Dispatch from the Desert:  January 20th to 26th, 2020

African Saints (from the Prolouge of Ohrid)

  • Paul, Pausirius, and Theodotian (Jan. 24) 3rd Century, martyrs in Egypt
  • Zosimas of Cilicia(Jan. 24) 6th Century, Bishop of Babylon in Egypt
  • Ammon of Egypt (Jan. 26) a disciple of Anthony the Great (Jan. 17)


A Word from the Fathers & Mothers

“Some of them (monks), after helping themselves to bread, or olives, or whatever else was set before them, raised their hand to their mouth only once or twice, and having tasted once from each dish, were satisfied with such food.  Others, chewing their bread slowly and abstaining from everything else without trying to dissemble, practiced endurance in this manner.  Others ate only three spoonful’s of soup and refused any other food.”  III on Ammon, The Lives of the Desert Fathers


In Orthodox Christianity, we restrict ourselves to a vegan diet for about half the year with our fasting cycles.  The Desert Fathers didn’t create a set rule of eating for everyone.  During his time in Egypt, John Cassian did find there was a certain principle idea for all monastics (and all Christians, for that matter) to live by.  We should never eat to the point of gluttony.  The 19th century writer, Ignatius Brianchaninov warned that those stuffed with food and drink risked losing Holy peace.  There are various cultural and health reasons for going on certain diets and avoiding particular foods. Do as according to your faith and advice from a physician.  One need (and should not) eat according to the ways of the great monks and nuns.  Their restrictive diets were almost to the point of starvation.  But, consider that Adam and Eve ate without wisdom and fell from God’s grace.  Enjoy the fruits of the earth.  However, take things in moderation, if not simplicity.

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