A Hungry Monk

A certain monk is mentioned in the Lives of the Fathers who even early in the morning suffered intolerably from hunger and weakness. In order not to transgress the holy custom of the monks, which forbade any food to be taken before three o’clock in the afternoon, he adopted the following device.

In the morning he said to himself: “Hungry as you are, is it a great thing to wait until tierce?” At tierce he said, “Truly I must make some effort, and not eat until sext.” At sext he put the bread into the water, and said: “While the bread is soaking, I can wait till none; as I have waited so long, I do not mean, for the sake of two or three hours, to transgress the good custom of the monks.” When the hour of none arrived, he said his prayers, and took his breakfast.

So he went on for some days, beguiling himself by these short periods of time, until one day, when he was eating at the regular hour, he saw a smoke arise from the basket of bread, and go out of the window of his cell. This was, no doubt, the evil spirit that had tempted him. From that time forward, he no longer felt hungry as before, so that, at times, he remained entire days without food, and without feeling any need of it.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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