Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: aint Isidore the Pelusian

“Why do the demons tremble before you, Abba?” a young monk asked Saint Isidore the Pelusian.

“Because, since the time I became a monk, I have not let any enjoyable thing enter my throat.”

All righty, then.  What do we make of this Saying? My first reaction, of course, is “what extremism” and to shudder.  However, I also choose to allow to sit with me a while and knock around inside my head until something emerges. I am reminded of what Jesus says about how it is not what goes into our mouths that defile us but what comes out.

There are many things we might enjoy putting into our mouths besides tasty food and drink. If we consider the use of “mouth” as a synecdoche in which a part is used to represent the whole, there are many things we could allow inside that are enjoyable and so very wrong for us. What we read, what we see, what we listen to, what we touch, no matter how enjoyable, could all be things that lead us into temptation. As Jesus tells us, what comes out defiles us.

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