Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saint Eulogios the Hospitable, Who Was a Stonecutter

St. Eulogios the Hospitable (Feast Day - April 27);
Photo depicts stonecutters in Ancient Rome.

Verses

Eulogios the host of strangers,
You are hosted by Abraham the host of God.

In the Life of Abba Daniel of Scetis (June 7), we read the following of Eulogios the Stonecutter, who was known as Eulogios the Hospitable for his virtue of hospitality:

Abba Daniel, the priest of Scetis, was across from the Thebaid, having with him one of his disciples, and they left, sailing down the river. After setting sail, they came to a farm to which the old man had directed the sailors and the old man said, “We will stay here today.” His disciple began to grumble and say, “How long are we going to waste our time here? Let’s go on to Scetis.” The old man said, “No, we’ll stay here today.”

There were foreigners in the village center and the brother said to the old man, “Does it please God for us to sit like brothers with them? Let’s at least go to the martyrion,” and the old man said, “No, I’m staying here,” and they remained there, staying until late in the evening. The brother began to fight with the old man, saying, “On account of you I’m going to die.” While they were talking, an elderly lay person came, a large man, completely gray-headed, very old, advanced in years, holding a fishing-basket. When he saw Abba Daniel, he clasped hold of him and began to kiss his feet and weep. He also greeted the disciple and said to them, “I am at your disposal.”

He would also raise up a torch and go through the streets of the village, looking for foreigners. Taking the old man and his disciple and the other foreigners that he found, he went home, and putting water into the basin, he washed the feet of the disciples and of the old man. He had no other property of his own in his house, or in any other place, only God alone. He set the table for them and after they ate he took the leftovers and threw them to the dogs in the village. It was his custom to do this, and from evening until morning he would not allow a single crumb to remain in the house. The old man took him aside and they sat until nearly dawn, with many tears talking about the things that lead to salvation. Early in the morning, they kissed one another and the old man and his disciple departed.

While they were on the road, the disciple asked the old man’s forgiveness, saying, “Please, father, tell me who that old man was and where you know him from,” but the old man refused to speak to him. Again the brother asked for forgiveness, saying, “You’ve confided many other things to me, and now you won’t confide in me about this old man?” But the old man refused to confide in him about the old man so that as a result the brother was saddened and did not speak to the old man until they reached Scetis.

After the brother went to his cell, he did not bring the old man a small meal as was the custom at five p.m. (the old man maintained this practice all the days of his life).178 When evening fell, the old man went to the brother’s cell and said to him, “Why is it, child, that you’ve allowed your father to die of hunger?” The disciple said, “I don’t have a father. If I had a father, he would love his own child!” The old man said, “It’s obvious that you’re not going to serve my meal.” He was taking hold of the door in order to open it and leave when the brother came up and grabbed the old man and began to kiss him, saying to him, “As the Lord lives, I will not let you go if you do not tell me who that old man was!” The brother was unable to see the old man distressed for any reason, for he dearly loved him. Then the old man said to him, “Make me a little something to eat and then I will tell you,” and after the old man had eaten, he said to the brother, “Do not be stiff-necked. I did not tell you on account of what you said when you were in the village. See that you do not repeat what you hear.

“That old man is called ‘Eulogius’; by trade he is a stonecutter. He earns a keration a day from his manual labor, eating nothing until evening, and when evening comes he goes to the village and takes home whatever foreigners he finds and feeds them, and their leftovers he throws to the dogs, as you saw. He’s been a stonecutter by trade since he was a young man up to today; it has been a hundred years and more. God provides him with strength equal to that of a strapping young man, and each day to this very day he works for the same one keration. When I was younger, forty years old, I went up to sell my handiwork at that village and at evening he came and took me and other brothers with me, as was his custom, and gave us lodging.

“When I went there and saw the old man’s virtue, I began to fast every day of the week, entreating God to provide him with greater wages so that he might do good for even more people. After fasting for three weeks, I was half dead on account of my ascetic regimen, and I saw a holy person coming towards me and he said to me, ‘What’s the matter with you, Daniel?’ and I said to him, ‘There’s a reason for the way I look: I’ve given my word to Christ not to eat bread, my master, until he hears my request concerning Eulogius the stonecutter and bestows a blessing on him so that he may do good for even more people.’ He said to me, ‘No, everything is fine as it is,’ and I said to him, ‘No, it’s not. Give him more in order that everyone, on account of him, may praise your holy name.’ He said to me, ‘I myself am telling you that things are fine. If you want me to provide him with more, guarantee that his soul will find salvation through benefitting many, and then I will provide it.’Then I said to him: ‘You may require his soul at my hands.’

