Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Abba Poemen on Compassion

The teachings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers and of the Ancients still have much to offer us today.

Some monks came to see Abba Poemen and said to him: "Tell us, when we see brothers dozing during the sacred office, should we pinch them so they will stay awake?"

The old man said to them: "Actually, if I saw a brother sleeping, I would put his head on my knees and let him rest."

--from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Do you agree with Abba Poemen that compassion is more important than duty? If so, how would you explain this to a duty-bound person? If not, how would you explain your views to Abba Poemen?

Please share your reflections with us here.

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