LENTEN FIRE: February 21

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers 


The enchanter lures the wild beast

Question: With what kind of thought does the Devil lure the monk out of his cell?

Answer: The Devil is an enchanter.  With enticing words the enchanter lures the wild beast out of its lair and, catching it, drags it into the streets of the city where he releases it to people’s laughter, and when later it grows old in his captivity he consigns it to the flames or tosses it into the sea.  It’s the same with a monk: his way of life suffers when, drawn outside by his thoughts, he abandons his cell.

A crowing cock, a silly tug-of-war, and naked women

The demons also tried to shake Pachomius’s cell to make him afraid that it should collapse upon him.  Then against them he would recite the psalm, God is our shelter, our strength, a help in the afflictions that try us exceedingly.  So we shall not be afraid when the Earth is shaken. (Psalm 45:1-2)

Another time, when he sat down to work, a demon came to tempt him in another way; taking the form of a cock, he crowed in his face.  Or again, they would bring into the middle of the place a tree leaf and tie it securely with thick ropes.  Then they would stand on each side as though they were about to drag a big stone, shouting to each other, so that he would laugh with a relaxed heart and they would overcome him.  When he saw it, he sighed at them, and since he paid no attention to them, they withdrew.

When he sat to eat, they would come in the form of naked women to sit with him to eat.  But he closed the eye of his mind to them and the enemies disappeared without accomplishing anything against him.  He was indeed preserved by the Lord who says to all the upright, Do not be afraid, for I am with you. (Genesis 26:24; Isaiah 41:10)

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