Monthly Archives: November 2015

Saint Nilus the Faster, of Sinai +451

Saint Nilus the Ascetic

 

Saint Nilus was born in Constantinople.    He lived during the fifth century and was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom.    Having received a fine education, the saint was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital while still a young man.   During this time, Saint Nilus was married and had children, but the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple.    Saint John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings.    The spouses decided to separate and devote themselves to the monastic life.

The wife and daughter of Saint Nilus went to one of the women’s monasteries in Egypt, and Saint Nilus and his son Theodulus went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands.    For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of St Nilus. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint.

Saint Nilus wrote many soul-profiting works to guide Christians on the path of salvation.    In one of his letters there is an angry denunciation of the emperor Arcadius, who had exiled Saint John Chrysostom.    The ascetic works of the venerable Nilus are widely known: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox in content, and are clear and lucid in expression.    His Ascetic Discourse is found in Volume I of the English PHILOKALIA.

Saint Nilus suffered many misfortunes in the wilderness. Once, Saracens captured his son Theodulus, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods.    Through the prayers of the saint the Lord saved Theodulus, and his father found him with the Bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians.   This bishop ordained both of them as presbyters.    After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they lived as ascetics together until the death of Saint Nilus.

 

Some sayings of Saint Nilus:

“Pray firstly to be purified of passions, secondly to be freed from ignorance and forgetfulness, and thirdly to be delivered from all temptation and forsaking.”

“He who endures distress, will be granted joys; and he who bears with unpleasant things, will not be deprived of the pleasant.”

“Prayer frees the mind of all thought of the sensory and raises it to God Himself, Who is above all, to converse with Him and daringly ask Him for anything. Thus a man spends his life in purity, as one who, having already experienced communion with God, is thereupon again preparing for this communion.”

“Why do demons wish to excite in us gluttony, fornication, greed, anger, rancor and other passions? So that the mind, under their weight, should be unable to pray as it ought; for when the passions of our irrational part begin to act, they prevent the mind from acting rationally.”

The Prophecy of Saint Nilus

The Plight of the World and the Church during the 20th Century

By SAINT NILUS (d. circa AD 430)

After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the Advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable.

People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the Antichrist. There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, bishops, and priests will become vain men, completely failing to distinguish the right-hand way from the left.

At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and of the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society.

At that future time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in Holy Baptism and equally of remorse. The Churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. Then they will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of lightening their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints.

And all this will result from the fact that the Antichrist wants to be Lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation with another from one end of the earth to the other.

At that time men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is deceit of the Antichrist.

And, the impious one!—he will so complete science with vanity that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God in three hypostases. Then the All-good God will see the downfall of the human race and will shorten the days for the sake of those few who are being saved, because the enemy wants to lead even the chosen into temptation, if that is possible… then the sword of chastisement will suddenly appear and kill the perverter and his servants.

External links

 

Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria

Saint John the Merciful

 

“Saint John the Merciful was born on Cyprus during the 7th century into the family of the illustrious dignitary Epiphanius.   His parents wanted him to marry, so he was obedient to them.    He then married, and he and his wife  had children.    When his wife died, he became a monk.   He was zealous in fasting and prayer, and had great love for those around him.

Saint John was very much honored among men because of his spiritual exploits, and even the emperor revered him.    When the Patriarchal throne of Alexandria fell vacant, the emperor Heraclius and all the clergy begged St John to become the next Patriarch.

He worthily assumed his archpastoral service, concerning himself with the moral and dogmatic welfare of his flock.    As patriarch he denounced every soul-destroying heresy, and drove out from Alexandria the Monophysite Phyllonos of Antioch.

Saint John considered his chief task to be charitable and to give help all those in need.   At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered his stewards to compile a list of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men.   The saint ordered that all of these unfortunates be provided for each day out of the church’s treasury.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need.   He settled quarrels, helped the wronged, and distributed alms.   Three times a week he visited the sick-houses, and rendered assistance to the suffering.   It was during this period that the emperor Heraclius led a tremendous army against the Persian emperor Chosroes II.   The Persians ravaged and burned Jerusalem, taking a multitude of captives.   The holy Patriarch John gave a large portion of the church treasury for their ransom.

