Sarabaites

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Travel the royal road, living in stillness with one or two others, neither alone in the desert or in great company; for the mean between these two is suited to most men. ~ Johannes Climacus
They are anxious to be reckoned by the name of monks without emulating their pursuits. ~ John Cassian

Sarabaites were Christian monks who dwelt in their own homes. This phenomenon was widespread before the time of Benedict of Nursia.

Quotes[edit]

  • Sarabaites, the most detestable kind of monk, ... lie to God by their tonsure. ... Their law is what they like to do, whatever strikes their fancy. Anything they believe in and choose, they call holy; anything they dislike, they consider forbidden.
  • Sarabaites, who live together in twos and threes, doing what they consider right, remind us of cliques and factions in communities that can go astray and grow rigid. There is also a tendency in each of us not to expose ourselves to criticism and to challenging questions. The sarabaites define their monastic life along their own views, and their own interpretation is their norm. They see hardly any need to listen to the experience of others or to accept spiritual direction in order to learn from the wisdom of others. "I already know what I have to do," they might say. Thus they can build a fence around themselves and lock themselves up inside. It is easier to enter into such an enclosed area than to leave it again.
    • Aquinata Böckmann OSB, Listening Community: A Commentary On The Prologue And Chapters 1-3 Of Benedict's Rule (2015), p. 85
  • They are anxious to be reckoned by the name of monks without emulating their pursuits.
    • John Cassian, "Of the Origin of the Sarabaites and their Mode of Life," The Conferences of John Cassian (c. 420 AD)
  • Those who ... shirk the severity of the monastery, and live two or three together in their cells, not satisfied to be under the charge and rule of an Abbot, but arranging chiefly for this; viz., that they may get rid of the yoke of the Elders and have liberty to carry out their wishes and go and wander where they will, and do what they like, these men are more taken up both day and night in daily business than those who live in the Coenobia, but not with the same faith and purpose. For these Sarabaites do it not to submit the fruits of their labours to the will of the steward, but to procure money to lay by. And see what a difference there is between them. For the others think nothing of the morrow, and offer to God the most acceptable fruits of their toil: while these extend their faithless anxiety not only to the morrow, but even to the space of many years, and so fancy that God is either false or impotent as He either could not or would not grant them the promised supply of food and clothing.
    • John Cassian, "Of the Origin of the Sarabaites and their Mode of Life," The Conferences of John Cassian (c. 420 AD)
  • The whole monastic life consists of three specific kinds of establishment: either the retirement and solitude of a spiritual athlete, or living in silence with one or two others, or settling patiently in a community. Turn not the the right or to the left, but follow the King's highway. Of the three ways of life stated above, the second is suitable for many people, for it is said: 'Woe unto him when he falleth' into despondency or lethargy or laziness or despair, 'and hath not another among them to lift him up' (Eccl. 4:10). 'For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them,' said the Lord (Mt. 18:20).
    • Johannes Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Holy Transfiguration Monastery: 1959), p. 13
  • St. Klimakos exhorts us: 'Do not turn to the right or to the left, as Solomon puts it (cf. Prov. 4:27), but rather travel the royal road, living in stillness with one or two others, neither alone in the desert or in great company; for the mean between these two is suited to most men.'

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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