Ants, Wolves, and You

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In what, then, are we different from ants, when compared to them? For just as they care for the things of the body, so also do we; and would it were for these alone; but not, it is even for things far worse. For not for necessary things only do we care like them, but also for things superfluous. For those insects pursue a business free from all blame, but we follow after all covetousness, and not even the ways of ants do we imitate, but the ways of wolves, but the ways of leopards… or rather we are even worse than these. For to them nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God hath honoured with speech, and a sense of equity, and we are become worse than the wild beasts.

– St. John Chrysostom, Homil. LXIX 4.

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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