5 pagoumé 2014
The Ethiopian Synaxarium
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD. AMEN.
On this day died the pure and holy virgin, Abba Jacob, Bishop of the city of Mesr (Cairo). The soul’s desire of this fighter from his youth up was to wear the holy garb of the monastic life, which is the apparel of the angels. And he went forth from his city, and departed to the desert of Scete, that is to say, to the monastery of Saint Abba Macarius, and he took up his abode in a cave close by Saint Abba John the Short; and he devoted himself to God and fought the spiritual fight for many years, and he was appointed Archdeacon of the church of Saint John. And the report of his virtues, and his knowledge, and his sanctity was noised about, and God chose him, and he was appointed Bishop of the city of Mesr (Cairo). And having taken his seat upon the throne of his office, he added to his fasting, and prayer, and asceticism, and fighting of the spiritual fight, and he did not diminish through [the duties of] his office his former fight. He taught his people continually, and he read the Scriptures to them, and he explained the obscure passages in them, and he admonished them for continuing to commit sin; and he excommunicated them and repelled them from receiving the Holy Mysteries until they repented. And when he had finished his good fight, he fell sick of a slight illness, and he summoned his flock and taught them to hold fast the True Faith. And he summoned the priests and commanded them, saying, “Take heed that ye be not negligent at the time of celebrating the Mysteries,” and he made them to know that they would deserve great punishment if they were negligent about the celebration of the Holy and Divine Mysteries, and if they did not minister in holiness, and in the fear of God. And he said unto them, “I am innocent of your sins.” And then he made the sign of the Cross over his face and eyes, and stretched out his hands, and made the sign of the Cross, and he covered his eyes with his hands and died in peace. And they wrapped him in a beautiful shroud, which was worthy of bishops, and they made a great lamentation over him, and they buried him in the tomb of the fathers, the Bishops. Salutation to Jacob, Bishop of Mesr (Cairo).
And on this day also died the great Prophet Amos, the father of Isaiah the prophet, one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. This righteous man prophesied in the days of the kings of Israel, Joash, Amos, and Uzziah; and all the days of his prophesying were fifty years and more. And he admonished the children of Israel and their kings, and the kings of Judah, and he told them that God would not accept over many offerings, nor the things which they did not offer up to Him in the days of Moses the prophet. And he prophesied concerning the Passion of our Lord, and concerning the darkness of the sun on that day, and concerning the lamentation and sorrow which should come upon the children of Israel after this; and how their festivals should be turned into [days of] sorrow, and their joy into weeping; and how they should lack the help of God; and how they should be scattered in all countries among the nations; and how they should be driven about like spelt. And all these things were fulfilled upon them, for they dwell [scattered] in the world unto this day. And it is said that the people killed him when he rebuked them overmuch for their sins. And he prophesied before the coming of our Lord Christ six hundred years before the coming of our Lord. Salutation to Amos the prophet.
And on this day also died the holy, and blessed, and chaste Abba Barsuma, the “Naked,” the son of Taban. This saint had God-fearing parents in the city of Mesr (Cairo), and they entreated pilgrims kindly and walked in the way of God; and they were exceedingly rich in gold and silver, and they had many possessions. And when they got this blessed son they called his name “Barsuman,” and brought him up in the fear of the Lord, and taught him the Doctrine of the Books of the Church. And when his parents finished their days at a good old age, and died in peace, the brother of the mother of this saint took all the money, which Barsuman’s parents had left. And when this Saint Abba Barsuma (sic) saw how he had seized his parents’ money, he meditated in his heart about this fleeting world, and said, “Our Redeemer saith in His holy Gospel, ‘He who wisheth to save his soul, let him cast it away, and he who hath cast away his soul for My sake shall find it. What shall it profit a man if he hath gained the whole world, and destroyed his soul? And what shall a man give [as] a ransom for his soul? Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son of the children of men shall come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels, and shall reward each one according to his works (Mark vii, 35 f.).’” And the saint went outside the city, and did as Job the Just did, and sat upon a dust heap for five years, in the heat of summer and the cold of winter, and he wore no clothing on his body, but went naked; and his loincloth was made of hairy sackcloth. And he said unto his soul, “O Barsuma, know thou that thou must stand naked before God.” And he devoted himself frequently to fasting, and prayer, and bowings, and vigil, by night and by day, for seven days at a time ceaselessly. And he ate [nothing but] dry bread soaked in water, and at length his body dried up, and his skin stretched itself tightly over his bones. And then he said unto himself, “I will rise up and will depart from this place, so that men may not know me, and award to me the vain praise of this world.” And he departed from that place, and came to the church of Saint Mercurius in Mesr (Cairo), and he dwelt therein and