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March 24, 2016

Holy Abba Zachariah of Egypt

Venerable Abba Zachariah (Feast Day - Gr. March 24; Slav. Dec. 5)


You were equated Father to God in might,
Joined to the Son of God you were displaced from earth to a new state.

Our Venerable Father Zachariah was the son of Abba Karion (Nov. 24), and together with his father he went as a child to Scete and became a Monk. He attained such extreme humility and virtue, that he was made worthy to become a vessel of the Holy Spirit, who inflamed his heart night and day. For this reason his own father Abba Karion said of him: "I have performed many more physical tasks than my son Zachariah, but I have not attained to his stature in humility and silence."

Many of the great Fathers and Elders sought to learn how it was that the Holy Spirit came to find rest within him. This prompted Abba Makarios to ask Abba Zachariah: “Tell me, what makes a monk?” He said: “Is it not wrong that you should be asking me?” And Abba Makarios said to him: “I am sure I ought to ask of you, my son, Zachariah. I have one who urges me on to ask you.” Zachariah said to him: “As far as I can tell, Father, I think that whoever controls and forces himself to be content with necessities and nothing more, that man is a monk.”

Once a vision came to Abba Zachariah when he was staying at Scete, and he reported it to his father Abba Karion; but he, being a man of action, really knew nothing of such things. He beat him, saying the vision was of the demons. But the thought endured; so he went to Abba Poemen by night and told him everything, and how it was burning within him. The elder perceived that it was from God, so he sent him to a certain elder, saying to him, "Do whatever he tells you." He went, and before he made any inquiry, the elder anticipated him and told him everything. "The vision is from God," he said, "but go and be subject to your father."

We also read how one day Abba Moses said to Abba Zachariah: "Tell me what I ought to do?" At these words the latter threw himself on the ground at the old man's feet and said, "Are you asking me, Father?" The old man said to him "Believe me, Zachariah, my son, I have seen the Holy Spirit descending upon you and since then I am constrained to ask you." Then Zachariah drew his hood off his head, put it under his feet and trampled on it, saying, "The man who does not let himself be treated thus, cannot become a monk."

Abba Poemen said: "Abba Moses asked Abba Zachariah a question when he was about to die, saying, 'Abba, is it ‎good that we should be silent?' And Zachariah said to him, 'Yes, my son; be silent.' And at the time ‎of his death, while Abba Isidore was sitting with him, he looked up to heaven and said, 'Rejoice and be ‎glad, O my son Zachariah, for the gates of heaven have been opened.'"