Saint John never turned his back on anyone.    One day, when the saint was visiting the sick, he met a beggar and commanded that he be given six silver coins.   The beggar changed his clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch, and again asked for alms.   Saint John gave him six more silver coins.   When, however, the beggar sought charity a third time, and the servants began to chase the fellow away, the Patriarch ordered that he be given twelve pieces of silver, saying, “Perhaps he is Christ putting me to the test.”   Twice the saint gave money to a merchant that had suffered shipwreck, and a third time gave him a ship belonging to the Patriarchate and filled with grain, with which the merchant had a successful journey and repaid his obligations.

Saint John was known for his gentle attitude towards people.   Once, the saint was compelled to excommunicate two clergymen for a certain time because of some offense.   One of them repented, but the other fellow became angry with the Patriarch and fell into greater sins.   The saint wanted to summon him and calm him with kind words, but it slipped his mind.   When he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the saint was suddenly reminded by the words of the Gospel: if you bring your gift to the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar … first, be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Mt. 5:23-24).   The saint came out of the altar, called the offending clergyman to him, and falling down on his knees before him in front of all the people he asked forgiveness.   The cleric, filled with remorse, repented of his sin, corrected himself, and afterwards was found worthy to be ordained to the priesthood.

One day someone had insulted George, the Patriarch’s nephew.    George asked the saint to avenge the wrong.    The saint promised to deal with the offender so that all of Alexandria would marvel at what he had done.    This calmed George, and Saint  John began to instruct him, speaking of the necessity for meekness and humility.    Then he summoned the man who insulted George. When Saint John learned that the man lived in a house owned by the church, he declared that he would excuse him from paying rent for an entire year.    Alexandria indeed was amazed by such a “revenge,” and George learned from his uncle how to forgive offenses and to bear insults for God’s sake.

Saint  John who was a very  strict ascetic and man of prayer, was always mindful of his soul, and always remembered death.    He ordered a coffin for himself, but told the craftsmen not to finish it.   Instead, he would have them come each feastday and ask if it was time to finish the work.

St John was asked by the governor Nicetas to go with him on a visit to the emperor in Constantinople.     While on his way to visit the earthly king, he dreamed of a resplendent man who said to him, “The King of Kings summons you.”    He sailed to his native island of Cyprus, and died at Amanthos, the saint peacefully fell asleep in the Lord (616-620).”

 

Just before the repose of Saint John, outside of what is today the town of Lemeso in Cyprus (which holds St. John as its Patron Saint) he wrote his will.   It is short but very  moving.

“I thank You, my Lord and God, for you made me worthy to give back the gifts which You gave me. I thank You, for you also heard my prayer and my work now that I am dying is none other than “a third coin”*, which I order to be given to my poor brothers. When by the grace of God I became bishop of Alexandria, I found in the treasury of my bishopric about 8,000 liters of gold. With the greatly gracious offerings of good-loving men, I established to gather [and distribute] an uncountable amount. All of which, which I knew, is a gift of Christ the king of all, which I returned with assiduity and care towards God, to whom they also belong. To Him I also now commend my soul.”

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone                                                                                            In patiently enduring, you obtained your reward, O venerable father. You persevered in your prayers without ceasing; and you loved the impoverished and you satisfied them. We entreat you, intercede with Christ God, O blessed John the Merciful, for the salvation of our souls.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thy riches and wealth didst thou disperse unto the poor; thou now hast received the Heavens’ riches in return. For this cause, O all-wise John, we all honour thee with our songs of praise as we keep thy memorial, O namesake of almsgiving and of mercy.

 

 

Saint Martin of ToursSt.  Martin of Tours
Today the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates
Saint Martin the Merciful the Bishop of Tours
Nov 12/25

Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, was born at Sabaria in Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 316. Since his father was a Roman officer, he also was obliged to serve in the army. Martin did so unwillingly, for he considered himself a soldier of Christ, though he was still a catechumen.

At the gates of Amiens, he saw a beggar shivering in the severe winter cold, so he cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the saint wearing Martin’s cloak. He heard the Savior say to the angels surrounding Him, “Martin is only a catechumen, but he has clothed Me with this garment.” The saint was baptized soon after this, and reluctantly remained in the army.

Two years later, the barbarians invaded Gaul and Martin asked permission to resign his commission for religious reasons. The commander charged him with cowardice. St Martin demonstrated his courage by offering to stand unarmed in the front line of battle, trusting in the power of the Cross to protect him. The next day, the barbarians surrendered without a fight, and Martin was allowed to leave the army.

