Tag Archive: Sobriety


The Ladder of Humility: Step 10

The tenth degree of humility is, not easily to lay hold on occasions of laughing. For it is written: “He who laughs loud is a fool.” [Ecclesiasticus 21:20]

~ Rule of St. Benedict, 7

At what point do I just declare myself totally unqualified to comment on St. Benedict’s ladder of humility? This step, about something so simple—laughter—is extremely difficult in our time or, at least, for me. The average person, even people in poverty, in the United States enjoys entertainment once the luxury of royalty alone. Every day we are met with hundreds of invitations to “easily lay hold on occasions of laughing.” What are we to do? Is our culture so depraved? Or, on the other hand, is this step of the ladder now passé? Neither. Continue reading

Sober

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