Jacques Maritain Center
Desert Answers

Of a certain brother who conquered his body lest he should grieve another.

One of the elders was sick, and for many days could not eat. At last his disciple asked to be allowed to prepare a special dish that he might relish. Now there was in the cell a jar in which there was a little honey. Beside it there hung another containing oil, and that rancid, for the lamp. The disciple by mistake poured the oil and not the honey on the dish he had prepared. The old man, when he had tasted it, said not a word but silently swallowed a mouthful. The disciple then constrained him to eat some more. With difficulty he did so. Again the disciple pressed him to take of it a third time. But the old man replied, "In truth, I cannot eat again, my son." The disciple still pressed him, saying, "It is very good. See, I will eat with you." When he tasted the dish, and knew what he had done, he fell upon his face and said, "Alas, my father, I have poisoned you. Why did you not speak?" Then the old man said, "Be not grieved, my son. If it had been God's will for me to eat honey then you would have put honey in your dish."

-- Wisdom of the Desert

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