Saturday, April 2, 2011

Footprints of Blood

The story of a certain brother's love for a sinner, and how he gained thereby his sister's soul.

A certain brother dwelt in a cell in Egypt who was renowned for his humility. Now he had a sister who was a harlot in the city, and was working the destruction of the souls of many men. Many times the elders exhorted him, and at last hardly persuaded him to go to her if, perhaps, he might persuade her to leave her sinful life. When he came to the town one of the citizens ran before him to the harlot's house and told her, "Behold, your brother comes to see you." She then, because she loved him, left her lovers on whom she was attending, and without even covering her head, ran to meet him. He immediately stretched forth his arms to her, and said, "My sister, my dearest sister, have pity on your own soul. Do you not know that through you many are going to perdition? How can you bear this bitter life of yours? How will you bear the torments of eternity? She trembled exceedingly, and replied to him, "My brother, are you sure that there is salvation for me even now?" He answered her, "If you wish for it there is salvation for you. Then she fell at his feet, and besought him that he would take her with him into the desert. He said to her, "Go, then, cover your head and follow me. But she replied, "No. But let us go straightway. It is better that men should see me walking through the streets with my head uncovered than that I should go again into the place where I sinned. Then they went together, and by the way he taught her the meaning of repentance. At last, as they journeyed, they saw some men coming towards them on the road, and the brother said, "Since these men will not know that you are my sister, I beseech you go aside a little from the road until they pass. After the men had passed, he called her, saying, "Sister, let us go on upon our way. When she did not answer him, he went to look for her and found her dead, and lo! her footprints were full of blood, for she had started on their way barefooted. When the elders heard the story they talked among themselves of whether she was saved.

God in the end revealed it to one of them, that inasmuch as she had cared nothing for her body or its pain upon her journey, inasmuch as she had counted her wounds as nothing for the great longing that she had to escape perdition, that therefore, for the sake of her heart's devotion, God had received her repentance.