fasted for three and thirty years. And there was a serpent in a well, which was in that church, and men were unable to light the lamp through fear of that snake. And God willed to make manifest the righteousness of this righteous man, Abba Barsuma, and to make signs and wonders to appear at his hands. And the saint went into that cave, and stood up and prayed to God, saying, “O my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who hath given unto us power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and all the might of the Enemy, I ask Thee now to make me strong over this serpent which is in this cave, for Thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Then he sealed himself with the sign of the Honorable Cross, and he sang the psalm, saying, “Thou shalt be strong against the wolf and the serpent, thou shalt tread upon the lion and the serpent” (Psalm 91:13), and having finished his singing, he seized the serpent with his hand, and said unto it, “Henceforth be blessed! And thou shalt not have power and might over any man, and thou shalt do no evil whatsoever to any man, but thou shalt be subject and obedient to what I shall say unto thee.” And straightway that serpent coiled itself at the feet of this saint, even as the lions crouched before Daniel the prophet in days of old. And this saint fought a great fight against hunger and thirst, and he used to fast two and three days at a time, and after this he fasted for a whole week, without cessation or negligence. And the light shone upon him, and when he stood up to pray the serpent would go away from him, and when he sat down and called the serpent it would come to him. And there was a spring of water in that place wherefrom water flowed unceasingly in the winter season, and in the period of cold, and he used to stand up [in it] from sunset to sunrise, continually; and he used to eat dry bread, and food which had gone bad, and was full of worms, and had been thrown away, and he drank dirty water. And in those days there took place a period of great persecution of the Christian people in the country of Egypt. And he passed all his time in reading the Books of the Church, and especially the Psalms of David, and the histories of the ascetic labors of the fathers and the stories of their abstinence. And because of this he loved the life of abstinence and purity, and he spoke to men profitable words, saying, “Without purity no man can see the kingdom of God by day and by night for seven days, and God received his petition, and he taught the people Christianity. And God performed many signs and miracles by his hands, and on many occasions made manifest to men his extraordinary spiritual fight. His presence was handsome, and he was of fine appearance, and his face was joyful; he rejoiced in being without a bed, and he possessed nothing whatsoever of this world’s goods. He wore a tunic only, but he was [otherwise] naked, and his head was uncovered and he covered his body with apparel, which was in rags. And he endured the heat of summer and the cold of winter, and he laid no bed between his body and the ground, and he fought the fight that he might reach the Heavenly Garden. And he found trouble through evil men and devils; who is able to explain it? And in spite of this he gave thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ who helped him in this difficult work. And whilst following this course men heard of the glorious report of him, and everywhere men loved him. He was the comforter of the old men, and of those who were in trouble and misery, and of him that had been tripped up by the enmity [of Satan], and of him whom the temptation of the Enemy or of an evil man had found; such an one used to seek and find with him healing. And having spent thirty years in his spiritual fight, and pleased God, he died in peace on the fifth day of the month of Paguemen in the one thousand and thirty-third year of the Martyrs (A.D. 1317). And after his death John the priest, his disciple, thought in his soul and said, “Who is there that shall comfort men after our father Barsuma?” “Abba Barsuma had knowledge through the Holy Ghost,” saith his disciple. And he answered saying with his holy mouth, “Know, O my brother John, I am far from all those who call me by my name, and unto all who say unto me, ‘Abba Barsuma, the son of Taban, ‘ I say, ‘Behold I will fulfill for him everything which he wisheth with our Lord Jesus Christ.’” And then this holy father looked towards his left hand and said, “Behold, they have made the reckoning about us, and they have not found against us any evil thing.” And after this he said unto his disciple Abraham, “Give me a knife or a razor,” and he cut off his tongue therewith, and cast it away, and he began to sing, saying, “The Lord illumineth me, and delivereth me, who then shall make me afraid?” (Psalm xxvii, 1)--to the end [of the Psalm]. And he sealed his face with the sign of the Honorable Cross, and delivered his soul into the hand of God, and the angels of light carried it up to the Garden of Joy. And he departed to God, Whom he loved, and he dwelt with the righteous in the Garden of Delight in the kingdom of the heavens. And the monks wrapped him up in pure white woolen cloths, and they took him and laid him in the church. And Abba John, the eightieth Archbishop of the city of Alexandria, came, together with priests, and deacons, and the nobles of the city of Mesr (Cairo), and a great many Christian folk, and they made a procession in his honor with singing and instruments of music, and they buried him; and they made great mourning for him many days. Salutation to Abba Barsuma.
And on this day also died Abba Magder. Salutation to Magder. Glory be to God Who is glorified in His Saints. Amen.