Saint Antony the Great
On this day we celebrate the memory of our venerable father Antony the great.
This great father of ours Antony came from Egypt. His father and mother taught him the Christian faith. He lived during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian and even reached the time of the pious king Constantine the great (318 AD). He dedicated himself to the ascetic life and surpassed all the ascetics and the saints of his time by far, becoming known to all who lived after him as an example and type of asceticism.
It is wondrous to relate how he was the first together with very few to lead this ascetic and angelic life, which is above and beyond man to live, and how he was almost the only one to reach the farthest end of this kind of life. But, having to be brief, we cannot relate all those stories which are known among many about this Antony.
We can only say that this great father, while still in his mortal body, was often caught in spirit out of his body and could see the souls ascending when they were departing from people's bodies. He could also see that some people's souls could ascend above the demons, who were trying to catch them, but, alas, some other people's souls were caught by them and were taken down into a deep abyss, which is, of course, a characteristic of the spiritual and incorporeal nature. Having lived for a hundred and five years he departed to the Lord in 366.
Departure of St. Abraam, Companion of St. Gawarga
On this day, we commemorate the departure of St. Abraam the companion of St. Gawarga.
His father was a pious man who was kind to the poor. He was entrusted to look after the treasury of his village as well as that of the neighboring villages, because of his piety and good nature. Egypt was hit by a famine and he gave all he had to the poor.
As for St. Abraam`s mother, she lived in the fear of God, so she was envied by Satan who provoked an evil man against her and she was kidnapped and taken to Persia. During her captivity she had a vision in which she was told of her return to Egypt. Shortly thereafter, the vision was fulfilled and she returned back to Egypt safely.
After her husband's death she wanted her son to get married but as he told her of his desire for the monastic life she was overjoyed. When she bid him farewell at the outskirts of the town she lifted up her arms toward heaven and said, "Please Lord, accept him from me as a holy sacrifice." St. Abraam went to the wilderness of Sheheat (Scetis) where he was ordained a monk and became a disciple of S. Youanis the priest of the wilderness.
St. Abraam led an extremely disciplined monastic life, with long periods of fasting and long hours of worship. One morning the blessed saint saw that the roof of his cell had split and the Lord Jesus came down through it riding His heavenly chariot, and the Cherubim were praising him. Abba Abraam knelt down in great fear and the Lord blessed him. Then the Lord Jesus ascended back to heaven. The picture of that holy apparition was miraculously engraved on the ceiling of his cell and it is present to this very day. An angel of the Lord used to visit with Abba Abraam to comfort him.
One day St. Abraam had to go to Mount Orion where he met with St. Gawarga. He came back to the wilderness of Sheheat accompaning St. Gawerga. They lived in the same cell until they both departed to heaven.
After St. Yoanis departed, St. Abraam became ill for eighteen years. Before his departure, St. Abraam received Holy Communion and St. Youanis appeared to him in the spirit and told him that the Lord had prepared for him a heavenly banquet. St. Abraam departed in peace at the age of eighty.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.