January 20, 2010

The Teachings of St. Euthymios the Great

St. Euthymios the Great (Feast Day - January 20)

By Cyril of Scythopolis

The great Euthymios was a doctor of souls, training and encouraging each one, and none of the brethren drew back from confessing his thoughts to him. He, with his plentiful experience, taught them to resist every single alien thought, saying, "Brethren, strive for what brought you out here, and do not neglect your own salvation. You must at all times stay sober and awake. As Scripture says, 'Keep awake, and pray not to enter into temptation' (Matt. 26:41). Above all recognize this: those who renounce this life must not have a wish of their own but in the first place acquire humility and obedience. They must always await and ponder the hour of death and the dread day of judgment, fear the threat of eternal fire and desire the glory of the kingdom of heaven."

Again he used to say, "In addition to keeping watch on the thoughts within, monks, especially young ones, ought to practice bodily labor, remembering the words of the Apostle, 'We labor day and night so as not to be a burden on anyone' (1 Thess. 2:9), and 'These hands ministered to me and to those with me' (Acts 20:34). While those in the world endure labor and hardship in order to support wives and children from their work, pay the first-fruits to God, do good according to their power and in addition be charged taxes, it is absurd if we are not even to meet the needs of the body from manual labor but to stay idle and immobile, reaping the toil of others, especially when the Apostle orders the idle not even to eat" (2 Thess. 3:10).

This was the teaching which our father Euthymios enlightened the community.

He also gave instructions that no one was to talk in church during the time of office, nor in the refectory while the brethren were eating. He was also displeased whenever he saw a brother in the cenobium, especially a young one, trying to surpass the community in abstinence. "Correct abstinence," he said, "is to take only just enough at meal-times, while guarding the heart and making secret warfare against hidden passions; the weapons of the monk are meditation, discernment, self-control and godly obedience." This and similar teaching inspired and stimulated the brethren to bear fruit worthy of their calling.

From The Lives of the Monks of Palestine. Cistercian Publications, 1991, pp. 12-13.

See also an article on the Monastery of St. Euthymios titled "Euthymius and His Monastery in the Judean Desert".

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Be glad, O barren one, that hast not given birth; be of good cheer, thou that hast not travailed; for a man of desires hath multiplied thy children of the Spirit, having planted them in piety and reared them in continence to the perfection of the virtues. By his prayers, O Christ our God, make our life peaceful.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Creation found delight and joy in thine august nativity and the good cheer of thy numberless miracles on thy divine memorial. Now bestow thereof richly on our souls and wash clean the stains of our every sin, Euthymios most righteous, that we may chant: Alleluia!