IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
On this day died the great father of light, Abba John the Short.
This holy man was a native of the city, which is called Tansa and
is in Upper Egypt, and he had one brother.
His parents were righteous people, and they feared God; they were
not rich in the goods and possessions of this world, but they were rich in
good works. When this holy
man was eighteen years of age, the grace of God moved him to go to the
desert of Scete, which [name] being interpreted means, “Balance of
hearts.” And he wished to
put on the garb of the monk. And
he found a certain tried and strong old man, whose name was Abba Bamoy, of
the city of Seha, dwelling in Scete, and Saint John bowed low before him
and entreated him that he might dwell with him in Scete.
And Saint Abba Bamoy wished to try him, and he said unto him, “O
my son, it is not right for thee to live here, for this is a very hard
desert, and those who dwell therein have to work with their hands, and
they can only feed themselves by hard toil.
And also over and above this there are very many fasts to be kept,
and many prayers, both by day and by night, to be said, and a man must
sleep on the bare ground naked without a bed (or cushion), and there is
very great hardship in this desert. Nay,
my son, go back into the world and live a life of comfort and ease like
unto that of all other men.” And
Abba John said unto him, “O my father, for God’s sake do not turn me
back for I have come to be under thy authority and under the shadow of thy
prayer. And if thou wilt
accept me I believe that God will make thy heart will-disposed towards
me.” Now Saint Abba Bamoy
was wont never to do anything hastily, and he entreated God concerning
Abba John so that He might reveal to him His works. And the angel of the Lord appeared and said unto him, “God
saith unto thee; accept this brother, for he shall become a chosen
vessel.” And when Abba
Bamoy heard these words from the angel of God, he brought Abba John into
the church, and he shaved off the hair of his head.
Then he laid out the garb of the monk, and he stood and prayed over
it for three days and three nights. Then
the angel of the Lord appeared, and made the sign of the Cross over the
raiment of monkhood, and Abba Bamoy put it upon Abba John.
And Abba John devoted himself with the greatest zeal and diligence
to the splendid works of the ascetic life.
One day Abba Bamoy wished to try him, and he sent Abba John away
from him, saying, “I cannot live with thee”; and Abba John stood for
seven days outside the gates of the monastery, and every day Abba Bamoy
went out to Abba John, and smote him with a stick, and Abba John bowed
down before him and said, “Forgive me, O my father.”
On the seventh day the old man Abba Bamoy went forth to go to the
church, and he saw seven angels, and they had with them seven crowns which
they were placing on the head of Abba John.
And straightway Abba Bamoy took Abba John and brought him into his
cell, and from that day onward he was held by him in honor and reverence.
One day Abba Bamoy found a piece of dry wood and he gave it to Abba
John and he said unto him, “Take this wood and plant it in the ground,
and water it until it sprouteth and bringeth forth fruit.”
And Abba John obeyed Abba Bamoy, and he took that piece of wood,
and planted it, and watered it each day twice; now the water was far off,
a distance of twelve stadia. And
after three years that piece of wood sprouted, and grew into a large tree,
and bore fruit, and the old man Abba Bamoy took some of the fruit thereof
and carried it to all the aged monks, and he said unto them, “Take ye
and eat of the fruit of obedience and humility.”
When the monks saw this miracle they marveled exceedingly, and they
praised God Who gives this virtue unto those who make themselves subject
to His teachers. And Abba
Bamoy fill sick of a very severe sickness, and he continued to suffer from
this sickness for eighteen years, and though Abba John ministered unto him
[all this time] he never once said unto him, “Thou hast done well,”
for the old man Abba Bamoy had grown very old, and he used to try him
exceedingly. And God tried
him with such a severe sickness until at length he became like a piece of
dry wood, so that he might become a chosen offering unto God. When Abba Bamoy was about to die, he gathered together the
aged monks, and he seized the hand of Abba John and gave it unto them,
saying, “Take him, and take care of this man, for he is an angel and not
a man.” Then he said unto
Abba John, “After I am dead I will live in the place wherein thou didst
plant the tree which sprouted and bore fruit, for thou in that place didst
become a holy and acceptable sacrifice before God.
And many men shall be saved by thy hand, and thy memorial shall be
there in that place before God for ever.”
When Abba Bamoy had said this unto him, he opened his mouth and
delivered up his soul into the hand of God.
After this Abba John departed to that place [where the tree was]
according as the old man Abba Bamoy had told him.
And he strove boldly in the working of righteousness, for his name
was exalted exceedingly; and after this he was appointed abbot over his
church. And whilst the
archbishop was laying his hand upon him at the time of his appointment, a
voice came from heaven, and all the people heard it, saying, “Axios,
Axios, Axios,” that is to say, “He is worthy, He is worthy, He is
worthy.” And every time
when Saint John consecrated the Offering, he would watch for those who
were worthy to partake and those who were not worthy.
Now Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, built a church to the Three
Holy Children in the city of Alexandria, and he wished to bring thereto
the bodies of the Three Children from the city of Babylon.
And he asked Saint Abba John to go to the city of Babylon, and to
bring the bodies of the Three Children from the city of Babylon, and after
many requests Abba John went forth on behalf of the archbishop.
And a cloud straightway carried him away and brought him to the
city of Babylon, and he saw that city, and the rivers and the palaces
thereof, and he saw the bodies of the Saints, the Three Children, and the
body of King Nebuchadnezzar lying in their tombs.
