June 5, 2017

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Anoub the Anchorite and Signbearer

Holy Abba Anoub the Signbearer (Feast Day - June 6)


Anoub performed signs and died gracefully,
As one alive he hitherto shows forth to be living.


Anoub was one of the seven brothers of Poemen, whose sayings occupy a large place in the Apophthegmata. Three of the brothers, Anoub, Paisius and Poemen lived together at first in Scetis, with Poemen as their leader. After the first devastation of Scetis (407-8) they went with their brothers to Terenuthis where they decided to stay together and live the cenobitic life, with Anoub taking charge. The Devastation of Scetis marks a turning point in the history of early monasticism in Egypt; the monks dispersed, and gradually the center shifted from Egypt to Palestine. This story of Anoub and his brothers indicates a new reason for the formation of cenobitic communities, that is, protection against invaders. It is said he suffered for his Christian faith prior to becoming a monastic. He reposed in peace.

Sayings of Abba Anoub

1. Abba John said of Abba Anoub and Abba Poemen and the rest of their brethren who come from the same womb and were made monks in Scetis, that when the barbarians came and laid waste that district for the first time, they left for a place called Terenuthis until they decided where to settle. They stayed in an old temple several days. Then Abba Anoub said to Abba Poemen, 'For love's sake do this: let each of us live in quietness, each one by himself, without meeting one another the whole week.' Abba Poemen replied, 'We will do as you wish.' So they did this. Now there was in the temple a statue of stone. When he woke up in the morning, Abba Anoub threw stones at the face of the statue and in the evening he said to it, 'Forgive me.' During the whole week he did this. On Saturday they came together and Abba Poemen said to Abba Anoub, Abba, I have seen you during the whole week throwing stones at the face of the statue and kneeling to ask it to forgive you. Does a believer act thus?' The old man answered him, 'I did this for your sake. When you saw me throwing stones at the face of the statue, did it speak, or did it become angry?' Abba Poemen said, 'No.' 'Or again, when I bent down in penitence, was it moved, and did it say, "I will not forgive you?'" Again Abba Poemen answered 'No.' Then the old man resumed, 'Now we are seven brethren; if you wish us to live together, let us be like this statue, which is not moved whether one beats it or whether one flatters it. If you do not wish to become like this, there are four doors here in the temple, let each one go where he will.' Then the brethren prostrated themselves and said to Abba Anoub, 'We will do as you wish, Father, and we will listen to what you say to us.' Abba Poemen added, 'Let us live together to the rest of our time, working according to the word which the old man has given us.' He made one of them housekeeper and all that he brought them, they ate and none of them had the authority to say, 'Bring us something else another time,' or perhaps, 'We do not want to eat this.' Thus they passed all their time in quietness and peace.

2. Abba Anoub said, 'Since the day when the name of Christ was invoked upon me, no lie has come out of my mouth.'

Sayings of Abba Poemen Referencing Abba Anoub

3. One day the priests of the district came to the monasteries where Abba Poemen was. Abba Anoub came and said to him, 'Let us invite the priests in today.' But he stood for a long time without giving him any reply, and, quite offended, Abba Anoub went away. Those who were sitting beside Poemen said to him, Abba, why didn't you answer him?' Abba Poemen said to them, 'It is not my business, for I am dead and a dead man does not speak.'

15. Abba Anoub asked Abba Poemen about the impure thoughts which the heart of man brings forth and about vain desires. Abba Poemen said to him, 'Is the axe any use without someone to cut with it? (Is. 10:15) If you do not make use of these thoughts, they will be ineffectual too.'

22. A brother came to see Abba Poemen and said to him, 'I sow my field and give away in charity what I reap from it.' The old man said to him, 'That is good,' and he departed with fervour and intensified his charity. Hearing this, Abba Anoub said to Abba Poemen, 'Do you not fear God, that you have spoken like that to the brother?' The old man remained silent. Two days later Abba Poe- men saw the brother coming and in the presence of Abba Anoub said to him, 'What did you ask me the other day? I was not attending.' The brother said, 'I said that I sow my field and give away what I gain in charity.' Abba Poemen said to him, 'I thought you were speaking of your brother who is in the world. If it is you who are doing this, it is not right for a monk.' At these words the brother was saddened and said, 'I do not know any other work and I cannot help sowing the fields.' When he had gone away, Abba Anoub made a prostration and said, 'Forgive me.' Abba Poemen said, 'From the beginning I too knew it was not the work of a monk but I spoke as I did, adapting myself to his ideas and so I gave him courage to increase his charity. Now he has gone away full of grief and yet he will go on as before.'

