October 29, 2010

Saint Abramius the Recluse and His Niece, Blessed Mary

Sts. Abramios and Maria (Feast Day - October 29)

                                                                By St. Dimitri of Rostov

The blessed Abramius was the son of pious parents, and from his youth he frequently attended God’s holy churches. There he gladly hearkened to the reading of the divine Scriptures. His parents, who loved him greatly, sought to compel him to marry although this was not his desire. They repeatedly enjoined him to take a wife, and at length he was forced to submit to their will. But seven days after his wedding, as he sat in his room with his bride, the grace of God suddenly shone in his heart like light, and he arose and left his house without saying anything to anyone. Guided by God, he left the city where he lived and took up his abode in an abandoned hut about half a mile away. He settled there with a joyful heart, glorifying God and intent on laboring for his salvation.

Now Abramius’ parents and relatives were grieved by his disappearance, and they searched for the blessed one everywhere. Seventeen days after he had departed, they found him in his cell, praying to God. They were amazed by what he had done, but the blessed one said to them, "Do not marvel at this, but give glory to God, Who loves mankind, for it was He Who delivered me from the vain world. Entreat the Lord for me that He grant me to bear His light yoke to the end, and trouble me no more. Because of my love for God, I wish to live here in silence and to fulfill the Lord’s holy will."

When his parents saw that Abramius was not to be dissuaded, they said the amen. The blessed one again besought them not to disturb him with their visits, and then sealed up the door leaving open only a little window, through which food could be passed to him.

The blessed Abramius resumed his labors for God, Who enlightened the saint’s mind with His grace. Abramius achieved perfection in the eremetic life and lived in great abstinence, pursuing the virtues of humility, chastity, and love. Word of his sanctity spread everywhere, and those who heard of it began to come to see him and to be profited, for he had received the gift of speaking wisely and consoling the hearts of others.

Ten years after the blessed Abramius forsook the world, his parents died, bequeathing him numerous possessions. Since he did not wish to leave his prayer and solitude, he requested a close friend to distribute his entire inheritance to the poor. He thus remained free from cares, for the blessed one’s whole desire was to prevent his mind from clinging to anything earthly. Therefore, he had no possessions except a single garment, a hair shirt, a bowl from which he ate and drank, and the mat upon which he slept. Throughout the fifty years he struggled in the monastic life, he never altered his rule, continually laboring for God with love and fervor.

One of the villages that lay near the city where Abramius had lived was very large, and its inhabitants were all heathen, from the least to the greatest. Until that time no one had succeeded in turning them to God. Many priests and deacons had been sent by the Bishop of that region to convert the inhabitants of the village from the deception of idolatry, but not one could endure the afflictions they suffered at the hands of the pagans. Numerous monks likewise strove repeatedly to win the people of that village away from their error, but as they had no success, they departed from their midst. One day, as the Bishop was sitting with his clergy, he brought to mind the blessed Abramius and said, "In all my life I have not met a man who has attained such perfection in every good and God-pleasing work as has our lord Abramius."

The clergy replied, "Yes, master, he is truly God’s servant and a perfect monk."

The Bishop said to them, "I wish to make him a priest for that village of pagans. Perhaps by his love and patience their hearts will be inclined toward him, and they will turn to God."

The Bishop and his clergy departed forthwith and went to the blessed one. After they had arrived and greeted the saint, the Bishop began to tell Abramius of the pagan village, beseeching him to go there. When Abramius heard this, however, he became very sorrowful and said to the Bishop, "Forgive me, holy Father! Leave me in peace to weep for my sins, for I am a weak man and unfit for the task you wish to lay upon me."

The Bishop replied, "The grace of God will enable you to succeed in this undertaking. Do not shirk this good obedience."

"I entreat Your Holiness: leave me, the wretch, to bewail my iniquities," said the blessed one.

The Bishop answered, "You have forsaken the world and despise all that is in the world, have crucified yourself to the flesh, and have acquired every virtue, but you have not learned obedience."

