|St. Paul the Obedient (Feast Day - December 7)|
Paul hastened to escape the notice of all,
Instead he shined with light that went every direction.
Our Holy Father Paul was neither glorious nor wealthy in worldly things, but poor. Instead his parents lived with sufficient goods in this present life. He was also educated in sacred letters. When he became of age, it appeared to his advantage to forsake the world and enter a monastery in his homeland. Therefore he was garbed with the divine and angelic schema of monastics, and struggled to obtain all the virtues. And in this he exceeded to such an extent the monks there, that he became a bearer of the Holy Spirit. This was revealed to the brethren when he did an extraordinary thing, since he had in his soul a great and high thing working within him.
One day, he and other brethren were distilling pitch in a copper vat. He then noticed that the pitch swelled and boiled and was spilling over the rim of the tub. However, he did not have a stick or rod to stir the surging pitch that he might prevent further spillage. Therefore, the great one exposed his arm and dipped it into the vat of boiling pitch, which he stirred and kept it from spilling over. When he removed his arm it was whole and unharmed, without the least trace of alteration or being blackened by the pitch, nor did anything appear on the surface of the skin. When the brethren there with him beheld this miracle, they were amazed. And some of them considered him to be a father among the God-bearers, while others did not believe him to be one of them. The thrice-blessed one however called himself earth and ashes and a dirty fool.
One day this Saint was sent on a mission. During his absence, the abbot gathered together the most devout brothers, and they prayed together with much labor for a number of days. They spoke to God with the following words: "Lord, even though we are unworthy, show us the measure of the sanctity of our brother Paul! And to what degree of virtue he has attained!" And the Lord, who does the will of those who fear Him, economized that one night when they were all asleep, for them to be snatched away to a garden with a variety of flowers and trees and full of gladness. Finding themselves in this garden, it became full of such fragrance and gladness, that it is impossible to narrate. In awe over this astonishing vision, there appeared to them the Monk Paul, who bowed down and greeted them. Curious, they asked him, "What is this garden that we see?" They then heard him say with much humility, "This garden, brethren, is God's, and it was made for us. Since on account of me you have made your prayer to God, I also have come as well. Therefore, take from this garden whatever appears to you better and above the rest, and depart in peace. Do send another brother on the mission for which you sent me, for you will not see me again."
They therefore bade farewell to Paul, and each took either a flower or a branch or a fragrant leave or graceful grass. And so they left the garden. Then they all awoke and gathered together, relating to each other what they saw in the garden. And one showed the flower he took from there, while another exhibited a branch. Another stated that he had taken something from the garden, but did not have it to show it. Still another said that after a period of time the scent from the flower he took from the garden with his own hands was still there. The brethren therefore were gladdened and glorified God for the grace granted to His servant Paul.
Meanwhile Paul withdrew from his mission to which he was sent, and he went to Jerusalem. And going around to all the sacred places and venerating them, he went to Cyprus. There he remained on a high mountain for some years. Because many people gathered around him there, so that his fame spread everywhere, he withdrew and went near to Constantinople. Abiding there in a manner pleasing to God, he heard a voice from above like the God-seer Moses, which said, "Ascend the mountain and come to an end." Therefore he ascended a high mountain, which is locally called Paregoros, and he fell down and worshiped God. After living there a short while, he reposed in the Lord.