He traveled to various places during the next few years, spending some time as a hermit on an island off Italy. He became friendly with St Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (January 14), who made Matrin an exorcist. After several years of the ascetic life, St Martin was chosen to be Bishop of Tours in 371. As bishop, St Martin did not give up his monastic life, and the place where he settled outside Tours became a monastery. In fact, he is regarded as the founder of monasticism in France. He conversed with angels, and had visions of Saint Peter and SAint Paul (June 29) and of other saints. He is called the Merciful because of his generosity and care for the poor, and he received the grace to work miracles.

After a life of devoted service to Christ and His Church, the saint fell ill at Candes, a village in his diocese, where he died on November 8, 397. He was buried three days later (his present Feast) at Tours. During the Middle Ages, many Western churches were dedicated to St Martin, including St Martin’s in Canterbury, and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

In 1008, a cathedral was built at Tours over the relics of St Martin. This cathedral was destroyed in 1793 during the French Revolution, together with the relics of St Martin and St Gregory of Tours (November 17). A new cathedral was built on the site many years later. Some fragments of the relics of St Martin were recovered and placed in the cathedral, but nothing remains of St Gregory’s relics.

Dismissal Hymn of Saint Martin. Fourth Tone
Be quick to anticipate

In signs and in miracles thou wast renowned throughout Gaul; * by grace and adoption now thou art a light for the world, O Martin, most blest of God. * Almsdeeds and compassion filled thy life with their splendour; * teaching and wise counsel were thy riches and treasures, * which thou dost dispense freely unto all them that honour thee.

Kontakion of Saint Martin. Plagal of Fourth Tone
As first-fruits of our nature

As a devoted man of God, thou didst proclaim His mysteries. * And as a seer of the Trinity, thou didst shed thy blessings on the Occident. * By thy prayers and entreaties, * O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, * preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise thy memory. See More

Saint Fursey, Bishop in Ireland, Missionary in East Anglia, founder of Monasteries in France.

Saint Fursey Abbot of Ireland

“The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints” (Saint Arsenios of Paros †1877)

Saint Fursa (Fursey), a saint famous not only for his missionary labours in England and France but also for his visions of the afterlife. His Feast Day is Jan 16.

Saint Fursey – (+650), of Peronne in France, was an Irishman of noble birth. His father was Fintan, son of Finlogh, a chieftain of South Munster; his mother, Gelges, was daughter of Aedh Finn of the Hui Briuin of Connaught. Saint Fursey was born somewhere among the Hui Briuin, and baptised by St. Brendan the Traveller. His parents having returned to Munster, the child was brought up there, and from his boyhood he gave his attention to the reading of the Holy Scriptures and monastic discipline. He studied on the island of Inisquin in Lough Corrib, under abbot Saint Meldanr called his ‘ soul-friend. He later built a monastery for himself at a place called Rathmat, which appears to be Killursa (Fursey’s Church), in the north-west of the county of Clare.

Saint Fursey's church

One day Saint Fursey traveled to Munster to visit his relatives. After he arrived he had the first of several remarkable cataleptic seizures, during which he had visions of bright angels, who raised him on their wings, and soothed him by hymns. In one vision famine and plagues were foretold. This evidently refers to the second visitation of the plague known as the Buidhe Connaill, ‘the yellow or straw coloured plague,’ which visited Ireland about fourteen years after Saint Fursey’s death. Deeply impressed by them, Saint Fursey travelled through Ireland, proclaiming what he had heard. At Cork he had a vision of a golden ladder set up at the tomb of St. Finn Barr and reaching to heaven, by which souls were ascending.

For ten years, in accordance with angelic directions, Saint Fursey continued ‘to preach the word of God without respect of persons, for 10 years. In the notes on the ‘Calendar of Oengus’ a strange story is told of his exchanging diseases with St. Maignen of Kilmainham. To avoid admiring crowds and jealousy, Saint Fursey went away with a few brethren to a small island in the sea, and shortly after, with his brothers Foillan and Ultan, he passed through Britain (Wales), and arrived at East Anglia, where he was hospitably received by King Sigebert.

