20 tekemet 2012
The Ethiopian Synaxarium
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD. AMEN.
On this day died the great father of light, Abba John the Short. This holy man was a native of the city, which is called Tansa and is in Upper Egypt, and he had one brother. His parents were righteous people, and they feared God; they were not rich in the goods and possessions of this world, but they were rich in good works. When this holy man was eighteen years of age, the grace of God moved him to go to the desert of Scete, which [name] being interpreted means, “Balance of hearts.” And he wished to put on the garb of the monk. And he found a certain tried and strong old man, whose name was Abba Bamoy, of the city of Seha, dwelling in Scete, and Saint John bowed low before him and entreated him that he might dwell with him in Scete. And Saint Abba Bamoy wished to try him, and he said unto him, “O my son, it is not right for thee to live here, for this is a very hard desert, and those who dwell therein have to work with their hands, and they can only feed themselves by hard toil. And also over and above this there are very many fasts to be kept, and many prayers, both by day and by night, to be said, and a man must sleep on the bare ground naked without a bed (or cushion), and there is very great hardship in this desert. Nay, my son, go back into the world and live a life of comfort and ease like unto that of all other men.” And Abba John said unto him, “O my father, for God’s sake do not turn me back for I have come to be under thy authority and under the shadow of thy prayer. And if thou wilt accept me I believe that God will make thy heart will-disposed towards me.” Now Saint Abba Bamoy was wont never to do anything hastily, and he entreated God concerning Abba John so that He might reveal to him His works. And the angel of the Lord appeared and said unto him, “God saith unto thee; accept this brother, for he shall
become a chosen vessel.” And when Abba Bamoy heard these words from the angel of God, he brought Abba John into the church, and he shaved off the hair of his head. Then he laid out the garb of the monk, and he stood and prayed over it for three days and three nights. Then the angel of the Lord appeared, and made the sign of the Cross over the raiment of monkhood, and Abba Bamoy put it upon Abba John. And Abba John devoted himself with the greatest zeal and diligence to the splendid works of the ascetic life. One day Abba Bamoy wished to try him, and he sent Abba John away from him, saying, “I cannot live with thee”; and Abba John stood for seven days outside the gates of the monastery, and every day Abba Bamoy went out to Abba John, and smote him with a stick, and Abba John bowed down before him and said, “Forgive me, O my father.” On the seventh day the old man Abba Bamoy went forth to go to the church, and he saw seven angels, and they had with them seven crowns which they were placing on the head of Abba John. And straightway Abba Bamoy took Abba John and brought him into his cell, and from that day onward he was held by him in honor and reverence. One day Abba Bamoy found a piece of dry wood and he gave it to Abba John and he said unto him, “Take this wood and plant it in the ground, and water it until it sprouteth and bringeth forth fruit.” And Abba John obeyed Abba Bamoy, and he took that piece of wood, and planted it, and watered it each day twice; now the water was far off, a distance of twelve stadia. And after three years that piece of wood sprouted, and grew into a large tree, and bore fruit, and the old man Abba Bamoy took some of the fruit thereof and carried it to all the aged monks, and he said unto them, “Take ye and eat of the fruit of obedience and humility.” When the monks saw this miracle they marveled exceedingly, and they praised God Who gives this virtue unto those who make themselves subject to His teachers. And Abba Bamoy fill sick of a very severe sickness, and he continued to suffer from this sickness for eighteen years, and though Abba John ministered unto him [all this time] he never once said unto him, “Thou hast done well,” for the old man Abba Bamoy had grown very old, and he used to try him exceedingly. And God tried him with such a severe sickness until at length he became like a piece of dry wood, so that he might become a chosen offering unto God. When Abba Bamoy was about to die, he gathered together the aged monks, and he seized the hand of Abba John and gave it unto them, saying, “Take him, and take care of this man, for he is an angel and not a man.” Then he said unto Abba John, “After I am dead I will live in the place wherein thou didst plant the tree which sprouted and bore fruit, for thou in that place didst become a holy and acceptable sacrifice before God. And many men shall be saved by thy hand, and thy memorial shall be there in that place before God for ever.” When Abba Bamoy had said this unto him, he opened his mouth and delivered up his soul into the hand of God. After this Abba John departed to that place [where the tree was] according as the old man Abba Bamoy had told him. And he strove boldly in the working of righteousness, for his name was exalted exceedingly; and after this he was appointed abbot over his church. And whilst the archbishop was laying his hand upon him at the time of his appointment, a voice came from heaven, and all the people heard it, saying, “Axios, Axios, Axios,” that is to say, “He is worthy, He is worthy, He is worthy.” And every time when Saint John consecrated the Offering, he would watch for those who were worthy to partake and those who were not worthy. Now Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, built a church to the Three Holy Children in the city of Alexandria, and he wished to bring thereto the bodies of the Three Children from the city of Babylon. And he asked Saint Abba John to go to the city of Babylon, and to bring the bodies of the Three Children from the city of Babylon, and after many requests Abba John went forth on behalf of the archbishop. And a cloud straightway carried him away and brought him to