When Abramius heard this, he wept bitterly and said, "I am but a stinking dog. Of what use is my life, if you think of me thus?"

The Bishop said, "You sit here alone and save yourself, but in the village you will turn many to the Lord and salvation, with the help of God’s grace. Consider, therefore, which of the two will bring you a greater reward: to save yourself alone or to save many."

Weeping, the blessed one said, "May the will of God be done! In obedience, I go."

The Bishop led Abramius forth from his cell to the city, where he ordained him. Then he sent him with other clergymen to the pagan village. Along the way, the blessed one prayed to God, saying, "0 Good One, Who lovest mankind, Thou seest my weakness. Do Thou send Thy grace unto mine aid, that Thy most holy name may be glorified!"

When he reached the village and saw how the people served the idols and were held fast by demonic delusion, Abramius groaned and wept. Lifting up his eyes unto heaven, he said, "0 God, Who alone art without sin, disdain not the works of Thy hands!"

Abramius then sent word to his dear friend to whom he had entrusted the task of distributing his inheritance to the poor and instructed him to send him a portion of the money which yet remained, that he might use it to build a church. The blessed one quickly began the construction of God’s temple, and within a short time a magnificent church was built, which he adorned like a fair bride. While the church was being built, the blessed one would go amid the idols and pray to God without saying a word aloud. After the church was completed, he tearfully offered prayer to the Lord there, making entreaty to God and saying, "0 Lord, gather the people which have been scattered, and lead them unto this church. Enlighten the eyes of their mind, that they may know Thee to be the one true God, Who lovest mankind."

When he had finished his prayer, the saint left the church, overturned the altar of the pagans, and destroyed their gods. When the heathen saw this, they fell upon him like wild beasts, thrashed him, and cast him out of the village. But he returned by night to the church and began to cry out, weeping in prayer to God and beseeching Him to save the people from perdition. When morning dawned, the pagans found him in the church praying (for they came every day to the church, not to pray but to marvel at the magnificence and beauty of the building), and they were amazed. The blessed one besought them to acknowledge the one true God, but they beat him with staves as though he were a lifeless rock. They threw him to the ground, tied a noose about his neck, and dragged him out of the village. Then, thinking he was dead, they laid a stone upon him and departed. But Abramius came to himself in the middle of the night, and scarcely alive, sat up and began to weep bitterly, saying to God, "Why, 0 Master, hast Thou spurned my lowliness and my tears? Why hast Thou turned Thy face away from me and disdained me, who am the work of Thy hand? 0 Master, look down upon Thy servant and hearken unto my prayer! Strengthen me, and loose Thy servants from the bonds of the devil, and grant them to know Thee, the only true God; for there is no God other than Thee."

Abramius then went into the village and entered the church, and he stood there, chanting and praying. The next morning, the pagans came and found that he was still alive and were astonished. As they were brutal and merciless men, they again began to torment him cruelly. Having knocked him to the ground, they tied a rope about his neck and dragged him out of the city. The blessed one suffered similar cruelties at their hands for three years: he was persecuted, beaten, reviled, stoned, and endured hunger and thirst. But although the heathen brought all these things upon him, never was he angry with them, neither did he complain nor show cowardice. He bore these things without growing despondent, and torments only served to increase his love for the people and his desire for their salvation. He instructed the elderly respectfully as though they were his own parents and taught the young as if they were his brothers, entreating them to accept the faith. The children he dealt with as though they were his own, even though they mocked and reviled him.

The people of that village could not but be amazed by Abramius’s life; and one day, when all of them had gathered together, they began to speak with one another, saying, "Do you not see what patience this man has? Do you not see what love beyond words he has for us? He has suffered much evil from us but has not gone away or said a word of complaint to anyone. He has not turned away from us but endures all things with great joy. Truly, God, of Whom he ever speaks, has sent him to us, that we might correct our lives. He tells us of the kingdom, of paradise, and of life eternal, and his words are surely true. Otherwise, he would be unable to endure such abuse at our hands. Moreover, he has shown us that our gods are powerless, for they proved unable to revenge themselves upon him when he broke them to pieces. He is indeed a servant of the living God, and all that he has said is truth. Come, then, let us believe in the God Whom he preaches!" The people then hastened to enter the church, crying and saying, "Glory to the God of heaven, Who hath sent us His servant to save us from the delusion of the devil!"