The Venerable Bede records the Saint’s arrival, in his works:

Whilst Sigbert still governed the kingdom, there came out of Ireland a holy man called Fursey. renowned both for his words and actions, and remarkable for singular virtues, being desirous to live as a stranger and pilgrim for the Lord’s sake, wherever an opportunity should otter. On coming into the province of the East Angles, he was honorably received by the aforesaid king, and performing his wonted task of preaching the Gospel, by the example of his virtue and the influence of his words, converted many unbelievers to Christ, and confirmed in the faith and love of Christ those that already believed. Here he fell into some infirmity of body, and was thought worthy to see a vision of angels; in which he was admonished diligently to persevere in the ministry of the Word which he had undertaken, and indefatigably to apply himself to his usual watching and prayers; inasmuch as his end was certain, but the hour thereof uncertain, according to the saying of our Lord, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour. ” Being confirmed by this vision, he set himself with all speed to build a monastery on the ground which had been given him by King Sigbert, and to establish a rule of life therein. This monastery was pleasantly situated in the woods, near the sea; it was built within the area of a fort, which in the English language is called Cnobheresburg, that is, Cnobhere’s Town. Anna, king of that province, and certain of the nobles, embellished it with more stately buildings and with gifts. This man was of noble Scottish blood, but much more noble in mind than in birth. From his boyish years, he had earnestly applied himself to reading sacred books and observing monastic discipline, and, as is most fitting for holy men, he carefully practiced all that he learned to be right. Now, in course of time he himself built a monastery, wherein he might with more freedom devote himself to his heavenly studies.
After another vision – twelve years since his last one – he hastened to build the monastery Cnoberesburg or Burghcastle, in Suffolk, on land granted by the king. Then, committing it to the charge of Goban and Dichull, he went away to his brother Ultan, with whom he lived as a hermit for a year.

Because of the disturbed state of the country he had to go to France and take refuge with Clovis, king of Neustria. The king being a child, the government was in the hands of Erchinoald, mayor of the palace, who gave him land at Latiniacum, now Lagny, on the Marne, six leagues from Paris. Here he erected a monastery in 644. According to the account in the ‘ Codex Salmanticensis,’ it was when travelling- with Clovis and Erchinoald that his last illness came on. He died on 16 Jan. in 650, at Macerias, now Mazeroeles. He was buried at Peronne, in the church built by Erchinoald, and with this place his name has since been associated. He was reputed to have performed miracles in his life-time, and even his pastoral staff, if sent to a sick person, was supposed to have a healing power. The brethren whom he took with him formed the nucleus of an Irish monastery, and the succession appears to have been kept up by emissaries from Ireland, as we read in the ‘Annals of the Four Masters’ at 774, that ‘Moenan, son of Cormac, abbot of Cathair Fursa (the city of Fursa, i.e. Peronne) in France, died.’

Saint Fursey’s visions were placed on record soon after his death in ‘the little book’ to which Baeda refers, and which Mabillon considers to be the life published by Surius at 16 Jan. Baeda describes the agitation of a monk who, when describing what he heard from Fursey’s lips, though it was the severest season of the year, and he was thinly clad, broke out into a profuse perspiration from mere terror.

[Codex Salmanticensis, p. 77 (London, 1883); Bedae Eccl. Hist. lib. iii. cap. 19; Lanigan's Eccl. Hist. ii. 448-64; Annals of the Four Masters, A.D. 774 ; Calendar of Oengus, p. xxxv; Dr. Todd's St. Patrick, p. 406.] T. 0.

L. Stephen, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XX (1889), 333-334

St. Fursey Abbot of Ireland

THE VISION OF SAINT FURSEY

Saint Fursey of Ireland was given the following experience by God about the events of the particular judgment; St. Fursey died on a journey and was brought back to life. The following is taken fromBarneval’s translation:

He was sick; his strength was exhausted; his life was despaired of. Leaning painfully on another’s arm, he went out, took a few steps outside of the house and began the evening office. All absorbed in prayer, he was murmuring psalmody, when he felt himself enveloped in darkness; his feet refused to proceed; he was brought back for dead.

