of that man."

13. Another time, too, when Abba Longinus was sitting in his own cell with some fathers who were visiting him, he suddenly got up and, without a word to anyone, left the cell and hastened down to the shore. As he drew near to the shore, a boat coming from Egypt put in. On board was a holy elder who wished to visit him. They greeted each other with a holy kiss and then stood in prayer. The Egyptian said to God, "Lord, I have asked you that my circumstances not be revealed to the elder and that he not be inconvenienced." They went to Abba Longinus' cell, and next morning the Egyptian elder died.