Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XLVI. The abbot Silvanus with Zachary his disciple, came to a certain monastery, and before they took their leave, the monks made them eat a little. But after they had gone out, his disciple came on water, and would fain have drunk. Then said Silvanus, "Zachary, to-day is a fast." He said, "But, Father, did we not eat to-day?" The old man said, "That was love's bread, my son: but for us, let us keep our own fast."

XLVIII. One of the fathers used to say, "One man is found eating much and yet refraining while he is still hungry, lest he be filled: and another eats little, and is filled. He who eats much and refrains while he is still hungry, hath more merit than he who eats little and is full fed."

LI. One of the fathers fell ill, and for many days could touch no food. But one of his disciples urged him, saying, "If you will let me, my father, I shall make you a little cake." And the old man nodded, and he made it. Now beside him was a little pot of honey, and another similar pot with linseed oil, and it was stinking and good for nothing, unless perchance for a lamp: and the brother by mistake put some of it in the cake, thinking that he was putting in honey. The old man tasted it, and said nothing, but ate in silence: but when it was given him a third time, he said: "I cannot eat, my son." But the young man, coaxing him, said, "Look, Father, they are good cakes and I am eating some myself," and then when he tasted it, and knew what he had done, he fell on his face saying, "Woe is me, Father, for I have killed thee: thou hast laid this sin upon me, because thou didst say no word." And the old man said, "Vex not thyself, my son, because of it: for if God had willed that I should eat a good cake, thou wouldst have put in the honey, and not this that thou didst put in."

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