LENTEN FIRE: March 9

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

Forgiveness and repentance

Not long before, some robbers had come at night from some distance away to attack Abba Theon.  They thought that they would find a considerable sum of gold hoarded by him, and intended to kill him.  But he prayed, and they remained at the door, rooted to the spot, until daybreak.  When the crowd came to him in the morning and proposed to burn these men alive, he was forced to speak a single sentence to them: “Let them go unharmed; if you do not, my gift of healing will leave me.”  They obeyed, for they did not dare to contradict him.  The robbers at once entered the neighboring monasteries and with the help of the monks changed their way of life and repented of their crimes.

Fresh grapes

One time Macarius was sent some fresh grapes.  He desired to eat them but, showing self-control, he sent them to a certain brother who was ill and who was himself fond of grapes.  When the brother received them he was delighted but, wishing to conceal his self-mastery, he sent them to another brother, pretending he had no appetite for any food.  When the next brother received the grapes he did the same in turn, although he too had a great desire to eat them.

When at length the grapes had been passed round a large number of brothers without any of them deciding to eat them, the last one to receive them sent them again to Macarius, thinking that he was giving him a rich gift.  Macarius recognized them and after inquiring closely into what had happened, marveled, giving thanks to the Lord for such self-control among the brothers.  And in the end not even he ate any of the grapes.

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