November 7, 2020

The Education of Saint Lazarus of Mount Gelasion


3. So the child was raised devoutly and piously by his parents not unworthy of their hopes for him. When he became articulate in his speech and had reached the age of six, he was handed over by his parents to the aforesaid priest Leontios at the behest of his uncle Elias, who was a monk in the monastery of Kalathai. Because Elias had also heard by word of mouth about the miraculous character of the child’s birth, he said that it had certainly not happened without God’s aid, and for this reason he urged the boy’s parents to let him receive the proper attention for instruction in the holy letters. After three years had passed, they sent him away for instruction, on the orders of the same uncle, to a notary called George who lived at Oroboi. After he had spent another three years there, his uncle took him to  the monastery  with him  to  teach him  about  church matters  and to  have him  as  his  attendant. However,  when  the  boy  saw  that  his uncle  was  well endowed with material necessities but gave away nothing at all from his possessions to the poor, he secretly took whatever he found and gave it to the needy. In the end, because Lazarus continued to do this, there was no way for him to escape detection, for when Elias looked for these things and could not  find  them  he  began  to  assail the  boy with  interrogations,  blows,  and insults;  but  he  bore  everything  nobly  and  did  not  stop  his  good  work.  He would also take books from the church and, reading them by himself in solitude, would reap much profit from them.
4. Then divine love entered into Lazarus’ soul and he, like the great Abraham, began seeking to become a wanderer from his own homeland and to go to the holy places of Christ’s passions. So, one night, he slipped out of the monastery in secret without being observed by anyone and set off on the journey for which he was longing. When his flight became known, however, his uncle sent some people out to search for him without delay. They caught up with him by making inquiries and then returned to the monastery again and took  him  back  to  his  uncle  against  his  will.  When Elias had  sufficiently chastised him with insults and blows, he ordered those in the monastery to watch him carefully so that he might not leave it at all. After spending two years in the monastery with his uncle, Lazarus was sent by him to the monastery of Strobelion, to a notary called Nicholas, for further education in the professional skill of notaries. This notary was just as heartless as the monk Elias, for he would give nothing away at all and was without pity. Therefore, when the pupil saw that his teacher was so untutored in regard to the good, he began without hesitation to teach and admonish him not to be so unsympathetic and miserly toward the poor. However, as Lazarus saw that the man was scarcely swayed at all by his words, he left off speaking and took to action, and whenever he found anything, he did the same with it as he had done with the monk’s possessions. When this came to the notary’s knowledge, however, he was not angry or annoyed with the boy, as the monk Elias had been, but instead he was amazed and astonished at the youth’s good moral judgment and disposition. Once, in the middle of the night, Nicholas woke up and heard the sound of people singing psalms. He got up and went quietly to where the boy was, for it seemed to him that the sound was coming from there. As he stood nearby, he heard Lazarus praying and singing psalms by himself, and so he went back and lay down in his bed and fell asleep again praising God. And so, from then on, Nicholas no longer treated Lazarus as a pupil but as a teacher. Such a man, then, was Lazarus’ teacher.