There was a monk who had continually broken his vow of sexual purity and celibacy. His sin grew, as all sin does. He eventually brought a woman to live in his hut, so indiscreetly that word began to get around about it. Some of the monks living nearby decided to do something about it, and they asked their leader, Abba Ammonas, who was visiting the region, to go with them.

The offending monk, seeing them coming, hid the woman in a large water jar. This was spotted immediately by the Abba as they entered the small hut. The Abba took a seat on the jar as the other monks searched the hut for the woman. They could find nothing, and they went away ashamed for their accusations. When they had gone, the Abba got up, took the culprit’s hand, and simply said to him, “Brother, pay attention to yourself.” Then he said prayers for both the monk and the hiding woman and went on his way.

A Celtic Lesson from St. Columba

The Abbas–also called the Desert Fathers and Mothers–were early Christian leaders in the 3rd-6th centuries. People would travel from far nd near to seek guidance and listen to their wisdom. The Abbas were wise because they were committed to spending significant time with God, and seeking him in every moment and action of life, large or small. For more Abba wisdom, see also how not to argue.


A person must breathe humility

and the fear of God

just as ceaselessly

as he or she inhales and exhales air.

— Aidan Readings

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