A Cautionary Tale

St. John Moschos ca. 550-619

When we came to the Thebaid one of the elders told us that there was an elder of great repute living outside the city of Antinoe, one who had kept his cell for about seventy years. He had ten disciples but one of them was very careless so far as his own soul was concerned. The elder often besought and entreated him saying, ‘Brother, pay attention to your own soul, for death awaits you and the road to punishment’. The brother always disregarded the elder, refusing to accept what was said by him. Well, after a time, death carried the brother off and the elder was deeply troubled on his account, knowing that he had left this world sadly lacking in faith and devotion. The elder fell to his prayers and said: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, reveal to me the state of the brother’s soul’. He went into a trance and saw a river of fire with a multitude of people in the fire itself. Right in the middle was the brother, submerged up to his neck. The elder said to him: ‘Was it not because of this retribution that I called on you to look after your own soul my child?’ The brother answered and said to the elder: ‘I thank God, father, that there is relief for my head. Thanks to your prayers I am standing on the head of a bishop.’ (The Spiritual Meadow, 44.)