I will finish one more small piece of work, and then I will eat – Apophthegmata Patrum


A certain brother came to Abba Arsenius, and said unto him, “My thoughts vex me, and say ‘You cannot fast, and you are not able to labour, therefore visit the sick, which is a great commandment.” Then Abba Arsenius, after the manner of one who was well acquainted with the war of the devils, said unto him, “Eat, drink, sleep and toil not, but on no account go out of your cell”; for the old man knew that dwelling constantly in the cell induces all the habits of the solitary life.

And when the brother had done these things for three days he became weary of idleness, and finding a few palm leaves on the ground, he took them and began to split them up, and on the following day he dipped them in water and began to work (i.e. to weave baskets); and when he felt hungry he said, “I will finish one more small piece of work, and then I will eat.” And when he was reading in the Book, he said, “I will sing a few Psalms and say a few prayers, and then I shall eat without compunction.”

Thus little by little, by the agency of God, he advanced in the ascetic life until he reached the first rank, and received the power to resist the thoughts and vanquish them.

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

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