Another time a vessel of wine was brought [to Scete] from the first fruits of the vintage, so that a cup of it could be given to each of the brothers. And a brother saw that they were drinking wine, and fled up on a roof, and the roof fell in. And when they heard the noise, they ran and found the brother lying half-dead. And they began to abuse him, saying: “It has served you right, for you were guilty of vainglory.” But an abba embraced him, and said: “Leave my son alone, he has done a good work. By the living Lord, this roof shall not be rebuilt in my time, as a reminder to the world that a roof fell in Scete because of a cup of wine.”

~ Sayings of the Desert Fathers 4.54

I am somewhat surprised that it has taken me this long to write a reflection about sobriety. The fathers commend its value often. Sometimes they are a little extreme in their rejection of alcohol, but I think it would be a misreading to say that they opposed it in principle. Even the most vehement condemnation is more a prudential matter. As another saying goes:

They told Abba Poemen that a certain monk did not drink wine. And he said to them: “Wine is not for monks at all.” (4.31) Continue reading

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