How monks of the olden days lived? ( St. John Cassian)

‘. . . in the early days of the faith few indeed — but they were very upright — were regarded as monks, and they had received that form of life from the evangelist Mark of blessed memory, who was the first to rule as bishop over the city of Alexandria.

They not only retained then those magnificent qualities that we read in the Acts of the Apostles were originally cultivated by the Church and by the throngs of believers but to these they even added things far more lofty. . . they went off to quite secluded places on the outskirts of the city and led a strict life of such rigorous abstinence that even those who did not share their religion were astonished at the arduous profession of their way of life.

For day and night they gave themselves over to the reading of Holy Scripture, to prayer, and to manual labor with such fervor that the very appetite for and memory of food only disturbed them every second or third day, when their bodies felt hunger, and they would take food and drink not so much out of desire as out of necessity.

Indeed, they would not do this before sunset, so as to link the daytime with the pursuit of spiritual meditation but the care of the body with the night. And other things they did that were far more lofty than these. . .’

St. John Cassian

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