After he felt himself enveloped in darkness, he beheld four hands stretched towards him from above, and take him by the arm; and hovering above four wings white as snow. He desired perfectly the hands and the wings; the rest of the bodies of the angels he could see but dimly. When they reached a certain height, he distinguished their heavenly countenances, shining with wonderful radiance; but in this splendor he perceived no corporeal form. Before him, too, he perceived a third angel, all glittering, armed with a white buckler, and a sword like a flash of lightning. The splendor which they diffused, the harmonious beatings of their wings, the melody of their chant, the divine beauty of their look, filled his soul with indescribable sweetness; for they chanted, the first intoning, the others taking it up: “The saints shall go from virtue to virtue; the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.” And the chant rose, then descended to the end. He heard also an unknown hymn chanted by thousands of angelic voices, but he could distinguish only one verse: “They shall go forth to meet Christ.” All these celestial countenances seemed to him alike; but the light was so brilliant that the corporeal form was hidden from his eyes.

Fain would he have remained in the world whose splendor and harmony he enjoyed; but he was to accomplish his human trial, and the angels brought him back; and his soul, ravished by their chants, knew not how it had returned to its prison.

Meanwhile the night had passed, and the cock was crowing. He heard no more the voices of heaven; he heard human voices groaning and lamenting. At that moment those who surrounded his body uncovered his face; a slight flush tinged his pallid cheeks and the man of God, addressing them, said, “Why do you cry and make this noise?” Then they told him all that had happened, how he had died the evening before, and how they had remained all night long watching beside his lifeless corpse. He arose; the sweetness and splendor of the angels returned to his mind, and remembering their promise to return, he regretted that no wise man was night to whom he could confide what he had seen. In order that the angels, on their return, might not find him unprepared, he asked and received the Body and Blood of the Spotless Lamb. Thus he remained that day and the next in great debility; but in the middle of the night, about the hour of Terce, as his relatives, his friends, and many of the neighbors were there to see him, the shades came upon him; his feet grew cold and stiff; he stretched out his hands in the attitude of prayer, feeling with joy the approach of death; for he remembered the delightful vision which had already been once announced to him by similar signs. He fell back on his bed, overcome by sleep, and he heard the frightful clamors, as it were a great multitude calling upon him to come forth. But opening his eyes his saw only the three angels standing beside him; the noise and the sight of men vanished; he already enjoyed the concerts and beauty of the angels. The one on his right hand said, “Fear not; thou shalt find a defense.”

They bore him off; the roof of his dwelling disappeared beneath his eyes. He passed through the howls and yells of the demons, and he heard one of them say, “Let us go and join battle before his eyes.” On his left he saw a dark whirlwind, where horrible countenance writhed, and ranged themselves in battle before him; for as far as he could see, the bodies of the demons were black and frightful, inspiring horror with their long, disproportioned necks, their wretched emaciation, their large, round, deformed heads. When they flew or fought, he saw only an undefined, sinister shadow. Who but knows the frightful forms that the unclean spirits can assume to terrify a soul? Moreover, their features were hidden from him by the dense darkness, as those of the angels by the intense light.

The demons fought, darting fiery arrows; but these were extinguished against the heavenly buckler, and the enemies fell before the face of the armed angel. Yet he would reason with them, saying, “Arrest not our steps, for this man has no part in your perdition.” But the adversary protested, and said, blaspheming, that God was unjust in permitting sinners to escape damnation when it is written, “Not only those who do evil, but those who agree with them that do evil, are worthy of death.” And the angel contended, and the holy man thought that the noise of the combat and the clamors of the demons were heard all over the world.
Satan, overcome, like a crushed serpent, lifted up his venomous head and said, “He has often held idle discourse, and he cannot without expiation enjoy bliss.”

The Angel replied, “If thou findest no capital accusations he shall not perish for such slight faults.”

Then the old accuser said, “If you forgive not one another, my heavenly Father will not forgive you.”

The Angel replied, “When has he done vengeance, or whom has he injured?”

The devil said, “It is not written, “If you take vengeance,” but, ‘Unless you forgive from your hearts.’ ”

The Angel replied, “Pardon was in his heart; there he kept it following human custom.”

The demon said, “As he has received the sin from human custom, so shall he receive chastisement from the supernal Judge!”

“Well,” replied the angel, “we will judge him before the Lord.” Thrice overcome, the enemy had not exhausted his viperous venom; he rejoiced: “If God is just, this man shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; for it is written, ‘Unless you become like little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ This man has not accomplished this word.” “We will judge him before the Lord,” repeated the angel; and he combated, and his adversaries were crushed.

