Friday, 1 March 2013

The Monk and his Cave - Life of Fr. Benyamin the Hermit

Fr. Benyamin in front of cave

His Life in the Cave:

Fr. Benyamin’s cave was simple, it consisted of a room where he received the Fathers at the entrance and on the right side a narrow passageway which led to a small kitchen and a very primitive bathroom. There are two more rooms in the cave, one of them was his hermitage (his lock-up place or inner cell) and the other room he wanted to turn into a prayer altar, but didn’t. The cave contained only a humble mattress, some simple food utensils and a number of books like the Bible and the sayings of the fathers. There weren’t any other books, clothes or money in the cave.

On one of the walls of his hermitage (the inner cell) he hung a panel on which he wrote:

“Know my brother the reason we stay in the cell, so that we know nothing of the world and what is in it or if people are good. When we hear the news of the world we will condemn and judge them and say that this one is righteous and that one is evil, and that is the work of God and not of man.”[1]

From this saying we can interpret Fr. Benyamin’s manner of life. For the person who loves his readings, this shows the direction he is taking, but the one who chooses sayings from the books to write them down and hang them up, well that summarizes and describes his manner of life.

[1] A quote by Mar Isaac the Syrian which I couldn’t find in English and translated it from the Arabic reference.

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