Yesterday's virtues are today's challenge
Stop listening to wise instruction my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)
It appears that the desire for virtue by men and women may have been stronger in seasons long past.
History records their unusual pursuits, reflections and affections. This group of noble ascetics are often referred to as The Desert Fathers, and they became the template for Christian monasticism. St Anthony the Great founded desert monasticism around 270AD. By his death in 356AD he had forged a massive and multiplying legacy to last into eternity.
Four ancient Christian sages (circa 400AD) familiar with devotion and practiced in asceticism still live to this day through their wise and repeated words.
(Please note the title 'Abba' means 'father', and 'Amma' means 'mother'.)
Yesterday's virtues continue as today's challenge:
1) Obedience is the best ornament of the disciple. He who has acquired it will be heard by God, and he will stand beside the crucified with confidence, for the crucified Lord became obedient unto death. ~ Abba Hyperechius
2) He who does not control his tongue when he is angry will not control his passions either. ~ Abba Hyperechius
3) Just as a treasure that is exposed loses its value, so virtue which is known vanishes; just as wax melts when it is near the fire, so the soul is destroyed by praise and loses all the results of its labor. ~ Amma Syncletica
4) Just as one cannot build a ship without nails, so it is impossible to be saved without humility. ~ Amma Syncletica
5) If you want to be humble, learn to bear generously what others unfairly inflict upon you. ~ Abba Serapion
6) If God does not glorify a man, the glory of men is without value. ~ Abba Sisoes
7) Prize the virtues and do not be the slave of glory; for the former are immortal, while the latter soon fades. ~ Abba Isidore of Pelusia
8) The heights of humility are great and so are the depths of boasting; I advise you to attend to the first and not fall into the second. ~ Abba Isidore of Pelusia
The Last Word:
God can do anything through a man who does not want glory.