By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
There is heroism above heroism and asceticism above asceticism. St. Epiphanius of Cyprus invited Hilarion the Great to dinner and in order to show the greatest hospitality to his distinguished guest, placed fried chicken on the table and offered it to him. Hilarion said to him: "Forgive me, but ever since I was tonsured a monk, I have eaten nothing butchered." To that Epiphanius replied: "And I, ever since I was tonsured a monk, have never lay down in bed until I first forgave my enemy." Amazed, Hilarion said: "Your virtue is greater than mine, O holy master!" This is a great lesson for all of us. Fasting is an admirable thing but it is more admirable to forgive insults. Through fasting, man is preparing for charity but, by forgiving insults, man shows charity. Fasting precedes forgiveness but fasting alone, does not save without forgiveness.