When the blessed one saw them, he rejoiced exceedingly, and his countenance shone like the light of morning. He opened his mouth and said to the people, "0 my fathers, brethren, and children! Come, let us glorify God, Who has illumined the eyes of your hearts, that you should know Him and be cleansed of the impurity of idolatry. Believe in the living God with all your heart, for He is the Creator of heaven and earth and of all things therein, the Lord unoriginate, ineffable, unapproachable, the Giver of light, both dread and just, Who loves mankind. Have faith also in His only-begotten Son, Who is His Wisdom and Power and does His will, and in the Holy Spirit, Who gives life to all things; for if you believe thus, you shall have eternal life."

The people answered him: "O our father, the guide of our life! We believe as you say and teach us, and we are ready to do whatsoever you command."

The blessed one immediately took them all and baptized them, old and young, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In all they were about a thousand souls. Every day he read to them from the divine Scriptures and spoke of the kingdom of heaven, of paradise, of the fire of Gehenna and of righteousness, faith, and love. Like fertile ground they received the good seed and gave forth fruit, one a hundredfold, another sixtyfold, another thirtyfold. The blessed one, who was like an angel of God, was ever engaged in their instruction, and they hearkened to him eagerly, gladly, and with diligence. They gave close heed to his sacred teaching, for they were bound to him by the bonds of love.

The blessed one lived with the villagers for a full year after their conversion, because he wished to confirm them in the faith. Day and night he taught them the word of God without ceasing. When he saw that they were established in their zeal for God and that their faith was firm, he wished to leave them, knowing that they had come to love and to revere him very much. He feared lest he form an attachment to them, thus betraying his monastic vow. One night, he arose and began to pray to God, saying, "0 Thou Who alone art without sin, 0 Thou only Holy One, the merciful Master Who alone lovest mankind and restest in the saints! Thou hast enlightened the eyes of this people, freed them from the deception of idolatry, and vouchsafed them to know Thee. Do Thou ever keep and preserve them, 0 Master, and do Thou guard this Thy flock, which Thou hast acquired in Thy great love for mankind. Protect them from every side by Thy grace, ever illumine their hearts, and cause them to be altogether pleasing unto Thee, that they may be vouchsafed Thy heavenly kingdom. Defend Thou me also, who am feeble and unworthy, and count not mine intention as sin, for Thou knowest that I love Thee and seek after Thee."

When Abramius had finished his prayer, he signed himself with the Cross and secretly departed to another place where he hid himself from the villagers. The next day, the newly enlightened people went to the church, according to their custom. They searched for the godly one but did not find him, and in their confusion they wandered about like lost sheep seeking their shepherd, for whom they wept as they called out his name. Having looked everywhere and not found him, they became very downcast and hastened to the Bishop to tell him what had happened. The Bishop likewise was saddened when he learned of this, and as he saw how Abramius’ flock wept and besought God to return their father to them, he sent a number of his servants without delay, to seek for the blessed one. The servants diligently sought for him as though he were a precious stone but could not find him. Therefore, the Bishop went with his clergy to the village, and seeing that all its inhabitants were steadfast in the faith and their love for Christ, he chose from their number worthy men, ordaining them presbyters and deacons. Then, after blessing them, he departed.

When the blessed one heard what the Bishop had done, he rejoiced greatly. He gave glory to God and said, "O my good Master! What shall I render unto Thee for all Thou hast done for me? I worship and glorify Thy divine providence!"

