Fasting with the Fathers, Day Fourteen

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They used to say about Abba Dioscurus that his bread was made of barley and lentils, and that at the beginning of each year he would set himself with some new task of ascetic excellence, saying, “This year I will not converse with any man,” or, “I will not speak at all,” or, “I will not eat food which hath been boiled,” or, “I will not eat fruit,” or, “I will not eat vegetables.” He began each year with resolutions of some kind and carried them out, and each year he set himself some new task.

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Thirteen

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Abba John said, “If a king wishes to subdue a city belonging to enemies, he first of all keepeth them without bread and water, and the enemy being in this wise harassed by hunger becometh subject unto him. And thus it is in respect of the hostile passions, for if a man endureth fasting and hunger regularly, his enemies become stricken with weakness in the soul.”

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Twelve

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On one occasion there was an offering made in the mountain of Abba Anthony, and a skin of wine was there, and one of the monks took some of it in a small vessel, and with a cup in his hand he went and carried it to Abba Sisoes. And he mixed him a cupful, and he drank it, and he mixed him a second cupful, and he took it and drank it, but when he mixed him a third cupful Abba Sisoes refused to drink it, saying, “Stay thy hand, brother. Knowest thou not that the third cup is of Satan?”

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Ten

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On one occasion two old men were going up from Scete to Egypt, and because of the fatigue of the way they sat down on the bank of the river to eat some food, and one of them took his bread-cake in his hand and dipped it in the water; and he answered and said unto his companion, “Wilt thou not dip thy cake in water, O father?” And his companion answered and said unto him, “It is written, When a possession increaseth set not thy heart upon it.” (Psalm 61)

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Nine

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A certain brother from the Cells brought some new bread, and he invited all the old men who were under vows at Scete to partake of a meal. And when each of them had eaten two bread-cakes, they ceased eating. Then the brother, who knew their labours of abstinence, and that they did not usually eat, and never satisfied themselves, made excuses to them, saying, “Eat ye this day, for our Lord’s sake, until ye are satisfied.” And hearing this each ate ten cakes more. All this sheweth how much they afflicted themselves in not satisfying themselves with any kind of food.

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Eight

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A certain brother was hungry one morning, and he fought against his inclination and determined not to eat until the third hour. And when the third hour had passed, he dipped his bread in water, and sat down to eat, but he forced himself to wait until the sixth hour arrived, when he said within himself, “Let us wait until the ninth hour.” And when the ninth hour had come, he prayed, and saw the working of Satan rising up before him like smoke, and he suppressed his desire to eat, and his hunger passed away from him.

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Six

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There was a certain old man who made a vow not to drink any water during the Fast of Forty Days. And when he became thirsty, he would wash a potter’s vessel, and fill it with water, and hang it up in front of him. Then the brethren asked him why and wherefore he acted thus, and he said, “That I may labour the more, and receive a reward from God.” Now he said this that he might incite them to great labours.

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Fasting with the Fathers, Day Five

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They used to say concerning Abba Macarius, the Egyptian, that if it happened that he ate with the brethren, he would make an agreement with himself that if there was wine on the table and he drank one cup of it, he would drink no water for a whole day.

Now the brethren, wishing him to be refreshed, used to give him wine, and the old man took it joyfully so that he might torment the body.

And when his disciple saw this thing, he said unto the brethren, “I entreat you, for our Lord’s sake, not to give him wine to drink, for if he drinketh it he will go to his cell and afflict himself because thereof.”

And when the brethren knew this, they did not give him any more wine to drink.

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