Then the angel who stood at Saint Fursey’s right said to him, “Behold the world.” The man of God looked, and he saw beneath him a darksome valley; and he saw, too, four fires, separated from each other by regular distances. “What are these fires?” asked the angel. As he did not know, the angel said, “These four fires gnaw away the world, although all sins have been effaced in baptism, by confessing Christ, and renouncing Satan, his works and pomps. The first is falsehood; for men fulfill not the promises made in baptism to renounce Satan and all his works. The second is cupidity; for they put the goods of this world before the love of heavenly things. The third is dissension; for they fear not, even without reason, to offend their neighbor’s soul. The fourth is impiety; for they esteem it as nothing to deceive and strip the weak.”

And the fires spread; they formed one conflagration, and it approached. The saint in fear said to the angel, “See! the fire is coming upon me.” The angel replied, “Thou has not kindled it; thous shalt not be consumed in it. Great and terrible as it is, it measures its ardor by each one’s faults; for in it all iniquity shall be consumed; and as the body is consumed by evil desires, so shall the soul be burned by a just expiation.” The saint then beheld the angels advance and divide the fire, which formed two walls, and on each side his two angels protected him.

In the very midst of the flames unclean spirits flew about; they took arms, and a new battle was joined.

One of them said, “The servant that knoweth his master’s will and doeth it not, does he not deserve to be beaten?”

“And wherein,” replied the angel, “has this man failed to accomplish the orders of his Lord?”

“He has,” says Satan, “accepted the gifts of the wicked.”

“He has thought, ” observed the angel, “that they had done penance.”
“He should have tried their perseverance in penance,” said the demons, “and then taken their gifts; for presents blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the just.”

The angel replied, “We will judge him before God.”

The great deceiver, seeing himself baffled, burst forth in blasphemies against his Creator. “Till now,” he cried, “we have believed God truthful!”
“Well ?” asked the angel.

“The prophet Isaias,” continued the insolent spirit, “has promised that the fault not purged on earth shall be purged in heaven, when he cried to the Jews, ‘If you will hearken to me, you shall bear the fruits of the earth; but if you will not, and provoke my wrath, you shall be devoured by the sword.’ Now this man has not purged his faults on earth, and receives no punishment here; where then is God’s justice?”

But the indignant angel cried out, “Blaspheme not, for thou knowest nought of God’s secret judgments.”

And Satan said, “What is secret here?”

“As long as penance may be expected,” said the angel, “the Divine Mercy does not forsake the creature.”

“But,” objected Satan, “there is not time here for penance.”

“Perhaps there is,” observed the angel; “thou knowest not the depths of the Divine Mysteries.”

The demon closed, saying, “Let us go; there is no judgment here!”

But another continued: “There is still a narrow door which few pass, and there we can wait. It is written, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ ”

The Angel replied, “This man has done good to his neighbor.”

“It is not enough,” rejoined the enemy, “to do good, unless he loves his neighbor as himself.”

“To do good,” retorted the angel, “is the fruit of charity, and God will render to every man according to his works.”

But the devil persisted: “His charity has not fulfilled the precept; he must be damned!”

Then the accursed troop combated, but the angels triumphed.
Six times vanquished, the devil, according to his wont, burst forth into blasphemies. “If God is not unjust, if falsehood displeases him, and disregard of his word, this man shall not be exempt from torment; for he promised to renounce the world, yet loved the world, contrary to the order of the apostle, who says, ‘Love not the world, nor the things of the world.’ Now, this man was withheld neither by his own promise nor by the injunctions of the apostle.”

To which the holy angel replied, “Not for himself did he love the things of the world, but to distribute them to the needy.”

“No matter how a man loves them,” persisted the frightful spirit, “if he loves them, he violates God’s law and his Christian engagement in baptism.”

The Angels triumphed; their enemies succumbed; but the devil still had recourse to insidious accusations. ” ‘Unless you declare to the perverse their perversity, I will seek in your hands the trace of their blood.’ So it is written. This man has not, as in duty bound, preached penance to sinners.”

“It is written,” replied the angel, “in those times, the wise man shall be silent for these times are bad. When the hearers despise the word, the tongue of the master is tied.”

But the old accuser said, “Yet he should speak till he suffered and died; he can neither consent nor be silent.”

Thus did the demons fiercely dispute and combat, until by God’s judgment the angels gained the victory, and their enemies were overthrown and prostrated.

