June 8, 2018

Holy Abba Athre of Nitria

St. Athre of Nitria (Feast Day - June 8)


Turning your mind away with disgust from the things of the earth,
You gazed Athre at the beauty of your Master.

Abba Pistus related that which follows: ‘We were seven anchorites who went to see Abba Sisoes who lived at Clysma, begging him to give us word.

He said to us, “Forgive me, for I am a very simple man. But I have been to Abba Or and to Abba Athre. Abba Or was ill for eighteen years. I made a prostration before him and asked him to give me a word. Abba Or said to me, ‘What shall I say to you? Go, and do what you see is right; God comes to him who reproaches himself and does violence to himself in everything.’

Abba Or and Abba Athre did not come from the same part of the country, yet until they left their bodies, there was great peace between them. Abba Athre’s obedience was great, and great was Abba Or’s humility. I spent several days with them, without leaving them for a moment, and I saw a great wonder that Abba Athre did. Someone brought them a little fish and Abba Athre wanted to cook it for the old man. He was holding the knife in the act of cutting up the fish and Abba Or called him. He left the knife in the middle of the fish and did not cut up the rest of it.

I admired his great obedience, for he did not say, ‘Wait till I have cut up the fish.’ I said to Abba Athre, ‘Where did you find such obedience?’

He said to me, ‘It is not mine, but the old man’s.’

He took me with him, saying, ‘Come and see his obedience.’ He took the fish, intentionally cooked some of it badly, and offered it to the old man who ate it without saying anything. Then he said to him, ‘Is it good, old man?’ He replied, ‘It is very good.’ Afterwards he brought him a little that was well cooked and said, ‘Old man, I have spoiled it,’ and he replied, ‘Yes, you have spoiled it a little.’ Then Abba Athre said to me, ‘Do you see how obedience is intrinsic to the old man?’ I came away from there and what I have told you, I have tried to practice as far as I could."