MAR SABA. l$l
the Syrian troubles in 1834, and was subsequently repaired by Russia. The convent is
considered by the Greeks almost a penal one, and scandal says that all its inmates except
the superiors have been sent hither for heresy or other offences. Of heresy certainly they
must be acquitted, so far as their knowledge goes, for they are profoundly ignorant, and
whatever their other offences may have been, they are unwearied in their devotions. Every
monk has to attend the services seven times in the twenty-four hours, from 4 a.m. to midnio-ht.
Only one-third of the sixty brethren are in holy orders, and many of the lay brethren are unable
to read. They are from Turkey, Greece, the Archipelago, and a few Russians ; but modern
Greek is the language of daily intercourse, and few understand Arabic. All are under a vow
never to taste fresh meat, and their diet is both meagre and stinted in quantity. Eggs are
permitted on Sundays only. On other days the allowance is a small brown loaf, a dish of
cabbage broth, a plate of olives, an onion, half an orange, a quarter of a lemon, six figs, and
half-a-pint of wine apiece. A little raki or spirits is also permitted. There is all the difference
between the monks of the Greek and Roman rites in Palestine that characterizes the political
and religious position of the two churches, and nowhere is the contrast more clearly illustrated
than at Mar Saba and Carmel. The one is always aggressive, the other on the defensive. In
everything Greek there seems embodied a cold dead conservatism, tenacious it knows not
why, and looking on every concession or relaxation of a rule as a confession of weakness.
Thus, though the rule of the Carmelite may be as stringent as that of St. Saba, there is no
fear of the former being enforced to the injury of health or the disadvantage of the order.
" Reculer pour mieux sauter," is the motto of Rome in small things as well as in great. She
has shown this in her management of the Maronites and the Greek Catholics, lost to
Constantinople through obstinate mismanagement. The marriage of the priests., the use of
the Syrian language, the liturgy of St. James, a different calendar of saints, all have been
conceded, since union could be had on no other terms. The Greek never dreams of enlarging
his fold, nor of concessions which mieht retain the waverers; in matters ecclesiastical all the
proverbial astuteness of the Hellenic race seems to desert him. A monastic life is chosen, as
one of the monks here told us, for the sake of peace and of eating the bread of idleness,
and there is no training for their vow, nor any thought of applying this life of the religious to
the advantage of the Church. Thus while every Latin monastery in Syria is the centre of an
aggressive mission, the Eastern Church does not even adapt her battalions of celibates to
man her defensive works. Ages of Moslem oppression and the dense ignorance of the local
priesthood have done their work; and while the truth has been obscured and the written
Word of God forgotten, she seems to have lost even the desire to discover or understand it.
These poor monks have but one amusement, and that is the feeding and cultivating the
various wild birds and animals of the glen. In this they have been marvellously successful.
I watched a pet wolf, which came every evening, as the bell tolled six, to the fort of the
monastery for his ration of bread dipped in oil, which a friendly monk regularly dropped to
him over the wall. The wolf was jealous of his privilege, and chased back several others