After praying thus, Abramius joyfully returned to the cell where he had formerly lived. A little way from the first cell he built another, in which he shut himself up. But seeing Abramius’ great struggles and how the saint rejoiced in God his Saviour, the devil burned with envy toward him and began to strive in every way to cast down Christ’s good warrior. Seeking to stir up proud thoughts in him, Satan tempted him with words of praise. Once, as the blessed one stood at prayer at midnight, a light as bright as the sun suddenly shone in his cell, and he heard what seemed to be a divine voice, saying, "You are blessed indeed, 0 Abramius! Verily, you are blessed, for no other man has done my will as you have. Because of this you are truly blessed!"

Abramius at once perceived the delusion of the adversary, and he lifted up his voice and said, "May you perish in darkness, 0 Satan, full of deceit and wickedness! I am a sinful man, but I trust in my God’s succor and grace. I do not fear you, and your illusions do not frighten me, for the name of Jesus Christ, Whom I love, is my invincible rampart. In His name I adjure you to depart!"

Immediately the devil vanished like smoke. A few days later, however, as the blessed one was praying by night, Satan again appeared, holding an axe, with which he began to destroy Abramius’ cell. When it seemed that the cell had been ruined, the devil cried out to his companions, "Hurry, my friends; make haste and let us strangle him!"

But the blessed one answered, All the nations compassed me round about, and by the name of the Lord I warded them off.

Straightway Satan vanished, and the cell was seen to have suffered no harm. But only a few days after this, as the saint was praying at midnight, Abramius saw that the mat on which he stood was about to be consumed by raging fire. The godly one trampled down the flames, and he said, "Upon the asp and the basilisk shall I tread, and I shall trample upon the lion and the dragon and on all the power of the enemy in the name of my Helper, Jesus Christ my God."

Satan took flight and cried out with a loud voice, "I shall conquer you yet, vile one, for I have devised a new snare for you!"

One day, as the blessed Abramius was eating, the devil again entered his cell, this time in the guise of a youth. He drew near the saint and pretended that it was his intention to dash to the floor the vessel from which Abramius ate. Seeing this, the blessed one held on to the bowl and continued to eat, not showing the least fear as the devil stood before him. Then the devil set a burning candle on a candlestand and began to chant with a loud voice, Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.

Satan chanted the psalm through to the end, but the saint did not answer him until he had finished eating. He then made the sign of the Cross and said to the devil, "Vile dog, thrice-wretched, impotent, and cowardly! If you know that the blameless are blessed, why do you trouble them? Truly, all who love God and trust in Him with their whole heart are blessed and thrice-blessed."

Answered the devil, "I vex them in the hope of vanquishing them, and I tempt them to turn them away from every good work."

The blessed one said to him, "May it not go well with you, accursed one! May you not overcome or lead astray any of those who fear God. It is those like you who have fallen away from their God that you deceive and conquer, for God is not with them. You are forced to vanish before those who love God even as smoke vanishes in the wind. Their prayer alone suffices to drive you away as the wind sweeps away dust. My Lord lives and is blessed forevermore; He is my glory and my boast, and even if you should stand here for a year or more, you will not cause me to fear you. O you unclean dog! I will never do your will, for I despise you as a filthy cur."

The devil disappeared when the blessed one spoke thus; but five days later, as the saint was concluding his midnight chanting, the enemy again appeared, accompanied by what seemed to be a multitude of people. They encircled his cell with a rope, and pulling it tight, cried out to one another, "Let us cast his cell into the abyss!"

Seeing this, the blessed one said, "They compassed me about like unto bees around a honeycomb, and they burst into flame like a fire among the thorns, and by the name of the Lord I warded them off."

To this Satan could only say, "I do not know what else to do; lo, you have utterly prevailed over me. You have overthrown my power and caused me to be held in disdain, but nevertheless, I will not leave you in peace until I vanquish and humble you."

The blessed one said, "0 unclean one, may you and all your works be cursed, but to God our Master, Who alone is holy, be glory and worship! Learn now, 0 wretched and shameless one, that we fear neither you nor your specters."

The devil warred thus with the saint for a considerable time, seeking to frighten him with various apparitions, but he could not vanquish that steadfast struggler and was himself overcome. The blessed one continued to add to his labors, and his love for God grew so that he came to love the Lord with his whole heart. His manner of life was such that he was filled with God’s grace, and because of this the devil could not prevail over him. During all the years he was a monk, a day did not pass when he failed to weep, and he never succumbed to laughter. He did not partake of oil in his food, and he never washed his face, but lived each day as though he were about to die.

