The Monkey

Christians must arm themselves against the seductions of this world. They must be armed against every attack and every temptation, so that every evil is repelled by them. Such armor is not made in a day or two, but is diligently and laboriously forged by a lengthy process. Of what value is all our virtue if we succumb to the first temptation? Speaking of this, Saint Gregory of Nyssa cites the example of a monkey in Alexandria. He says: “An animal trainer in Alexandria taught a monkey to skillfully impersonate a female dancer on stage. The spectators at the theatre praised the monkey, which was dressed as a female dancer and danced to the beat of the music. But while the viewers were occupied observing such a novel spectacle, some comedian decided to show everyone that a monkey is nothing more than a monkey. While they all shouted and applauded at the skill of the monkey, the comedian threw some sweets onto the stage that monkeys particularly like. As soon as the monkey saw the sweets, it forgot the dance, the applause, and the elaborate costume, and dashed around, groping with its paws for the sweets; and since its dress interfered, it began to tear it apart with its nails, attempting to remove it. And in place of praise and amazement, laughter broke out among the spectators.” For behind the torn mask of the “dancer,” a monkey was revealed. The Prologue of Ochrid, July 14

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