Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism


"Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


The Old Monk
and the Lioness
 


The following comes from the Vitae Patrum (Life of the Fathers), compiled, in Latin, in 1628 by Heribert Rosweyde, S.J., from sources dating to the third and fourth centuries.

  

In entering the nearest part of the desert I had as guide one of the brothers who knew the area well. We came to an old monk, living at the foot of a mountain, who had a well, a most rare thing in these parts. He had an ox whose sole task was to turn a wheel which drew the water up. The well was reputed to be a thousand feet deep or more. There was a garden with many vegetables of various different kinds, contrary to what one would expect in a desert where the soil is dry, burned up by the heat of the sun, incapable of sustaining the smallest seed or root. By the ingenuity of this holy man and the labour of both him and his ox, they were able to irrigate the sand regularly, providing sufficient fertility for the vegetables that we could see growing and coming to maturity so wonderfully in that garden. The ox and his master both lived off them, and the holy man was able to provide us with a meal from his plentiful store.

After the meal, as it drew towards evening, he took us to a palm tree about two miles away the fruits of which he often gathered. This is the only sort of tree which grows in the desert, albeit rarely. Whether wise people of old planted them, or whether the soil produces them naturally, I know not, unless God in his providence prepared them for his servants against the time when the desert should be inhabited. For those who settle in these lonely places live off the fruit of these trees for the most part, since nothing else will grow there.

As we approached the tree towards which our host was leading us we suddenly came upon a lion. My guide and I were terrified, but the holy man went up to it quite casually. We followed, though still frightened. At his command the beast stopped and sat down, while he picked some of the fruit within easy reach on the lower branches. When his hands were full the beast came up to him and accepted fruit from him as easily as any domestic animal, and having eaten, departed. As we watched, still trembling, we were not quite sure which was the greater, the virtue of faith in this man, or our own weakness.

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