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 Hermit
and the She-Wolf
 


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.


 We found another remarkable old man living in a small hut with room for only one person. A wolf had the habit of coming to him for food, and it was rare that she failed to turn up for her meal at a regular hour. She used to wait outside for him to give her what bread he had to spare out of his store, then lick his hand before departing as if to show her respect for the kindness offered her.

But one day it so happened that a brother had been visiting him and that holy man had walked back with the brother for such a distance that it was nighttime before he returned home.

Meanwhile the animal had come to the empty cell at the usual time to be fed, and when she saw no sign of her familiar benefactor, went inside, curious to discover where he was. Now there happened to be a basket of palm leaves hanging up containing five small loaves. She took one and devoured it, then, the crime committed, went away.

When the hermit came back he saw the basket had been disturbed and contained fewer loaves than there should have been. His house had been despoiled, and he noticed fragments of the stolen bread on the threshold. He had a pretty good idea of who had been responsible for the theft.

But the next few days the animal did not come at the usual time; no doubt ashamed to come near the person to whom she had done harm, and the hermit missed greatly the pleasure of her company. He prayed earnestly for her return, until at last on the seventh day she appeared outside at the usual time to be fed. But you can always easily tell when someone feels guilty, and the wolf herself did not dare to approach very close, but stood there shamefacedly with her eyes cast down to the ground, as if to make it clear that she was asking pardon for her fault. The hermit took pity on her embarrassment, called her closer and gently stroked her sorrowful head. He restored their relationship by giving her a double ration of bread, and thus by his forgiveness was able to dispel all sadness and reinstate their usual custom.

Just think, I beg you, of the power of Christ in this affair. To him everything brutish is made wise, everything savage becomes gentle. A wolf is aware of her duty, a beast acknowledges the crime of theft, a wolf is thrown into confusion by a sense of shame, she comes when called, she bows her head, and is as much aware of having her sins forgiven as of shame at what she had done. Yours is the power, O Christ, yours are these miracles! Even though it is your servants who do these things they do them in your name; the wonder is yours. And it saddens us that wild beasts can know the power of your majesty while human beings show you no respect. And if all this seems unbelievable I shall show you even greater things. As God is my witness I am not making these things up, but simply telling you what I have seen.

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