Evagrios the Solitary: Are Your Friends Holy Fathers?

Feast of Sts Eusebius & Haralambos the Monk-Martyrs

IF YOU have friends, avoid constant meetings with them. For if you meet only on rare occasions, you will be of more help to them. And if you find that harm comes through meeting them, do not see them at all. The friends that you do have should be of benefit to you and contribute to your way of life. Avoid associating with crafty or aggressive people, and do not live with anyone of that kind but shun their evil purposes; for they do not dwell close to God or abide with Him. Let your friends be men of peace, spiritual brethren, holy fathers. It is of such that the Lord speaks when He says: “My mother and brethren and fathers are those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven” (cf. Matt. 12.49-50). Do not pass your time with people engaged in worldly affairs or share their table, in case they involve you in their illusions and draw you away from the science of stillness. For this is what they want to do. Do not listen to their words or accept the thoughts of their hearts, for they are indeed harmful. Let the labor and longing of your heart be for the faithful of the earth, to become like them in mourning. For “my eyes will be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me” (Ps. 101.6).

~Evagrios the Solitary, Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life in Philokalia, Volume 1


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