Then around the saint spread an immense brightness, and the angels and the elect chanted, “Pain and length of time are nought when an eternity of glory is gained.” Saint Fursey was inundated with sweetness and joy, and raising his eyes, he saw great radiant multitudes; their dazzling wings flashed in space. They came to him and surrounded him, and the trouble, the terror inspired by the fires and the demons, were banished afar. To his eyes appeared two venerable men whom he had known in the country of his birth, and he thought that they were dead. Approaching, they told their names–Bevan and Meldan; and they conversed familiarly with him.

At that moment, in heaven’s calm depths opened an ethereal door; two angels entered; around them gushed with new force the Divine Light, and the pure spirits were heard chanting in four choirs, “Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God of Sabbaoth.” And as his soul was intoxicated with the inexpressible delight, the ravishing canticles of heaven, the angels grouped on his right and his left; and the one on his right asked him whether he knew where these transports of joy took place; and as he knew not the angel told him, “It is in the assembly on high, to which we belong.”

Meanwhile the melody became ever more clear and more penetrating, and Saint Fursey thought that they were chanting for him. He said to the angel, “It is a great joy to hear such concerts.” “It is a joy,” replied the heavenly spirits, “of which we are often deprived for the service of men; and even then the devil undoes our work by corrupting man’s heart. In this kingdom of peace and purity,” he added, ” no judgment is pronounced except on human wickedness.” But Saint Fursey’s soul was absorbed in the joy and delights of heaven.

But lo, from the invisible city came forth, luminous as angels, Meldan and Bevan; and coming to Saint Fursey, they had him return to his mortal life. In silence and with a troubled heart did he receive this order; and as the angels bore him away, the two saints said, “What fearest thou? Thy toil is but a day’s journey. Preach and announce to all that judgment is at hand.” Saint Fursey interrogating them as to the end of the world, they replied that it had not come, although it was not far off; that famine and disease would ravage the human race, and that a sign should be seen in the sun.
Bevan spoke long to the holy man, revealing to him that God’s wrath was suspended over the nations, but that it menaced especially their princes and doctors. In grave words, worthy of the Gospel and Heaven, he gave him wholesome advice and priceless instructions, which Saint Fursey was to transmit to Ireland. “Go, then,” he said at last, “proclaim to her princes that they must leave iniquity, do penance, and work out their salvation. Declare to the princes of the Church that God is jealous when they prefer the world to Him, and that it is serving the world to neglect the care of souls.”

Then the blessed company that attended him departed,and he remained alone with the three angels. They were soon near the great fire; and the angel, as on the first occasion, went before, clearing the way, dividing the flame right and left; but lo, from the midst of the furnace a human face, a man hurled by the demons, struck the saint’s shoulder, and cheek touched cheek. Saint Fursey felt his shoulder and cheek burn, and he saw that it was a man who on his death bed had left him a garment. The angel seized the damned one, and hurled him into the flames. But the spirit of malice cried, “Why repulse him who thou didst welcome? Thou didst share his goods: share his torment.” “It was not through avarice,” replied the angel, “that he accepted his present, but to save his soul.” The fire ceased. Yet the angel said to Saint Fursey, “The fire that thou hadst kindled has burned thee; if thou hadst not receive the clothes of this man dying in his sin, thou wouldest not have felt in thy body the fire of his torture.” And he too exhorted him to preach penance to men.

Saint Fursey found himself above his dwelling; but he recognized neither the house nor the crowd of persons lamenting, nor his garments, nor his body; and when the angel had him resume his mortal tabernacle, he feared to approach it, not recognizing the corpse. “Away with this fear,” said the angel; “even in it thou canst preserve thee from weakness and evils; thou hast just now triumphed over the assaults of the evil one; he shall not more prevail against thee.” At the same time, looking at his body, the breast opened as if to receive his soul, and the angel’s last words were, “Let pure water be poured over they limbs, and thou shalt feel no pain but that of the fire that has touched thee. Do good; till the end we will follow thy steps, and thus we shall receive thee amongst us.”
Issuing from the profound repose of death, he sat up, and beheld the multitude of his kindred, neighbors, and ecclesiastics, who surrounded him. Then he groaned over the greatness of human folly; and thinking how difficult and dangerous a passage death is, how divine the reward of those who reach the blissful abode, he revealed in order all that he had seen. He ordered pure water to be poured over him, and the print that that damned one had left became visible. The body, strange to declare, bore the mark of the pain that the soul alone had undergone.

