The Manichaean thought tried to sneak into Wadi El-Natron (The Natron Valley) among the monks. This thought prohibits marriage and eating meat considering them impurity. Therefore, the monks obliged themselves with eating even a very small amount of meat at least once a year so that no one of those who held that belief would find a place among them.
Pope Theophilus celebrated the feast with some of the recluses since the pope was known for his great love for monasticism, his frequent visits to the monasteries and meeting the hermits to ask for their counsel. The pope served the hermits meat. Each one of them took his share to eat of it with no hesitation. The pope was talking to them with love. He took a slice of meat and said, “I got you the best kind of meat ever found here. May you be satisfied with it.”
Suddenly, the anchorites stopped eating and left what is left of the meat without conversing with each other. The pope felt that there was a secret behind that strange behavior. Thus, he asked, “What happened? Why did you all stop eating at the same time?”
“Father, you know that we, the recluses, don’t eat meat.” One of them replied, “We only taste a very small piece of it once a year according to the custom of the monks of Wadi El-Natron so that the Manichaean thought would not creep to anyone of us. We don’t eat meat, not because it’s impure but because we seek a better heavenly food. It’s just out of obedience for your fatherhood that we ate. However, we don’t lust for it. As for saying that you had chosen the best kind of meat so that we might eat and be satisfied, it’s not our nature to eat for the sake of lust. Thus, we all stopped eating.”
The pope realized that he had not understood the philosophy of their spiritual life yet. He apologized. He learnt from them a spiritual lesson to support him in his fight; that is, to seek the sweetness of the celestial not the terrestrial food.
My Lord, give me from your table
The heavenly food which satisfies my soul
Light my insight and give me understanding
So that I may hear your voice and realize your secrets.
Thus, my soul will be satisfied with your knowledge.
My body will not then seek fullness and lust.
You are my fullness O the desire of my soul.
The Belly and Lust of the Dog
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