When Abba Arsenius Lived In The Nile River Delta…

iu…a noble came to see him.  This personage came all the way from Rome.  They were chaste, and rich, and feared God, and they had come to meet with Arsenius.  Theophilus was Bishop of Alexandria at the time and the noble asked him to introduce them.  So Theophilus entreated Abba Arsenius, saying, So-and-so from Rome has come to see you and seeks a blessing from you.  But the old man refused to see them.  And when the noble heard this they readied horses saying, I did not come to see mere men.  There are plenty of men in the city where I live.  I came to meet a phenomenon.  So traveling they found the cell of the father and he was home, and the noble bowed low to the ground before the old man.  But Arsenius lifted them up and said, If you wish to look upon my face then look.  Have you not heard that I am impoverished and just another sinful man?  And the noble said, I ask that you will remember me in your prayers always.  But Arsenius replied, I will pray that God will remove your memory from my heart.  Later the noble asked Theophilus about this saying and he explained, Distractions are the means by which true devotion to God is eroded bit-by-bit.  And the noble returned home with gladness.

The Paradise Of The Holy Fathers, Budge (trans.), ed.