Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You just never know.

Judging by appearances... not a good idea.

There is a story from the desert fathers wherein a monk went to see another, renowned for his wisdom and holiness. The monk was scandalized that the father lived in relative luxury compared to what he had been used to in his skete. The father drank wine, slept on a bed of straw, bathed, and ate rather well, although he fasted and was faithful to the rule of psalmody and other exercises peculiar to the eremitical state.

The young monk left the father to return to his skete. The father knowing he had been scandalized called him back and questioned him as to his life. It turned out the monk had been a poor shepherd, sleeping in the fields and eating a very meager diet, without any comforts, no bathing, except in the river, and so on. In the skete, he had regular meals, a mat to sleep upon, and a hut for shelter.

The father then told him of his past. He had lived like a prince in Rome, with many attendants and great luxury, dining sumptuously every day. Upon his conversion he renounced all of that and went into the desert to live the ascetic life as the young monk could see.

Filled with compunction, the young monk recognised his presumption and asked the father's forgiveness, often returning to him for spiritual instruction.

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