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One day Abba Isaac went to a monastery.  He saw a brother committing a sin and  he condemned him.  When he returned to the desert, an angel of the Lord came  and stood in front of the door of his cell, and said, "I will not let you enter."  But he persisted, saying, "What is the matter?"  And the angel replied, "God has sent me to ask you where you want to throw the guilty brother whom you have condemned."  Immediately he repented and said, "I have sinned, forgive me."  Then the angel said, "Get up, God has forgiven you. But from now on, be careful not to judge someone before God has done so."


 A hermit went to see Abba Poemen [of whom he had heard great things].  The old  man received him kindly.  And after they had exchanged greetings, they sat down.
             The hermit began to talk of the Holy Scripture, and of the things of the spirit and of heaven.  But Abba Poemen turned his face away, and answered nothing. 
When the hermit saw that he would not speak with him, he was distressed and went out.  And he said to the brother who had brought him there, "My journey was useless.  I went to the old man and he does not deign to speak to me." 
The brother went to Abba Poemen, and said, "Abba, it was to talk with you that this great man came here, a man of much honour in his own land.  Why did you not speak to him?"  The old man answered, "He is from above, and speaks of the things of heaven.  I am from below, and speak of the things of the earth.  If he had spoken with me on the soul's passions, I would willingly have replied to him.  But if he speaks of the things of the spirit, I know nothing about them."
            So the brother went out and told the hermit, "The reason is that the old man does not easily discuss Scripture.  But if anyone talks to him about the soul's passions, he answers."
            Then the hermit was stricken with penitence, and went to the old man and said, "What shall I do, Abba?  My passions rule me."  And the old man gazed at him with gladness and said, "Now you are welcome.”

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.