January 17, 2017

Sayings of Holy Abba Achilles

Holy Abba Achilles (Feast Day - January 17)


With weapons Achilles plundered cities below,
With pains Achilles gained riches in the city above.

1. Three old men, of whom one had a bad reputation, came one day to Abba Achilles. The first asked him, 'Father, make me a fishing-net.' 'I will not make you one,' he replied. Then the second said, 'Of your charity make one, so that we may have a souvenir of you in the monastery.' But he said, 'I do not have time.' Then the third one, who had a bad reputation, said, 'Make me a fishing-net, so that I may have something from your hands, Father.' Abba Achilles answered him at once, 'For you, I will make one.' Then the two other old men asked him privately, 'Why did you not want to do what we asked you, but you promised to do what he asked?' The old man gave them this answer, 'I told you I would not make one, and you were not disappointed, since you thought that I had no time. But if I had not made one for him, he would have said, "The old man has heard about my sin, and that is why he does not want to make me anything," and so our relationship would have broken down. But now I have cheered his soul, so that he will not be overcome with grief.'

2. Abba Bitimius said, 'One day when I was going down to Scetis, someone gave me some fruit to take to the old men. So I knocked on the door of Abba Achilles' cell, to give him some. But he said to me, "Brother, from now on I do not want you to knock on my door with any sort of food and do not go to knock at any other cells either." So I withdrew to my cell, and took the fruit to the church.'

3. Abba Achilles came one day to Abba Isaiah's cell at Scetis, and found him in the act of eating something. He had mixed it with salt and water on a plate. The old man, seeing that he was hiding it behind some plaited reeds, said to him, 'Tell me, what are you eating?' He replied, 'Forgive me, Father, I was cutting palm-leaves and I went out in the heat; and I put a morsel into my mouth, with some salt, but the heat burnt my throat and the mouthful did not go down. So I was obliged to add a little water to the salt, in order to swallow it. Forgive me, Father.' The old man said, 'Come, all of you, and see Isaiah eating sauce in Scetis. If you want to eat sauce, go to Egypt.'

4. An old man who came to see Abba Achilles found him spitting blood out of his mouth. He asked him, 'What is the matter, Father?' The old man answered, 'The word of a brother grieved me, I struggled not to tell him so and I prayed God to rid me of this word. So it became like blood in my mouth and I have spat it out. Now I am in peace, having forgotten the matter.'

5. Abba Ammoes said, 'With Abba Bitimius, we went to see Abba Achilles. We heard him meditating on this saying, "Do not fear, Jacob, to go down into Egypt" (Gen. 46:3). For a long time he remained making this meditation. When we knocked, he opened the door and asked us where we came from. Being afraid to say we came from the Cells, we replied, from the mountain of Nitria. Then he said to us, "What can I do for you who come from so far away?" He asked us to come in. We noticed that he had been working the whole night and had woven a great deal and we asked him to say a word to us. He said to us, "From yesterday evening till now, I have woven twenty measures, although I do not need it; but it is for fear God should be angry and accuse me, saying, 'Why did you not work, when you could have done so?' That is why I give myself this labor and do as much as I can." So we went away, greatly edified.'

6. Another time, a great old man came to the Thebaid to see Abba Achilles and said to him, 'Father, you are a temptation to me.' He said to him, 'Come, even you, old man, you are still tempted because of me?' In his humility, the old man replied, 'Yes, Father.' Now there was an old blind and lame man sitting close to the door. The old man said to him, 'I should like to have stayed here several days, but I cannot because of the old man.' At these words, Abba Achilles wondered at the old man's humility, and said, 'This is not fornication, but hatred of the evil demons.'