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St. John and his partridge


St. John, who was the Bishop of Ephesus, had a tame partridge with which he often amused himself in his hours of recreation. One day a stranger came who was armed with a bow and arrows. He had journeyed a long distance to see the bishop. At the moment he arrived, he found St. John playing with his pet, allowing it to perch on his hand, his shoulder, or his head. The stranger seemed very much surprised that a man who, as he thought, ought to be occupied exclusively with spiritual matters, should spend his time playing with a bird. He ventured to express his astonishment to the bishop. In answer, St. John put a question to him, asking why he had unstrung his bow? The man replied: “Because if it was kept strung, it would lose its force.” “The same principle,” St. John said, “holds true in regard to us mortal men, when we have much work and many cares. In order not to sink under the weight a man must relax his mind with some innocent amusement.” Thus it will be seen that recreation is not merely allowable, but necessary, and the day ever so holy, innocent recreation is not inconsistent with one’s duty to God.

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