And Saint Abba John bowed low, and embraced the bodies of the
saints with tears, and he cried out saying, “O my holy fathers, bless
me!” And straightway he
heard a voice from their bodies, saying, “The God of Israel hath blessed
thee.” When Abba John had
heard this voice he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and rejoiced in the
spiritual blessing. And he
said unto them (i.e., the bodies), “O my fathers, ye martyrs of Christ
God, I tell you that our father the archbishop, Abba Theophilus, has built
a church in your names in the city of Alexandria, and he hath sent me unto
you and he beseeches you and your holy bodies to come and dwell in your
church, so that there may be healing and salvation unto all those who
believe in Christ in all the country of Egypt.”
And the saints answered with one voice and said unto him, “God
shall give thee the reward of thy labor in the life everlasting!
But tell the archbishops that God hath commanded [us] not to remove
our bodies from this place until the day of the Resurrection.
Nevertheless because of his contendings, and his labor, and his
perfect faith, let them suspend lamps, on the night of the day of the
consecration of the church, whilst all the people and the priests are
assembled therein, and we ourselves will come and we will make manifest
the power of God and their blessing.”
And Saint Abba John bowed low, and went forth from their presence
rejoicing in God. When he had
departed a short distance from them, a cloud took him up and brought him
to the outskirts of the city of Alexandria, and he came in to the
archbishop and told him what the saints had said; and the archbishop did
even as the saints had told him. And
when midnight had come on the night of the day of the consecration of the
church, the Three Holy Children appeared in the church surrounded by
brilliant light, and they lighted all the lamps, and they sent forth from
themselves an exceedingly sweet odor.
After this Abba John returned to Scete, and he contended in the
working of righteousness by night and by day.
One day a certain monk came into the cave of Abba John, and he
found him lying down, and the angels of God were waving their wings over
him, and each of them was saying to the other, “Let me lay my wing upon
him.” After this the pagan
Barbarians came to the desert of Scete to plunder the houses of the monks,
and to slay the monks. After
this Saint Abba John went to the monastery of Saint Abba Anthony in the
desert of Kuelzem [by the Red Sea], not that he was afraid of death, but
he said, “I go that a pagan may not come and kill me, and go to Sheol
because of me; I do not wish to be in a state of ease and for that pagan
to suffer punishment on my account. For
he might testify against me before the Lord God, though he is my brother
in nature, and form, and likeness.”
And Abba John dwelt by the side of a village, and God brought him
from it a certain man who was a believer, and he ministered unto him until
the time of his death. When
God wished to give him rest from the labor of this world, He sent unto him
His righteous saints, Abba Anthony, and Abba Macarius, and Abba Pachomius,
to comfort him and to inform him concerning his departure, and there was
with them Abba Bamoy, his spiritual father.
And they comforted him and said unto him, “Be strong in the Lord,
and rejoice in the everlasting joy which God hath prepared.
Be thou ready, for we will come to thee at dawn on the First Day of
the week, and we will take thee with us into everlasting life, even as God
hath commanded”; and they blessed him and disappeared.
On the day of the Eve of the Sabbath Saint Abba John sent his
attendant to the village, for he was sick with a little sickness.
And when it was the time of cock-crow on the night of the holy
First Day of the week, behold there came unto him many hosts of angels,
and all the company of the saints, and when he saw them he rejoiced and
bowed low and delivered up his soul into the hand of God.
And the holy angels received the soul of the blessed Abba John, and
they took it up with them into heaven.
And at that moment his attendant came, and he saw his soul as they
were carrying it up into heaven, and the holy angels were surrounding it,
and were singing before it. And
before all these, as it was shining brightly like the sun, one sang and
praised the blessed man Abba John. And
he stood still for the space of an hour as he marveled at what he saw.
And straightway the angel of the Lord came unto him and told him
the names of each one of the saints, and pointing with his finger at the
saints he said unto [the attendant of] Abba John, “This is Abba
Pachomius, this is Abba Macarius, this is Abba Bamoy, and this is Abba
So-and-so.” And the
attendant said unto the angel, “Who is this in front of them who is
shining like the sun?” And
the angel said unto him, “This is Abba Anthony, the father of all the
monks.” When the attendant
came to the cell he found Abba John on his knees, and he wept over him
with a great weeping. And he
made haste and went to the village, and told the men how that the saint
was dead. Then the brethren
came and made him ready for burial, and they bore away his body with great
honor, and when they had brought him into the village, great wonders and
miracles happened through his body. And then his sons, the monks, came and took up his body and
they carried it to the desert of Scete and laid it in the church thereof,
and it became a haven for everyone who took refuge therein. Salutation to Abba John.
And on this day also died Saint Elisa the prophet, whose name
being interpreted is “Savior, protector and king.” This holy man was native of a village the name of which was
Be’Elamon, of the tribe of Isaachar, and he prophesied many prophecies
concerning the children of Israel. And
he also prophesied saying, “God shall come down upon the earth and shall
walk with men.” And he gave
a sign of this, saying, “The sun shall set in Selom (Silo), and one of
its two halves shall be separated from the other, and twelve oak trees
shall be useful to the Lord, and submissive to the holy God, Who shall
come down upon the earth, and by it the whole earth shall be saved.”
When he finished his prophecy he died in peace and was buried in
his own land. Salutation to
Elisa the prophet who made the bitter water sweet and raised the axe out
of the water by means of a splinter of wood.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.