Theft and Desire

Not to engage in theft,
Not to ardently desire (Rule of Benedict 4.5-6; cf Rom. 13:9)

English: St. Arsenius the Great Русский: Препо...

Desert Father Abba Arsenius (Wikipedia)

Refraining from theft hardly seems like a “good work,” regardless of interpretation. Reining in desire even for the smallest things prevents being caught up with their pettiness:

Abba Agathon was walking. One of his disciples found a small green chickpea in the road and asked, “Father, may I take it?”

The old man stared in amazement and said, “And did you put it there?”

The brother said, “No.”

The old man said, “Why, then, do you wish to take something that you did not put there?”

The Desert Fathers found spiritual freedom in such renunciation; so might we.

(Story adapted from Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers edited by Tim Vivian.)


Tooling Through Lent is a series of brief reflections on Chapter 4 of the Rule of BenedictThe Tools for Good Works.

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About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
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