Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread

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The Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus on Anger and Meekness

Translated by Anthony P. Gythiel
Evagrius Ponticus (343-399 AD) spent sixteen years in the desert of Egypt, where he gained the gift of insight into the human soul. His writings influenced the theology of John Cassian, Diadochus of Photike, Maximus the Confessor, and Palladius. Evagrius’ image of the human being, profoundly biblical, allowed for a perceptive understanding of anger, its causes, consequences and cures. His major study on the topic “not ordinarily covered in works of theology” appears here in the English language for the first time and offers timeless wisdom on struggling with this passion.

Father Gabriel Bunge, is a patristics scholar and contemplative monk. He has authored many books, including The Rublev Trinity, and Despondency published by SVS Press.

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The one who strives for pure prayer and wishes to lead his intellect to God without thoughts should master anger and be on guard against the thoughts arising from this. I mean, the thoughts that befall us out of mistrust, hatred, and resentment, which most often blind the intellect and ruin its heavenly condition. St. Paul also advised us thus, saying that one “should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.”

When you find yourself tempted or contradicted; or when you get irritated or when you grow angry through encountering some opposition or feel the urge to utter some kind of invective, then is the time to put yourself in mind of prayer and of the judgment to be passed on such doings. You will find that the disordered movement will immediately be stilled.

From everything that we have heard up to now, it is clear that anger is an odious vice. It “animalizes” man and turns him into a “demon.” Furthermore, whoever allows himself to be dominated by this vice becomes a plaything of the demons, who terrorize such a bold person through frightful nocturnal visions. Had Evagrius nothing more to say on this subject, studying his writings would hardly be worthwhile. But we stand only at the beginning!

The man who stores up [grounds for] injuries and resentments and yet fancies that he prays might as well draw water from a well and pour it into a cask that is full of holes.

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Weight 0.45 lbs


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