Then leaving his house, he preached the word of God, and announcing to all the people what he had seen and heard. Grace was incomparable in him–disengaged from earth, giving himself to all, to prelates and the faithful, to nobles and kings, amiable to the good, terrible to the wicked; and the power of miracles was also in him.

 

Saint Cybi, Abbot of Cornwall and Wales +550

Saint Cybi the tawny and Saint Seiriol the fair

 

“The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints” (Saint Arsenios of Paros †1877)

Today the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates:
Saint Cybi Felyn, Abbot of Cornwall and Wales
(c. AD 483-555)
Feast Day Nov 5/18

Prince Cybi the Tawny was born around AD 485 in the Callington region of Cornwall. He had a fine education and took a keen interest in Christianity even in his youth. At the age of 27, he made pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem and eventually became a priest, being consecrated bishop by the Bishop of Poitiers. On returning home, he found that his father, King Salom, had died and he was nominally the monarch of his country. But Saint Cybi had set his heart on a life dedicated to God and so, when he was formally offered the Cornish throne, he politely refused and Cornwall once more became united with Dumnonia.

Saint Cybi then began to travel the Celtic World. He founded churches at Duloe, Tregony, Cubert and Landulph in Cornwall. He later crossed the Bristol Channel to Edeligion in South-East Wales, with several followers (including Saint Cyngar of Llangefni). The local King, Edelig, did not welcome them at first. Eventually, however, the monarch was brought round and gave the Cornishman two churches at Llangybi-upon-Usk and Llanddyfrwyr-yn-Edeligion. Cybi then moved on to Ireland (staying with his cousin, St. Dewi (David) at Mynyw (St. Davids) en route). He settled on the Island of Aran Mor where the Irish came to know him as St. Mo-Chop. After Aran, Cybi and his followers moved to Meath and then Mochop, but each time they were hounded by a local presbyter. So, Cybi sailed for Wales once more.

Saint Cybi landed on the Lleyn Peninsula and lived for a while at Llangibi near Pwllheli. Here the local King, Maelgwn Gwynedd, came across him while out hunting a certain goat. Saint Cybi used his kindness to pacify the King’s anger at finding an unapproved Christian community in his kingdom, and even persuaded him to give the saint one of his palaces, at what became Caer-Gybi on Ynys-Gybi. Saint Cybi and his followers settled here and established a thriving monastery. The Cornishman became a firm friend of Saint Seiriol who lived on the opposite side of Ynys Mon (Anglesey), and the two would often meet up for prayers at the Clorach Wells in Llandyfrydog in the center of the island. This journey, with his face to the sun, allowed Saint Cybi to nurture a tan. Hence his epithet of ‘Felyn’.

Saint Cybi attended the Synod of Llandewi Brefi in AD 545, where his advice was sought by a number of priests hoping to make a pilgrimage to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). The men were worried about Saxon pirates, but the saint persuaded them that if their faith was strong enough they had nothing to fear (how very timely). While in Dyfed, Saint Cybi founded the Church of Llangybi near Lampeter. He died on 5th November AD 555 and was buried on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey).

 

St. Seiriol Gwyn
(Born c.AD 494)

Saint Seiriol the Fair was a younger brother of Kings Cynlas of Rhos and Einion of Lleyn. He entered the religious life and lived in a small hermitage on the Eastern Peninsula of Ynys Mon (Anglesey). His two ruling brothers later decided this humble residence was far too lowly for their Royal brother and founded an important monastery around his cell. Thus, Seiriol became the first Abbot of Penmon Priory. His hermitage and holy-well can still be seen there today.

Saint Seiriol became a very good friend of Saint Cybi who lived at Caer-Gybi on Ynys Cybi (Holy Island) on the far side of Ynys Mon (Anglesey). The two would often walk several miles to meet up for prayers at the Clorach Wells in Llandyfrydog in the center of the island. This journey with his back to the sun allowed Saint Seiriol’s complexion to remain so fair that he was given the epithet of “Gwyn”.

When Saint Seiriol was of old age, he retired to Ynys Lannog (Priestholm), just off the coast from Penmon. It became known as Ynys Seiriol in his honour, though it is now better known as Puffin Island.