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(c. 365 - 435)

We found ourselves with a burning zeal to visit the remoter districts of Egypt where the number of holy men was greater and they were more practiced in perfection.  We reached the village of Diolcos, lying on one of the seven mouths of the Nile, and we came there; not because of any requirements of travel but because we were urged on by the wish to see the holy men who were living there.  We were rather like extremely zealous purchasers of goods, and we had heard that he famous monasteries had been established there by the oldest of the fathers.  So we undertook a voyage of discovery with hopes all the greater for ever more gain. 

Travelling very far we raised our eager eyes to those high mountains with their crown of virtue and we saw, first of all, abba Piamun.  He was the oldest of all the anchorites living there and he was also their priest.  He was like a very high beacon.  He was like the city on a hilltop referred to in the Gospel and he immediately shone in our sight….

The blessed Piamun welcomed us with a lively show of gladness.  He also gave us the refreshment which we needed; and seeing that we were not from this area he was very interested to know where we came from and why we had come to Egypt.  When he discovered that we had travelled from a Syriac monastery because of our longing for perfection he began to speak to us as follows.

‘My sons… I have known some peoples who came here from where you live and who travelled around to the monasteries of the brethren, and all for the sake of acquiring knowledge.  But it never occurred to them to practice the rules or the customs which were the objective of their travels.  Nor would they withdraw into a cell where they could try to practise what they had seen and heard…. What else could we believe except that they had come here solely for the purpose of getting fed?’



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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.