Now the blessed one had a brother according to the flesh, who had one daughter. When her father died, the girl was left an orphan. She was at that time seven years old, and she was taken to her uncle by acquaintances of her father. He ordered that she be left in his outer cell while he withdrew into seclusion in the inner chamber. There was a small door between the two through which he taught her the Psalter and the other books of Holy Scripture. Thus, the maiden began to live the monastic life, fasting and praying like her uncle, and she exercised herself in every monastic labor and virtue. Although her father had left her considerable wealth, the saint commanded that it be distributed to the poor at the very hour of his brother’s death.

The blessed one often shed tears as he besought God to care for the maiden and to guard her from the vanity of this world, and she would herself often entreat her uncle to pray God that she be delivered from every snare of the devil. She strove to emulate her uncle’s monastic life in every way; and the elder rejoiced when he saw her zealous labors, her tears, humility, silence, meekness, and love for God. She labored with him in monasticism for that time like a pure lamb or an unblemished turtledove. But at the end of that time, the devil laid his snares to trip her up and to catch her, hoping by this to grieve the blessed one and to tear his mind from God.

There was a certain monk who frequently visited the saint under the pretext of receiving instruction from him. When this monk (who was a monk only in name, not in deed) first saw the blessed maiden, he was filled with lust for her. He wished to speak with her, for his heart burned with a mad love. He longed for her thus for a whole year until one day, with the help of Satan, he opened the door to her cell and entered, seducing and defiling her.

After she had fallen into sin, Mary (for this was the maiden’s name) was filled with terror. She rent her garment and beat her face, and in her grief she wished to put an end to her life. She said, "I have slain my soul and ruined my life; I have brought to nought all my monastic labors, my fasting, and my tears! I have angered God, destroyed myself, and cast my godly uncle into bitter sorrow. I have become the devil’s plaything; why should I continue to live? 0 woe is me; what have I done? What a grievous pit I have fallen into! A dark gloom has covered my heart, and now I do not know what to do or where I may hide myself. Where shall I go? Into what abyss shall I fling myself? Where now is the teaching of my venerable uncle, where the instruction of his friend Ephraim, who said to me, ’Be heedful and guard your soul undefiled for the immortal Bridegroom, for He is a holy and jealous God.’ But I no longer make bold to lift my eyes to heaven, for I have perished before both God and man. I cannot remain here, for I am a sinful woman, altogether defiled; how can I dare speak with my holy father? If I should approach him, fire will issue forth from the door of his cell and burn me up. It would be better for me to go to another land where no one knows me, for I have perished, and no hope of salvation remains for me."

Mary immediately arose and journeyed to another city where she changed her attire and took up her abode in a brothel. Now as these things took place, the blessed Abramius saw a dream. He beheld a fearful and enormous serpent, which hissed menacingly. This serpent slithered into his cell where it found a dove and swallowed it up. Then the serpent withdrew, returning to its den.

When the saint awoke, he was sorely troubled and wept bitterly, saying, "Can it be that Satan has raised up a persecution against the Holy Church? Perhaps many have forsaken the faith or the Church is troubled by schism."

Two days later, Abramius saw in another dream that same serpent creep out of its pit and into his cell, but this time it placed its head beneath his feet and burst asunder. The dove which was in his belly, however, remained alive, and when the blessed one stretched out his hand to take it, he found that it had suffered no harm.

After the blessed one arose, he called out once or twice to the maiden, his co-struggler, and said, "This is the second day that you remain slothful and have not opened your mouth to glorify God!"

As there was no answer, Abramius opened the door and saw that his niece was gone. He then perceived that the vision pertained to her, and he began to weep and to say, "O woe is me! The wolf has snatched away my ewe-lamb! My child has been stolen from me!"

