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February 27, 2020

Saint Titus the Presbyter of the Kiev Caves (+ 1190)

St. Titus the Presbyter of the Kiev Caves (Feast Day - February 27)

Kiev Caves Paterikon

Discourse 23: The Priest Titus and the Deacon Evagrius, 
Two Brothers Who Were on Very Bad Terms With Each Other 
(which is part of the epistle of Bishop Simon 
of Vladimir and Suzdal to Polycarp the Monk)

Now I will tell you yet another remarkable miracle, which I myself witnessed. It happened as follows in the same holy Caves Monastery.

There were two spiritual brothers, the deacon Evagrius and the priest Titus. They loved each other deeply and sincerely, so that everybody marveled at their harmony and boundless mutual affection. But the devil, that hater of good who is always roaring like a lion seeking some­one to devour, made enmity between them and instilled such hatred that they would not look at each other. The brethren often begged them to be reconciled, but they would not listen. When Evagrius was standing in the church and Titus came in with the censer, Evagrius would avoid the incense; and if he did not do so, Titus would go past without censing him. They remained for a long time in the darkness of sin, since when Titus was cele­brating Evagrius refused to accept absolution and received communion in anger. It was the enemy that put them up to this.

One day Titus fell seriously ill, and as he lay in despair he began to weep for his loss and sent for the deacon in a spirit of contrition, saying, “Forgive me, brother, for God’s sake, for being angry with you!” But Evagrius cursed him with violent words. The elders, seeing that Titus was dying, forcibly dragged Evagrius in to forgive his brother. When the sick man saw him he rose up a little and fell down at his feet, saying with tears, “Forgive me, father, and give your blessing.” But the cruel and hard-hearted Evagrius refused and said in front of all of us, “I will never be reconciled with him, neither in this world nor in the next!” He tore him­self away from the elders’ arms and immediately fell down. When we tried to get him to his feet, we found that he was dead. We were unable to stretch out his arms or close his lips as though he had been dead for a long time. Meanwhile the sick one got up quickly, as though he had never been ill. We were filled with terror at the sudden death of the one and the rapid recovery of the other.

After much weeping we buried Evagrius with his lips and eyes open and his arms outstretched. We asked Titus what had happened, and he told us, “I saw some angels moving away from me and weeping over my soul, while demons rejoiced at my anger. Then I began to beg my brother to forgive me. When they brought him to me, I saw a pitiless angel holding a fiery lance. When Evagrius refused to forgive me, the angel struck him and he fell down dead, but the angel gave me his hand and lifted me up.”

When we heard this, we were filled with the fear of God Who said, “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” For the Lord said, “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judg­ment.” And Ephraim says, “If any man should die in a state of enmity, he will be judged without mercy.” If this man does not receive absolution through the holy Anthony and Theodosius, woe unto him, vanquished as he is by such a passion.

Be warned by this story and take care, brother, not to give any room to the demon of anger, for whoever is subject to him becomes his slave. Rather you should fall down and prostrate yourself before your enemy, lest you be delivered over to the pitiless angel. May the Lord preserve you from any feeling of anger, for He said, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” To Him be glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and forever.*

* After this, Saint Titus increased his ascetic struggles, and received from God the gift of working miracles. He was also known for his great humility. Saint Titus reposed around 1190 and is buried in the Near Caves.