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When Abba thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age?  Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked people prosper and why are the just in need?’  He heard a voice answering him, ‘Antony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.’


Some brothers were coming from Scetis to see Abba Anthony.  When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an old man who also wanted to go there.  The brothers did not know him.  They sat in the boat, occupied by turns with the words of the Fathers, Scripture and their manual work.  As for the old man, he remained silent.  When they arrived on shore they found that the old man was going to the cell of Abba Antony too.  When they reached the place, Antony said to the old man, ‘You have brought many good brethren with you, father.’  The old man said, ‘No doubt they are good, but they do not have a door to their house and anyone who wishes can enter the stable and loose the ass.’


Abba Antony said: A time is coming when people will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’

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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.