August 7, 2010

Saint Or, the Hermit of Thebaid

Saint Or, the Hermit of Thebaid (Feast Day - August 7)

Our Venerable Father Or in his youth withdrew into the Thebaid desert and struggled in complete solitude for many years, leading the life of a strict hermit. Having advanced in years, Or was granted to see an angel, who announced that the Lord had destined him for the salvation of the many people who would seek his guidance.

After this, the monk began to accept everyone who came to him for advice and help. The Lord granted him a gift of reading the Holy Scriptures, despite the fact that the saint since childhood had not been taught reading and writing.

Or attained great perfection through the greatest mortification. When he firmly established himself and attained holiness in solitude, he then gradually established several monasteries and was a superb spiritual leader and teacher of many monks.

The monk never entered the trapeza for food, nor did he eat on the day of partaking of the Holy Mysteries. He often taught the brethren by means of stories about the temptations which might beset a monk living in solitude. But he always told them in such a way that everyone would know that he was speaking of desert-dwellers personally known to him. The saint concealed his own ascetic exploits.

Rufinus, who visited him describes Or in the following way: "He resembled an angel of God; a ninety-year old elder with a long beard, as white as snow; externally was very pleasant. His gaze shone with something super human."

Often times, he saw the angels of God. He especially endeavored never to speak an untruth. He had great temptations from the demons but overpowered them all soberly and courageously. He received Holy Communion daily.

On one occasion, one of his disciples reminded him that the Feast of the Resurrection had come and that it should be celebrated. Hearing this, Or came out, raised his hands to heaven and spent three days in prayer without rest. He explained to his disciple: "For the monk, this is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ: to elevate his mind and to unite it with God."

All the thoughts and deeds of his disciples was revealed to St. Or, and no one dared to lie to him. Having survived well into old age, Saint Or founded several monasteries, comprising altogether as many as 1,000 monastics. He died at age 90 in about the year 390.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

To the monks, honor; to the monk's glory,
Head of the monks, Or, the all-wise Abba,
With great labor, with many sighs,
Of a true monk, reached perfection.

Teach us a lesson, they once pleaded to him!
"Never tell a lie, speak the truth.
I know a man, who never swore,
Never lied, never wished evil to another."
Then the elder after his reply, remained silent.

Then holy Sisoes asked of Or:
Tell me father some instruction.
"Live," Or said to him, "as you see me!"
Tell me more clearly, how should I see you.
Everyman, a secret within himself conceals?
Again Or said to him: "Behold, to you I am speaking:
Of all God's things, myself I consider the worse."

Paul, the disciple, Or taught thusly:
"For from every sin you will easily flee
But only from evil conversation, if you flee,
For from this evil, every other sin sprouts
To the soul of a man, evil conversation is death,
Every good seed in the heart, it smothers.
One more thing will I say and let it be enough,
The thoughts of vanity, drive away; insane desires, drive away,
From that which is material, distance yourself,
And son, the spiritual you will attain."