Departure of the Great St. John the Short
On this day we commemorate the departure of the great light and saint, Abba John (Yoanis) the Short. He was a native of Betsa in Upper Egypt and he had one brother. His parents were righteous and God-fearing people, rich in faith and in good deeds.
When he was eight years old his heart turned away from this world and he desired the monastic life. The grace of God moved him to go to the Desert of Scete and there he met an experienced and holy father whose name was Abba Pemwah from El-Bahnasa.
John asked Abba Pemwah to allow him to stay with him. The old man answered, testing him: "My son, you cannot stay here with us, for this is very hard desert and those who dwell in it eat from the work of their hands. That is besides observing many fasts, prayers, and sleeping on the floor and many other forms of asceticism. Go back to the world and live in godliness". John told him: "Do not send me away, for God's sake, because I came here to be under your obedience and to live by your prayers. If you accept me, I believe that God will make your heart well pleased with me".
Abba Pemwah was in the habit of not doing anything in a haste. He asked the Lord Jesus to reveal to him the matter of this person. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Accept him, for he shall be a chosen vessel". Abba Pemwah accepted him, cut off his hair, laid out the garb of a monk, and prayed over it three days and three nights. And when Abba Pemwah put the garb on him, he saw an angel making the sign of the Cross over it.
John started his monastic life with great asceticism and worthy works. One day Abba Pemwah wanted to test him, so he expelled him from his cell saying: "I cannot live with you". John stayed outside the cell for seven days. Every day Abba Pemwah went out and smote him with a palm branch and John bowed down before him saying: "I have sinned". On the seventh day, the old father went out to go to the church and he saw seven angels with seven crowns placing them on the head of John. Since that day, St. John was held by him in honor and reverence.
One day Abba Pemwah found a cane of dry wood and gave it to St. John and said to him: "Take this cane, plant and water it". St. John obeyed and went on watering it twice every day even though the water was about twelve miles from where they dwelled. After three years, that cane sprouted and grew into a fruitful tree. Abba Pemwah took some of that fruit and went around to all the elders saying: "Take, eat from the fruit of obedience". This tree still exists in its place in his monastery.
Abba Pemwah fell sick for twelve years and St. John served him faithfully during that time. Abba Pemwah was an experienced old man who had suffered much, and sickness had emaciated him until he became like a piece of dry wood, so that he would be a chosen offering to God. When he was about to die, he gathered the elders around him and held the hand of St. John and said: "Keep him, for he is an angel, not a human". He commanded St. John to stay in the place where he had planted the cane.
After that St. John's older brother came to the monastery and was ordained with him. He also became a virtuous monk.
When they made St. John an Archpriest in his Church, it happened that when the Patriarch Abba Theophilus was placing his hand over the head of St. John, a voice from heaven was heard by the people present saying: "Worthy, worthy, worthy". When this saint used to consecrate the offering, he was able to know who was worthy to partake of it and those who were not worthy.
Abba Theophilus the Patriarch had built a Church in Alexandria in the name of the "Three Young Men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego" who were cast into the burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-26). He wished to bring their bodies from Persia and place them in the Church. He asked St. John to travel to Babylon to bring the holy bodies.
St. John accepted to go on this mission after much hesitation. When he left the Patriarch a cloud came and carried him away to Babylon. He entered the city and saw its monuments, rivers, and palaces and found the bodies of the Saints. When he started moving them from their place, a voice came out from the holy bodies and said to him: "It is the will of God that we do not leave this place until the day of resurrection. Nevertheless, because of the love of Abba Theophilus the Patriarch, and your labour too, you should inform the Patriarch to gather the people in the Church and to put oil in the lamps without lighting them and we will appear in the church and a sign will be made manifest to you". Then he left and returned to Alexandria and told the Patriarch what the Saints had said.
It happened then that when the Patriarch and the people were in the Church, the lamps were lit up suddenly and they all gave glory to God.
One day, a monk came into the cell of St. John. He found him lying down and angels waving their wings over him.
One day the barbarians attacked the Desert of Scete and Abba John decided to leave. When he was questioned why he left, he replied that he did not leave because he was afraid of death but because he feared lest a barbarian should slay him and go to hell. He did not want to go to heaven and someone else go to hell because of him. After all, the barbarians are his brothers in form. He left the Scete Desert and went to the mountain of Abba Anthony on the Red Sea. There he dwelt by the side of a village and God sent him a believer who served him.
When the Lord wished to grant him rest and to end his toil in this world He sent him His two righteous saints Abba Macarius and Abba Anthony to comfort him and to inform him about his departure. On a Sunday evening he fell sick and sent his servant to bring him something from the village. The angels and the host of saints came and received his pure soul and took it up to heaven.
When his servant came back he saw the soul of the Saint surrounded by the host of saints and by the angels. In the forefront of the saints there was one who was shining like the sun. The angels were singing.
As the servant marvelled at this magnificent sight, an angel came to him and told him the name of each one of the saints; this is Abba Pachomius, this is Abba Macarius, etc. The servant asked: "Who is this one in the front who is shining like the sun?" The angel replied: "This is Abba Anthony the father of all the monks".
When the servant went into the cell he found the body of the saint kneeling to the ground, he had given up his soul. The servant wept sorrowfully over him and went in a hurry to the village people and told them what had happened. They came and carried his holy body with great honor. When they brought him into the village great wonders and miracles were performed through his body.
Holy Disciples from the Seventy -- Stakhios, Amplias, Urban,
Narcissos, Apellias and Aristoboulos (I): The holy Apostle
Andrew the First-Called ordained Stakhias to the dignity of bishop
of Byzantium, where he was bishop for sixteen years, zealously
preaching the Gospel of Christ and converting pagans to the true
faith. Saint Amplias was bishop in the city of Diospolis; Saint
Urban -- in Macedonia. They also were bishops by the consecration
of the holy Apostle Andrew. For preaching the Gospel they were
put to a martyr's death by Jews and pagan Greeks. Saint Narcissos
was bishop in the city of Athens. Saint Apellias was bishop at
Holy Martyr Epimakhos was a native of Egypt. For a long
time he lived in seclusion on Mount Peleusis. During the time
of a persecution against Christians at Alexandria (about the year
250), Saint Epimakhos in his fervent zeal came into the city,
destroyed pagan idols, and fearlessly confessed the teaching of
Christ. For this the saint was put to torture. Among the people
watching the torture was a woman with infirmity of the eyes; a
droplet of blood from the martyr healed her infirmity. After fierce
tortures the saint was beheaded by the sword.
Monks Spiridon and Nikodim, Prosphora-Makers of Pechersk
(XII), for 30 years fulfilled their obedience -- they baked prophora.
The Monk Spiridon came to the monastery during the time of the
hegumen Pimen (1132-1141), already no longer young a man. The
ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and the singing
of psalms. Even during his life the Monk Spiridon was glorified
by miracles. An instance is known, when he extinguished his mantle
which had caught fire from the oven -- the fire was put out, but
the mantle remained whole. Saint Nikodim toiled together with
the Monk Spiridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are
located in the Antoniev Cave. The fingers of the right hand of
the Monk Spiridon are positioned together three-fingered. Their
memory is also 28 September and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
The Nun Maura pursued asceticism at Tsargrad, where she founded a monastery, and at which she died in the V Century.