The Key to My Door

Today we read about the teaching of the fathers on how to keep watch over the mouth, which helps us to guard the mind.


V.xi. 26.  Again he said, “I once consulted abba Peter, the disciple of abba Lot, about how my mind would be in a turmoil if another brother visited me and told me the gossip about all the others, whereas my soul would be at peace while sitting alone in my cell. And abba Peter replied that abba Lot had a saying ‘It is you who have the key to my door’.  ‘What was the meaning behind that?’ I asked. And he replied; ‘If someone visits you and you ask him how he is, where he comes from, what’s going on with this brother or that brother, whether you get on with them or not, then you open a door for your brother, and you hear things you would rather not.’  And I said, ‘Yes, that’s quite true. How then should one behave when visited by another brother?’  And he said, ‘All sound doctrine is learned through serious thought (= ‘luctus’,  lit. ‘mourning’, ‘lamentation’). Where there is no serious thought it is impossible to have a calm mind.’  And I said ( in the text ‘he said which surely must be a misprint) to him, ‘I do have serious thoughts when I am in my cell, but when anyone comes to see me, or when I go out, they vanish.’  And the old man said, ‘You haven’t yet got control of them, but are only able to make us of them temporarily.’  ‘How do you mean?’ I asked.  ‘Whatever you work at, once you have mastered it, you can make use of it whenever you need.'”


From De Vitis Patrum, Book V, Libellus 11: Living Soberly

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