Then the saint lifted up his voice and lamented tearfully, "O Saviour of the whole world, return Thy lamb Mary to the fold of life, that grief may not cast me down into Hades in mine old age. Disdain not my supplication, 0 Lord, but quickly send Thine aid, that she may be delivered from the maw of the serpent."

Mary lived away from her uncle for two years, but he did not cease to pray for her day and night to God. Then someone told the saint where his niece was to be found and what sort of life she was leading. Abramius begged one of his acquaintances to go to that place to verify the truth of what he had heard. The man went, found the place, saw Mary, and returned to assure Abramius that the report was true.

When the saint had confirmed these things, he asked that he be brought the garb of a soldier and a horse. He then broke open the door of his cell and came forth from his seclusion. After he had clothed himself in military uniform and put upon his head a high-crowned hood that concealed his face, he took a gold piece, mounted the horse, and rode away. When he came to the brothel, he glanced about to see if Mary was there and gaily said to the proprietor, "Friend, I have heard that you keep a certain fair wench. It would please me to have a look at her."

The innkeeper saw his hoary grey hairs and laughed in his heart, since he supposed that Abramius wished to have her. He replied, "The lass does live here, and she is very comely," for the blessed maiden was indeed uncommonly handsome.

Then the elder said jestingly, "Call for her, that I may amuse myself with her this night."

The innkeeper called Mary, and she came to her uncle. When the saint saw her bedecked as a harlot, he could scarcely hold back his tears, but he constrained himself so that she would not recognize him and flee. They sat down together and began to drink, and that wondrous man made merry with her. Mary took him in her arms, but when she began to kiss him, she smelt the fragrance that came forth from his pure body, which had been mortified by numerous ascetic labors. She called to mind the past when she lived in abstinence, and she sighed and wept, saying, "0 woe is me!"

The innkeeper said to her, "Mary, you have now been with us for two years, and never have I heard you sigh thus and say such things. What is it that troubles you?"

Mary answered, "I would be happy if I had died before I came here!"

Not wishing her to recognize him, the blessed Abramius said to Mary sharply, "Ah, you only remembered your sins when you came to me!"

Then Abramius took out his gold piece, gave it to the innkeeper, and said, "Friend, make us a fine supper, that I may sport with this wench tonight, for I have come a long way for her sake."

O the divine wisdom and spiritual discernment of the godly one! O the condescension which he showed her! He who in fifty years as a monk had not once eaten his fill of bread or drank his share of water now eats flesh and drinks wine, in order to save a lost soul. Even the ranks of the holy angels in heaven marvelled at the wisdom, compassion, and good judgment of that blessed father. He ate meat and drank wine to snatch a drowning soul from the defilement of sin. O surpassing wisdom! O understanding beyond measure!

After they had eaten and made merry, the maiden said to Abramius, "Sir, let us go and lie upon my bed, that we may sleep."

The saint said, "Very well."

When they entered the chamber, Abramius saw a large bed, thickly spread with covers, and he sat down upon it. Then he said to Mary, "Close the door. Come here and remove my shoes."

Mary locked the door and sat down beside the saint. He said to her, "Come closer to me."

Abramius took hold of Mary firmly so that she could not flee, removed the hood from his head, and kissed her. Weeping, he said, "Mary, my child, do you not recognize me? Am I not he who reared you? What has become of you, my child? Who has brought you to ruin? Where is the angelic habit you once wore, my daughter? What has become of your abstinence and the tears you once shed? What of your vigils and your sleeping upon the ground? You have fallen from the heights of heaven into this wretched pit. 0 my child! Why did you not tell me when you fell into sin? My beloved friend Ephraim and I would have taken your labors of repentance upon ourselves. Why have you brought me to such grief? Can you not see the sorrow into which you have cast me? My child, who except God alone is without sin?"

When Mary heard this, she became like a lifeless stone in his arms, stricken with fear and shame. Then the blessed one said, "Have you nothing to say to me, my child Mary? Have you nothing to say to me, 0 my heart? I will answer for you, my child, on the day of judgment; I will take the penance for your sins upon myself."

