August 30, 2016

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Sarmatas

St. Sarmatas of Thebaid (Feast Day - August 30)


An Angel of God the Word came down,
Saying "Arise Sarmatas follow and rejoice."


Our Venerable Father Sarmatas was one of the early disciples of Abba Anthony, living near him in the desert of Mount Clisma near the Red Sea. After living a life of strict asceticism and prayer, he was martyred by a group of invading Saracens in the year 357.


1. Abba Sarmatas said, 'I prefer a sinful man who knows he has sinned and repents, to a man who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous.'

2. They said of Abba Sarmatas that on Abba Poemen's advice, he was often alone for forty days. He completed this time as though he had done nothing special. Abba Poemen went to see him and said to him, 'Tell me what you have seen by giving yourself such great hardship.' The other said to him, 'Nothing special.' Abba Poemen said to him, 'I shall not let you go till you tell me.' Then he said, 'I have discovered one simple thing: that if I say to my sleep, "Go," it goes, and if I say to it, "Come," it comes.'

3. A brother asked Abba Sarmatas, 'My thoughts say to me: "Do not work, but eat, drink and sleep.'" The old man said to him, 'When you are hungry, eat; when you are thirsty, drink; when you are drowsy, sleep.' Fortunately another old man came to see the brother and the brother told him what Abba Sarmatas had said. Then the old man said to him, 'This is what the old man said to you: when you are very hungry, and when you are thirsty to the point of not being able to stand it any more, then eat and drink; and when you have watched for a very long time and are drowsy, sleep. This is what the old man was saying to you.'

4. The same brother asked Abba Sarmatas again, 'My thoughts say to me: "Come out and go and see the brethren."' The old man said, 'Do not listen to them about this, but say: "I listened to you before, but I do not want to listen to you this time."'

5. Abba Sarmatas also said, 'If a man does not flee from everything possible, he makes sin inevitable.'

6. I once asked Abba Sarmatas a question, and said unto him, 'What shall I do, O my father, for I do nothing which the monks do? On the contrary, I am negligent, and I eat, and drink, and sleep, and I think many filthy thoughts, and my mind is ever disturbed, and I depart from one work to another, and from one group of thoughts to another. What shall I do, then? For I am troubled, and my soul is little.' And Abba Sarmatas said unto him: 'Sit in your cell, and whatsoever you can do, that do, and trouble not yourself. For I wish you to do now a little, even as did Abba Anthony in the mountain, and I believe that by sitting in your cell for the sake of the Name of God, you also will be found in the same place as Abba Anthony.'