The marvellous patience of abba Mutius

The marvellous patience of abba Mutius.

(cf. V.xiv.8) Desiring to renounce the world, abba Mutius sought out a monastery, bringing with him his small son of about eight years of age. They lay out side the gates for a long time before they were granted permission to enter. And when they were received they were immediately separated from each other, so that the sight of his son would not constantly remind the father how much he had given up, and how rich he used to be, and even make him forget that he was a father at all. In order to test still further whether he placed obedience higher than the bonds of family, his son was neglected, dressed in rags rather than proper clothes, subjected to slaps and blows from various people, often before the father’s very eyes. The father could see that the innocent child did not deserve these blows, and he never saw the child’s cheeks without them being stained with the dirty traces of his tears. Day by day he saw the child treated thus, but he endured it all for the love of Christ and in the virtue of obedience, with a stiff and unbending heart. He no longer thought of him as his son, for he had offered him to Christ along with himself, nor did he concern himself about his present injuries, but rather rejoiced that the child did not distract him from his own mental determination and fixed purpose.

Aware of this, the abbot decided to test his constancy still further. He saw the child weeping one day and pretending to be angry he order the father to pick him up and throw him in the river. As if commanded by the Lord he quickly picked the child up and straightaway carried him to the river to throw him in. In the fervour of his faith and obedience this would have been carried out completely, if it had not been for the abbot having ordered some of the brothers to patrol the riverbank carefully in order to rescue the boy. No sooner had the boy been thrown in than they pulled him out of the streambed, thus saving the boy from the effect of the deed which the father had performed at the abbot’s command.

(ibid. chap.28) His faith, obedience and devotion were instantly accepted by God, as was at once verified by a testimony from God. For it was revealed to the senior almost immediately that what he had done was to fulfill the obedience of Abraham (Genesis 28.) Some time later the abbot passed away from this world, praising Mutius before all the brothers because of his obedience, and leaving him as his successor and abbot of the monastery.


DE VITIS PATRUM, BOOK IV, Chapter 28 (Cassian, Institutes, Bk.4, chap.27)



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