An Example of Leniency from the Life of Saint Anthony the Great

St. Anthony the Great

St. Anthony the Great

A hunter, wandering through the desert, came upon Abba Anthony while he was making jokes with the brethren; and he was shocked. Wishing to teach the hunter that it is sometimes necessary to relax with the brethren, the old man said to him: “Put an arrow in your bow and bend it.” The hunter did so. “Bend it a little more,” said Anthony. The hunter obeyed. “And still more,” Anthony told him. “But if I draw the string too tight,” said the hunter, “the bow will snap.” And the old man said to him: “It is the same in the work of God. If in the case of the brethren we draw the string too tight, they will snap under the strain. So it is necessary sometimes to relax with them.” When the hunter heard this, he was filled with compunction, and profiting much from what the old man had said, he went his way. And the brethren, greatly strengthened, departed to their own place.

* This excerpt is from “The Sayings of the Desert Fathers”

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