“I saw that it was as though I were standing in the Church of the Holy Resurrection and a young man was sitting upon the blessed stone [see Mt 28:2 and parallels] and Eulogius himself was standing at his right. The young man sent near me one of those standing by and he said to me, ‘Are you the one who has pledged himself for Eulogius?’ and I said to him, ‘Yes, master,’ and again he spoke, ‘Tell him that I will demand the pledge,’ and I said, ‘Yes, master, with me as the pledge, only multiply your blessings upon him.’ I then saw two personss emptying a very large amount of money into Eulogius’ lap and Eulogius’ lap was able to hold it, however much the two kept pouring. When I woke up I knew that I had been heard and I gave glory to God.

“When Eulogius came out to do his work, he struck a certain rock, heard a hollow-sounding “thunk,” and found a small hole; again he struck the rock and he found a cave filled with money. Filled with amazement, he said to himself, ‘This money comes from the Israelites! What should I do with it? If I take it to the village, the owner will hear about it and will take it and I’ll be in danger. It would be better if I hid it out in the country where no one knows me.’ Hiring animals as though he were using them to haul stones, at night he hauled the money to the riverside and, completing the good work of hospitality as he was accustomed to do every day, he put the money in a boat and sailed to Byzantium. Justin, the uncle of Justinian, was emperor at that time. Eulogius gave a large amount of money to the emperor and to his nobles and as a result became procurator of the holy praetorian guard. He also bought a large estate and to this day it is called ‘the estate of the Egyptian.’

“Two years later I again saw in a dream that young man in the Church of the Holy Resurrection and I said to myself, ‘Where is Eulogius?’ A little later I saw Eulogius being dragged away from the young man by an Ethiopian. Waking up, I said to myself, ‘God help me, a sinner! What have I done? I have lost my life!’ Taking my shoulder-bag I left for the village in order to sell my handiwork, expecting to come across Eulogius as usual. Late evening came and no one invited me home with him, so I got up and made inquiries of an old woman, saying to her, ‘Surely you, mother, will give me three dried loaves of bread so I may eat; I haven’t eaten today,’ and she said, ‘What about me?’ She went and brought me a little boiled food and gave it to me and began to tell me spiritually beneficial things, saying, ‘Don’t you know that the monastic life requires contemplative quiet?’ and other helpful things. I said to her, ‘What, then, are you telling me to do? I came to sell my handiwork.’ She said to me, ‘If you had wanted to sell your handiwork, you would not have arrived late at the village like you did. If you want to be a monk, go to Scetis.’ I said to her, ‘Really, spare me these instructions. Isn’t there in this village a God-fearing person who goes out and gets the foreigners?’ and she said to me, ‘What are you saying, my good monk? We used to have a stonecutter here and he used to do many things for the foreigners. When God saw his works, he gave him grace, and today he is a patrician.’

“When I heard these things, I said to myself, ‘I committed this murder!’ and I boarded ship and sailed to Byzantium. I asked where I might find ‘the estate of the Egyptian’ and they showed me and I sat in front of the gate until he came. I saw him coming with great ostentation and I called out to him, ‘Have mercy on me! I wish to speak with you in private about some matter!’ but he turned away from me and his escort beat me instead. Once again I touched the escort and repeated what I had said, and once again they beat me. I spent four weeks making my request as custom dictated but was not able to meet with him. Then, a little later, I went and threw myself in front of the gate of the Church of the Mother of God and wept and said, ‘Lord, release me from me the pledge I made for this person or I will go away into the world!’

“While I was trying to understand these events, I fell asleep and suddenly there arose a clamor and they were saying, ‘The Augusta is coming!’ and there came before her thousands upon thousands and ten thousand upon ten thousand ranks, and I cried out and said, ‘Have mercy on me!’ She stopped and said to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’ and I said to her, ‘I pledged myself as surety for Eulogius the procurator. Order him to release me from this pledge.’ She said to me, ‘I don’t have authority in this matter. Fulfill the pledge as you wish.’ When I woke up I said to myself, ‘Even if I have to die, I am not leaving the gate!’ When Eulogius came out, I cried out and the doorkeeper attacked me and gave me a beating until he had broken every bone in my body. Then, discouraged, I said to myself, ‘Let us go to Scetis, and if God wishes he will also save Eulogius.’

