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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Narration Concerning the Contest of a Certain Submissive Monk, Who by Falling Into Disobedience Was Not Made Worthy by God of Perfect Glory


Narration Concerning the Contest of a Certain Submissive Monk, Who by Falling Into Disobedience Was Not Made Worthy by God of Perfect Glory


Disobedient and at the same an athlete,
He is banished, and once again received.

A monk in a certain hermitage was subservient to an elder for a period of some years. By the envy of a demon, one time he strayed from being obedient to the elder, without there being any sensible reason or hurtful pretext. Having been censured by the elder and and given a penance for his disobedience, he disregarded both the censure and the penance. Going therefore to Alexandria, he was arrested by the pagan governor there. Having been stripped of his monastic schema, he was urged to sacrifice to the idols. Because the governor was unable to persuade him, first he was ordered to be flogged with the sinews of an ox without mercy, then the order was given that he be beheaded. When this was done, they cast his body outside the city, to be eaten by the dogs. However, some God-loving Christians went by night and retrieved the body. Wrapping it in a sheet with myrrh, they placed it in a casket. This casket was placed in the Holy Altar of the church, and they honored it as a victorious relic.

Now when the Divine Liturgy was celebrated, and the Deacon called out, "all catechumens depart," - O the miracle! - suddenly everyone who was at the Liturgy saw the casket move on its own accord without any hands laying hold of it, and it would leave the Altar and temple area and stand in the narthex, until the completion of the Liturgy. As the Liturgy was coming to a conclusion, then the casket on its own accord would move, and enter once again into the temple area and the Holy Altar. This wondrous event took place during every Liturgy. This made everyone who saw it astonished and amazed. When one of the great and God-bearing Fathers of that time who was alive learned of this, he made supplication to God to reveal to him the cause of this wonder. God thus heard his entreaty, and quickly revealed to him the cause and solution.

An Angel of the Lord stood before him and said to him, "Why are you amazed and puzzled by this strange thing that is taking place? Did not the Apostles receive from Christ the authority to bind and loose? And again, did not the successors of the Apostles receive from them this authority? Yet this brother, who shed his blood for Christ, and is unable to remain inside the Holy Altar when the divine and sacred Liturgy is celebrated: he disregarded the command and penance of his spiritual father and elder. For this reason a divine Angel banishes him into the narthex. This your fellow ascetic, a disciple and submissive, by the spite of a demon wanted to stray from being obedient to his elder. And not only this, but he was bound by him with a sensible bond and penance, and left his elder. Because of this, in so far as he was tortured and beheaded for Christ, he received the crown of martyrdom. In so far as his bond is concerned, he is not permitted to stand within the Holy Altar during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. And if the elder who bound him does not loose him, he is unable to be loosed by another."*

When these things were revealed by God to this divine elder, he took his staff and went to the ascetic elder of the Martyr, and told him about the matter. Then he took him, and together they went to Alexandria. And opening up the casket, in which was the body of the Martyr, they both imparted to him their forgiveness. And after kissing him, they stood and glorified God. From that time forward, the Martyr remained immobile in the Holy Altar during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.


* According to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite: "This depends if the elder is still alive. But if he was dead, a Bishop can loose the one who was bound."

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