St. Peter the Egyptian
Peter the Egyptian might have been the disciple of Abbot Lot, who is mentioned in the book of the fathers called Paradise.
Once a brother asked Peter: "When I am in my cell my soul is in peace but, when a brother comes to me and tells me words of the people in the world, then my soul is disturbed."
Peter answered him that his elder, Abbot Lot, used to say: "Your key opens the door."
"What does this mean, abbot?", asked the brother, "if a brother comes to you, you ask him `How are you?', `Where do you come from?', `How are the brothers?', `Did they receive you hospitably or not?' And, thus, with these words you first open the door for your brother to talk. So, you hear these things which you want and which disturb your soul."
Peter said, "This is true."
"Well, what should one do, when a brother comes to him?", the brother asked again.
"When one has penthos (grieves for his sins), then penthos instructs and teaches him what he must do. But, when one does not have penthos, he cannot watch over himself."
"Whenever I am in my cell, penthos is with me but, when I get out of my cell, then penthos departs from me", answered the brother.
Peter told him that as a true son does not leave his father, so penthos, when it has become a person's habit, does not depart anymore.
Some other time Peter was asked what a servant of God is. His answer was this: "As long as one practices any kind of passion he cannot be called servant of God, but he is the servant of that passion which conquers him. As long as he is conquered he cannot teach others, who are conquered by the same passions, because it is shameful for him to teach, before he has been freed from that passion about which he teaches."
Departure of Abba James, Bishop of Nisibis
On this day, the Church commemorates the departure of Abba James, Bishop of Nisibis. He died in the year 338 A.D. He was of Syrian origin and was born and brought up in the city of Nisibis.
Early in his youth, he chose the monastic life. He wore sackcloth made of hair. His food and drink were vegetables of the earth and water and as a result he was very thin.
He had an illumined soul and he was worthy of the gift of prophecy and performing miracles. He also had the gift of foretelling the future and he advised the people of what would happen to them in advance.
Among his miracles were the following: One day he saw some women laughing and playing together in a lewd manner by a spring of water, and they let their hair down to take a bath. As he prayed to God, the water dried up and the women's hair turned white. When the women lamented, he prayed to God and the water came back to the spring but their hair remained white.
Another miracle occurred when he was passing by some people who stretched a man on the ground and covered him as though he was dead. They asked the saint for some money for his burial. When they returned, they found the man had dead. They went back to the saint and expressed their anguish for what they had done. He prayed to God and the man came back to life.
When his virtues became widely known, he was chosen a Bishop over the city of Nisibis. He shepherded the flock of Christ very well and protected his people from the followers of Arius. He was one of the bishops who attended the first Ecumenical Council at Nicae in 325 A.D. and conceded to the excommunication of Arius.
When Shapur, the King of Persian came to attack Nisibis, he surrounded it with his army. In answer to the prayer of St. James, God brought swarms of mosquitoes and wasps over their horses and elephants which caused a great stampede and the animals fled away. The King of Persia was afraid, he fled with his army, and the siege was broken. When the saint completed his good course, he departed in peace.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.