“I left to look for a ship and found one bound for Alexandria and boarded it to sail to my cell. I boarded ship alone and sat by myself, feeling discouraged, and once again I saw myself in a dream in the Church of the Holy Resurrection and that young man was sitting upon the holy stone; he turned towards me in a threatening manner so that, afraid of him, I was trembling like a leaf and was unable to open my mouth, for my heart had turned to stone. He said to me, ‘Aren’t you going to go fulfill the pledge?’ and he ordered two of those standing at his side to hang me up with my arms tied behind my back, and he said to me, ‘Do not pledge yourself beyond your ability to do so; do not gainsay God.’ I was unable to open my mouth and remained hanging there.

“Suddenly there was a voice: ‘The Augusta is coming!’ and when I saw her I took courage and said to her in a subdued voice, ‘Have mercy on me, mistress of the world!’ She said to me, ‘What do you want now?’ I said to her, ‘I am hanging here because I pledged myself for Eulogius,’ and she said to me, ‘I am making entreaties on your behalf.’ And I saw her leave to kiss the feet of that young man and the young man said to me, ‘Do not do this any longer.’ I said, ‘No, master, I won’t. I had asked in order to be of service but I have sinned. Forgive me.’ He gave the order and they released me, and he said to me, ‘Go to your cell, and I will return Eulogius to his former way of life. Do not be anxious.’ When I awoke from sleep, I was suddenly deliriously happy, having been set free from such an onerous pledge, and I set sail, giving thanks to God.

“Three months later, I heard that Emperor Justin had died and Justinian was now emperor, and Hypatius and Dexikratius and Pompeius and Eulogius the procrator rose up against him. The first three were killed and all their possessions were confiscated, as was Eulogius’ estate. Eulogius fled Constantinople at night and the emperor ordered that he was to be killed wherever he was found. Then he went and fled to his own village and exchanged his clothing for that of the country folk who lived there. The whole village gathered to see him and they said to him, ‘We heard that you had become a patrician,’ and he said, ‘Indeed. If I had become a patrician, you would be coming to me with petitions. No, that was another Eulogius, who is also from here, for I was in the Holy Land.’

“And he came to his senses and said, ‘Wretched Eulogius, get up, take your stonecutting tools and you too go, before you also lose your head. There is no royal court here!’Taking his stonecutting tools, he went out to the rock where the money had been and, striking it for six hours, did not find anything, and he began to remember the foods and the attendants and the treachery that took place and once again said to himself, ‘Get yourself up; you’re in Egypt now.’ Little by little the holy young man and the Queen Mother of God brought him to his former way of life, for it would be unjust of God to forget his previous labors.

“A little after this I went up to the village and when evening fell he came and took me, as was his custom. and just seeing him made me groan and weep, saying, ‘How exalted your deeds are, Lord! You have done everything with wisdom [Ps 104:24]. What god is as great as our God, who raises up the poor from the earth and lifts up the laborer from the dung heap [Ps 113:7]? He humbles and exalts [Ps 75:7]. Who is able to search out your marvellous deeds, Lord and Master? [Ps 89:6] When I, a sinner, attempted it, my soul dwelt for a little while in Hades’ [Ps 94:7]. Taking water, he bathed my feet in the customary way and set the table, and after we had eaten I said to him, ‘How are you, Abba Eulogius?’ He said to me, ‘Pray for me, abba, for I am a wretched person, having nothing to my name,’ and I said to him, ‘I wish that you had not even had what you had!’ He said to me, ‘Why, lord and abba? What have I ever done to give you offense?’ I said, ‘What haven’t you done to give me offense!’ Then I laid everything out for him. Both of us wept and he said to me, ‘Pray that God summons me in order to set me on the right track from now on.’ I said to him, ‘Truly, child, do not expect to ever be entrusted by the Lord with anything again in this world except for the keration.’ “You see? God has now seen to it all these years that each day he earns the keration. Look, now I’ve told you where I know him from. Do not repeat what I have told you to anyone.”

These things Abba Daniel openly told to his disciple after they had sailed up from the Thebaid. Marvellous is God’s loving care for humanity, how he raised up such a person from among the lowly and humbled such a person for his benefit! Therefore let us pray that we too may be humbled by the fear of God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, that with the prayers and entreaties of our Queen and ever-virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and of all the saints, we may find mercy before the terrible judgement seat. Amen.



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