The saint continued to entreat her thus until midnight, weeping and exhorting her. Little by little she took courage and said to him tearfully, "I cannot bear to look upon you because of the shame of my face. How dare I pray to God when my lips are so defiled?"

Abramius said to her, "Child, may your sin be upon me! May God require recompense for your sin from my hands! Only heed me, and let us return to our cell. I know that Ephraim will also pray to God for you, my daughter. Show mercy upon my old age, O my heart. Come now, child, depart with me."

Mary answered him thus: "If you are certain that I can repent and that God will accept my prayer, I will come, falling down before your holiness. I kiss the soles of your sacred feet, for you have shown great compassion for me by coming here to lead me away from this vile and unclean place."

She then placed her head upon his feet and wept through the night, crying, "How can I make amends for all my sins, 0 Master!"

When morning dawned, Abramius said to the girl, "Arise; let us be gone."

She said to him, "I have some gold and clothing here. What would you have me do with them?"

Said the blessed one, "Leave it all here, for it is the devil’s portion."

Without delay they departed. The saint set Mary on the horse and led her away, walking before her. As they went on their way, the blessed one rejoiced in his heart like a shepherd who has found his lost sheep and taken it upon his shoulders. Reaching his dwelling, Abramius immediately shut her in the inner cell. She put on a hair shirt, and calling upon God’s help, fervently devoted herself to monastic labors. Weeping and fasting, guarding herself in meekness and humility, she gave herself over to repentance with much zeal. Such was her penitence and such her prayer that our repentance in comparison seems but a shadow, and our prayer to be nothing whatsoever. And the compassionate God, Who does not will that any man should perish but desires that all come to repentance, had mercy upon His handmaiden, whose penitence was true; and He forgave her sins. Moreover, as a sign of the remission of her sins, Mary was granted the grace to heal the illnesses of those who had recourse to her.

The blessed Abramius lived for ten more years. Seeing Mary’s great repentance, her tears, fasting, labors, and her fervent prayer to the Lord, he was consoled and gave glory to God. He was seventy years old when he reposed in the Lord. After his death almost all the inhabitants of the city assembled to approach his precious body, through which healing was bestowed on the infirm.

Christ’s ewe-lamb Mary lived in great abstinence for five years after the repose of her uncle. She prayed to God tearfully day and night so that many heard the voice of her weeping and boundless lamentation as they passed by her cell. They would stop and marvel, giving glory to God. Such was the perfect repentance by which the blessed Mary pleased God! She reposed in peace, and now, having shed copious tears, she rejoices with the saints, who exult in the Lord. To Him be glory unto the ages. Amen.


HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Abramius the Recluse

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

St. Abramius left his bride
And dedicated his life to strict asceticism.
By asceticism he worked out his salvation,
And wisely directed others to salvation.
Demonic power attacked the saint,
But in the name of Christ he crushed it.
The demon took on various, horrible guises,
To scare and hinder the man of God.
This man of God did not allow himself to fear,
Or separate his mind from God,
But shone on the world like a candle,
Glorifying the One God, the Most-holy Trinity.
Imprisoned, alone and not wanted by the world,
Abramius became a prisoner for the sake of Christ
For fifty years-fifty years!
Of tears, fasting and struggle-all for the Son of God:
For fifty years-fifty years!
Established on Christ, the firm Foundation.
Glory to Abramius, Christ's soldier,
That, on the mortal earth, he has shown us immortality!

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Abramius, your soul rejoices with the angels.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
You abandoned all earthly comforts, O Father Abramius, living righteously in hope of things to come and receiving a sacred anointing. Initiated into divine mysteries, you enlighten those who cry: Glory to him who has strengthened you! Glory to him who has granted you a crown! Glory to him who through you works healing for all!

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou, while living in the flesh, wast as an angel upon earth; and through thine ascetic pains, thou didst become like a great tree planted by the streams of temp'rance, increasing greatly; with the rivers of thy tears, thou didst cleanse away stains. O Abramius, for this cause, a godly vessel of the Good Spirit art thou.