Palladius of Galatia tells the story of a man who became a monk late in life. He couldn’t learn a new craft, and he couldn’t write well enough to be a scribe. But he found a way to be not only useful to the other monks, but essential.
A man named Apollonius, a merchant, who had renounced the world and come to live on Mount Nitria, was unable because of his advanced years either to learn a craft or work as a scribe.
So he had this occupation during his twenty years of life on the mountain. From his private money earned by his own labors, he bought in Alexandria all kinds of drugs and things needed for the cells, and provided all the brotherhood with them in their illnesses. And one might see him from early morn until the ninth hour going the round of the monasteries and entering in at each door in case there should be any one ill in bed, taking with him dried grapes, pomegranates, eggs, and bread made of fine flour—the things such people need. This was the plan he had devised for a profitable life in his old age.
When he died he left his stock to one like-minded with himself, exhorting him to carry on this relief. For with five thousand monks inhabiting the mountain, there was need of this visiting, since the place was desert. –Palladius of Galatia, Lausiac History, 13.1-2
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Have I made myself essential in my own parish?
What talents might I have that would be useful, even if in an unusual way?
Father, fill me with your Spirit, and let my work here on earth contribute to building your eternal Kingdom.
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