Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople
Gregory's school mates in Athens included St. Basil the Great and Julian the Apostate. Gregory foretold, on several occasions, that Julian would one day persecute the church. Gregory was baptized after his education and became a monk with Basil. He later was ordained a priest to help his father who was the bishop of Nazianzos. Basil appointed him bishop of Sasima, but Emperor Theodosios called him to Constantinople to head the reorganization of the Orthodox church after Arianism ravaged it.. His theological writings on the Holy Trinity, those against the heretic Macedonios who taught that the Holy Spirit was created by God, against Apollinacios who taught that Jesus did not have a human soul, against Julian the Apostate, and against Arianism, gained him the title, the Theologian. When Gregory participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, convened to resolve differences among prelates, he was voted Patriarch of Constantinople. When he wearied of the personal attacks against him, he retired back to Nazianzos and wrote instructive books. He died peacefully at the age of 70.
Departure of two brothers Saints Maximus and Domatius
On this day, we commemorate the departure of the two honored saints Maximus and his brother Domatius.
They were the sons of Walendianus, one of the Roman Emperors who feared God and was steadfast in his faith. God gave him these two sons who were angelic in their purity and holiness, always praying and reading the Holy Books. When they realised that this world was only transitional and temporal, they decided to leave it and live a monastic life. They asked their father to allow them to travel to the City of Nicae, to pray in the place where the first Ecumenical Council was held in 325 A.D. Their father rejoiced, and he sent an entourage of soldiers and servants with them, as was the custom for the children of kings.
When they arrived, they asked the soldiers to go back to their father and tell him that they wanted to stay there for some time. Then they revealed their thoughts to a saintly monk for their desire to become monks. The monk did encourage them because he feared their father. He asked them to go Syria to see St. Agabius there.
They went to Syria and stayed with St. Agabius until his departure. Before his departure, he put on them the monastic garb, and told them that he saw St. Macarius in a vision at night saying to him, "Advise your two sons to come to me after you have passed away." He also said to them, "I desired to see St. Macarius in person, but I have seen him in the spirit. After I pass away, go to him".
Meanwhile, God granted Maximus and his brother Domatius the gift of healing and their reputation spread everywhere, especially among sea merchants and travellers. They also learned the trade of making the sails of the ships and were able to support themselves with money earned from their trade and they gave the rest to the poor and the needy.
One day, one of their father's stewards saw a sail of a ship on which was written the names, "Maximus and Domatius." When they asked the ship owner about these names, he said, "These are the names of two monk brothers, which I have written on my ship, a blessing, so that God may prosper my business." The owner of the ship described the two brothers, that one of them had a full beard and the other was without a beard.
The steward informed their father about what he had heard. So the father sent to them their mother and their sister. When they met the two saints, they cried a lot and wanted the two saints to go back to their father, but they refused.
After a while the Pope of Rome departed and they remembered Maximus, whom they wanted to ordain in his place. His father rejoiced when he heard that, but when the news arrived to Maximus and his brother they remembered the command of their spiritual father St. Agabius. They disguised themselves and went towards the Mediterranean Sea. Whenever they were thirsty and wanted to drink some water, God transformed the salty water to sweet water. At a certain point, they became tired of walking and their feet were bleeding, so they slept on a mountain. God sent them power that carried them to the wilderness of Sheheat (Scetis) where St. Macarius was residing. They informed him about their desire to live with him.
When St. Macarius realised that they came from a royal family, he thought that they might not be able to stand the wilderness with its harshness. They replied, "If we can not live here, we will return from where we came." He taught them how to plait palm leaves, he helped them to build a cell and he told them about someone who would take their crafts and bring them some food.
They lived in this manner for three years, never meeting anyone; they only went to church to partake of the Sacrament of Communion silently. St. Macarius was wondering why they had not visited him all these years and prayed to God to reveal their secret. He went to visit them in their cell and stayed the night there.
When he woke up at midnight, as was his custom to pray, he saw the two saints praying and a ray of light going from their mouths to heaven. The devils were all around them like flies, and the angel of the Lord standing with a sword of fire to protect them.
The next day, St. Macarius put on them the holy garb of the monks (Eskeem), and asked them to pray for him. They knelt to the ground before him (made metanias) and they were silent.
When they completed their course, St. Maximus became sick with a fever, and he sent for St. Macarius to come and visit him. When St. Macarius arrived he saw a crowd of prophets and saints, including St. John the Baptist and Emperor Constantine gathered around him until he gave up his pure soul. St. Macarius wept and said, "Blessed are you, Maximus".
St. Domatius his brother, was weeping bitterly, and asked St. Macarius to pray to Christ to take him also to be with his brother. After three days, he became sick and St. Macarius visited him. On his way to him, he saw the crowd of saints who carried his brother before, carrying the soul of St. Domatius up to heaven. When he came to his cell, he found that he had passed away. He put his body with his brother's, whose departure was on Tubah 14.
St. Macarius called the monastery after them, "El-Baramous," as it is known until today.
Departure of Abba Yusab, Bishop of Girga, known as El-Abbah
On this day also, the Church commemorates the departure of Abba Yusab, Bishop of Girga and Ekhmeem, known as "El-Abbah," who departed in 1826 A.D.
This great scholar and honourable father was born in the town of Nekhila in Upper Egypt. His parents were wealthy and they loved the poor. When he was 25 years old, his parents wanted him to get married, but he refused because of his inclination towards the monastic life.
He went to the estate of St. Antony's monastery in the city of Boash. He stayed there for some time, during which his humility and his righteousness were revealed. This convinced the abbot to send him to the monastery. When he arrived there, the monks received him with joy for they had heard about his virtues and his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. After a short time, they clothed him in the monk's tunic.
When the news concerning him went to Anba John, the 107th Pope of Alexandria, he called him and asked him to stay with him. After he saw for himself the righteousness and the knowledge of Abba Yusab, he counselled with the bishops who agreed to ordain him a bishop over Ekhmeem and Girga. He refrained from accepting this offer and was ordained against his will.
When he arrived at his diocese, he found many heretics among his people He built a church and made a great effort to teach them, to restore those who were lost, and guide the heretics in the faith. He wrote several articles on the Incarnation of Christ, explained several difficult issues, and cleared ambiguous verses in the Bible. He urged his people to forsake the bad customs they were engaged in, both inside and outside the church. He succeeded in putting an end to the quarrels and divisions from those who opposed the truth. He was merciful to the poor and never judged anyone by his appearance. He never accepted bribes. Whatever excess money he had, he sent to his brethren the monks in their monasteries. He did not own anything except the clothes that he puts on. He never uttered anything but the truth, and he was not afraid of the mighty rulers of the land. He shepherded his flock exceedingly well.
When God wanted to take him away from this world, he became sick. During his sickness, he stayed some times in his diocese and some times in the cell of Anba Peter, the 109th Pope of Alexandria.
Finally, he went to his monastery in the wilderness. The monks rejoiced to see him, and he passed away there at the age of 91 years. The first 25 years were his monastic life, 31 years in the monastery, and 35 years as bishop.
Puplios the Ascetic
When his parents died, Puplios inherited a sizable estate of herds and lands in Zeugma, Persia on the Euphrates. He gave this to the poor and built a monastery, buying the materials, and also helped in building the individual cells. He served as a conscience to his monks. In each door was a grill, and if a monk wasn't praying or meditating when he walked by, he would knock on the door and pray with them. Leaving the room, he would remind them to continue alone what they had begun together. He later started yet another monastic community.
Glory be with us forever. Amen.