Philosophers Vs. Monks

V.xvi. 16.  It was said that some philosophers once wanted to put the monks to the test. They saw a monk passing by who was very well dressed and they called to him, “Hey, you, come here.”  the monk took exception, replied rudely, and went on his way. Another monk came along who was obviously a peasant and they said to him, “Hey, you miserable old monk, come here.” And he came. And they began to give him a few blows, and he turned the other cheek, until at last the philosophers changed their tune and gave him due respect, saying, “This is indeed a true monk.”  They sat him down in the midst of them, and began to question him. “What do you do in your solitude that we don’t do? You fast, so do we. You keep your body in subjection, so do we. Whatever you do we do exactly the same. So how does sitting in the desert make you more diligent than us?”  The old man said, “We trust in the grace of God, and keep guard over our thoughts.”  “Now that is something we don’t know how to do,” they said. And they left him, greatly edified.

De Vitis Patrum Book V, Libellus 16 on Patience.

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