72. One day Abba Poemen went with Abba Anoub to the district of Diolcos. Arriving at the cemetery, they saw a woman in great sorrow, weeping bitterly. Standing there they watched her. Going a little further they met someone and Abba Poemen asked him, 'What is this woman weeping so bitterly for?' He said, 'Because her husband is dead and her son and her brother.' Abba Poemen said to the brother, 'I tell you, if a man does not mortify all his carnal desires and acquire compunction like this, he cannot become a monk. Truly the whole of this woman's life and soul are turned to compunction.'

76. One of the Fathers related this about Abba Poemen and his brethren: 'When they were living in Egypt, their mother wanted to see them and was not able to do so. So she took note of the time when they went to church and went to meet them. But when they saw her, they made a detour and closed the door in her face. But she beat on the door and cried with tears and groans, saying, "I must see you, my beloved children!" Hearing her, Abba Anoub went to Abba Poemen and said to him, "What shall we do with this old woman who is weeping against the door?" From inside where he was standing, he heard her weeping with many groans and he said to her, "Woman, why are you crying out like this?" When she heard his voice, she cried out even more, weeping and saying, "I want to see you, my children. What will happen if I do see you? Am I not your mother? Was it not I who suckled you? So I was troubled when I heard your voice." The old man said to her, "Would you rather see us here or in the age which is to come?" She said to him, "If I do not see you here, shall I see you in the age to come?" He said to her, "If you refrain from seeing us now, you will see us yonder." So she departed full of joy and said, "If I shall see you perfectly yonder, I do not want to see you here.'"

98. A brother put the same question to Abba Anoub, telling him what Abba Poemen had said. Abba Anoub said to him, 'If a man really affirms this saying, when he sees his brother's faults he sees that his integrity exceeds his faults.' The brother said, 'What is integrity?' The old man replied, Always to accuse himself.'

108. It was said that if one of the brethren came to see Abba Poemen the latter used to send him first to Abba Anoub, because he was older than he. But Abba Anoub would say to them, 'Go to my brother Poemen because it is he who has the gift of speaking.' Whenever Abba Anoub came to sit beside Abba Poemen the latter refused to speak in his presence.

131. Some Fathers asked Abba Poemen, 'How could Abba Nisterus bear so well with his discipline?' Abba Poemen said to them, If I had been in his place, I would even have put a pillow under his head.' Abba Anoub said, And what would you have said to God?' Abba Poemen said, 'I would have said to him: "You have said, 'First take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brothers' eye." ' (Matt. 7:5)

172. He also said to Abba Anoub, 'Turn away your eyes lest they behold vanity; (cf. Ps. 119:37) for licence causes souls to perish.'

173. One day when Abba Poemen was sitting down, Paesius fought with his brother till the blood ran from their heads. The old man said absolutely nothing to them. Then Abba Anoub came in and saw them, he said to Abba Poemen, 'Why have you let the brothers fight without saying anything to them?' Abba Poemen replied, They are brothers, and they will make it up again.' Abba Anoub said, 'What do you mean? You saw them behaving like this, and all you say is they will make it up again?' Abba Poemen said to him, Try and think that inwardly I was not here to see it.'


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Anoub, in just three dark nights,
Then, to God you will go for reckoning;
Relate to us a useful word!
Three elders asked him, the three together.
Anoub, to the elders replied:
To persecution, I was exposed
For the honorable Cross and for the True Faith,
To the Lord I wanted to offer my head,
But from that, the Lord turned me
To me the martyr's wreath, He did not want to give.
Never, the earthly seek from God
With every good, the Lord has eased me,
Radiant angels, to me appeared,
To me, they brought heavenly food.
Whatever I asked of God, I received,
Many mysteries I saw and comprehended,
I saw the heavens and the faces of angels,
Apostles, saints, martyrs,
Holy and joyful, heavenly faces.
And Paradise wonderful, wonderful and sweet.
I saw Hades and the torments of sinners,
And all the dark satanic hosts.
A lie from my lips, I never uttered,
All earthly delights, I renounced,
The face of Christ, for me, shines greater than the sun
Forgive me elders, Anoub the sinner!