the city of Babylon, and he saw that city, and the rivers and the palaces thereof, and he saw the bodies of the Saints, the Three Children, and the body of King Nebuchadnezzar lying in their tombs. And Saint Abba John bowed low, and embraced the bodies of the saints with tears, and he cried out saying, “O my holy fathers, bless me!” And straightway he heard a voice from their bodies, saying, “The God of Israel hath blessed thee.” When Abba John had heard this voice he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and rejoiced in the spiritual blessing. And he said unto them (i.e., the bodies), “O my fathers, ye martyrs of Christ God, I tell you that our father the archbishop, Abba Theophilus, has built a church in your names in the city of Alexandria, and he hath sent me unto you and he beseeches you and your holy bodies to come and dwell in your church, so that there may be healing and salvation unto all those who believe in Christ in all the country of Egypt.” And the saints answered with one voice and said unto him, “God shall give thee the reward of thy labor in the life everlasting! But tell the archbishops that God hath commanded [us] not to remove our bodies from this place until the day of the Resurrection. Nevertheless because of his contendings, and his labor, and his perfect faith, let them suspend lamps, on the night of the day of the consecration of the church, whilst all the people and the priests are assembled therein, and we ourselves will come and we will make manifest the power of God and their blessing.” And Saint Abba John bowed low, and went forth from their presence rejoicing in God. When he had departed a short distance from them, a cloud took him up and brought him to the outskirts of the city of Alexandria, and he came in to the archbishop and told him what the saints had said; and the archbishop did even as the saints had told him. And when midnight had come on the night of the day of the consecration of the church, the Three Holy Children appeared in the church surrounded by brilliant light, and they lighted all the lamps, and they sent forth from themselves an exceedingly sweet odor. After this Abba John returned to Scete, and he contended in the working of righteousness by night and by day. One day a certain monk came into the cave of Abba John, and he found him lying down, and the angels of God were waving their wings over him, and each of them was saying to the other, “Let me lay my wing upon him.” After this the pagan Barbarians came to the desert of Scete to plunder the houses of the monks, and to slay the monks. After this Saint Abba John went to the monastery of Saint Abba Anthony in the desert of Kuelzem [by the Red Sea], not that he was afraid of death, but he said, “I go that a pagan may not come and kill me, and go to Sheol because of me; I do not wish to be in a state of ease and for that pagan to suffer punishment on my account. For he might testify against me before the Lord God, though he is my brother in nature, and form, and likeness.” And Abba John dwelt by the side of a village, and God brought him from it a certain man who was a believer, and he ministered unto him until the time of his death. When God wished to give him rest from the labor of this world, He sent unto him His righteous saints, Abba Anthony, and Abba Macarius, and Abba Pachomius, to comfort him and to inform him concerning his departure, and there was with them Abba Bamoy, his spiritual father. And they comforted him and said unto him, “Be strong in the Lord, and rejoice in the everlasting joy which God hath prepared. Be thou ready, for we will come to thee at dawn on the First Day of the week, and we will take thee with us into everlasting life, even as God hath commanded”; and they blessed him and disappeared. On the day of the Eve of the Sabbath Saint Abba John sent his attendant to the village, for he was sick with a little sickness. And when it was the time of cock-crow on the night of the holy First Day of the week, behold there came unto him many hosts of angels, and all the company of the saints, and when he saw them he rejoiced and bowed low and delivered up his soul into the hand of God. And the holy angels received the soul of the blessed Abba John, and they
took it up with them into heaven. And at that moment his attendant came, and he saw his soul as they were carrying it up into heaven, and the holy angels were surrounding it, and were singing before it. And before all these, as it was shining brightly like the sun, one sang and praised the blessed man Abba John. And he stood still for the space of an hour as he marveled at what he saw. And straightway the angel of the Lord came unto him and told him the names of each one of the saints, and pointing with his finger at the saints he said unto [the attendant of] Abba John, “This is Abba Pachomius, this is Abba Macarius, this is Abba Bamoy, and this is Abba So-and-so.” And the attendant said unto the angel, “Who is this in front of them who is shining like the sun?” And the angel said unto him, “This is Abba Anthony, the father of all the monks.” When the attendant came to the cell he found Abba John on his knees, and he wept over him with a great weeping. And he made haste and went to the village, and told the men how that the saint was dead. Then the brethren came and made him ready for burial, and they bore away his body with great honor, and when they had brought him into the village, great wonders and miracles happened through his body. And then his sons, the monks, came and took up his body and they carried it to the desert of Scete and laid it in the church thereof, and it became a haven for everyone who took refuge therein. Salutation to Abba John.
And on this day also died Saint Elisa the prophet, whose name being interpreted is “Savior, protector and king.” This holy man was native of a village the name of which was Be’Elamon, of the tribe of Isaachar, and he prophesied many prophecies concerning the children of Israel. And he also prophesied saying, “God shall come down upon the earth and shall walk with men.” And he gave a sign of this, saying, “The sun shall set in Selom (Silo), and one of its two halves shall be separated from the other, and twelve oak trees shall be useful to the Lord, and submissive to the holy God, Who shall come down upon the earth, and by it the whole earth shall be saved.” When he finished his prophecy he died in peace and was buried in his own land. Salutation to Elisa the prophet who made the bitter water sweet and raised the axe out of the water by means of a splinter of wood.
Glory be to God Who is glorified in His Saints. Amen.
The Building up of the church in the name of our Holy virgin Mariam (ሕንፀተ ቤተ ክርስቲያን)