The Desert Fathers: Praying without Ceasing

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Once certain monks of the kind called Euchitae‚ that is‚ the Men of Prayer, came to the abbot Lucius in Enna: and the old man asked them‚ saying‚ “What kind of handiwork do ye do?” And they said‚ “We touch no kind of handiwork‚ but as the Apostle says‚ we pray without ceasing.” The old man said to them‚ “So ye do not eat?” They said‚ “Yea‚ we eat.” And the old man said‚ “Now while ye are eating‚ who prays for you?” And again he questioned them‚ saying‚ “Ye do not sleep?” And they said‚ “We sleep.” And the old man said‚ “And while ye sleep‚ who prays for you?” And they could find no answer.

And he said to them‚ “Forgive me‚ my brethren‚ but behold ye do not do as ye have said: but I shall show you how in working with my hands‚ I pray without ceasing. For I sit‚ by the help of God‚ steeping my few palm-leaves and from them I weave a mat‚ and I say‚ ‘Have mercy upon me‚ O God‚ according to thy loving-kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.‘” And he said to them‚ “Is this a prayer or no?” And they said to him‚ “Yea.” And he said‚ “When I abide all the day working and praying with heart and mouth‚ I make sixteen denarii more or less‚ and out of them I leave two at the door‚ and I spend the rest on food. But whoso finds the two denarii prays for me while I eat and sleep: and so by God’s grace there is fulfilled in me as the Scripture saith‚ ‘Pray without ceasing’”.

Excerpted from: ‘The Desert Fathers’ by Helen Waddell

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