The Third Wednesday after Pascha. CHRISTOS ANESTI! CHRIST IS RISEN! The Feast Day of Saint Pachomios
Saint Pachomios was born of pagan parents in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt. He was conscripted into the Roman army at an early age. While quartered with the other soldiers in the prison in Thebes, Pachomios was astonished at the kindness shown them by the local Christians, who relieved their distress by bringing them food and drink. Upon inquiring who they were, he believed in Christ and vowed that once delivered from the army, he would serve Him all the days of his life. Released from military service, about the year 313, he was baptized, and became a disciple of the hermit Palamon, under whose exacting guidance he increased in virtue and grace, and reached such a height of holiness that “because of the purity of his heart,” says his biographer, “he was, as it were, seeing the invisible God as in a mirror.” His renown spread far, and so many came to him to be his disciples that he founded nine monasteries in all, filled with many thousands of monks, to whom he gave a rule of life, which became the pattern for all communal monasticism after him. While Saint Anthony the Great is the father of hermits, Saint Pachomios is the founder of the cenobitic life in Egypt; because Pachomios had founded a way of monasticism accessible to so many, Anthony said that he “walks the way of the Apostles.” Saint Pachomios fell asleep in the Lord before his contemporaries Anthony and Athanasius the Great, in the year 346. His name in Coptic, Pachom, means “eagle.”
Once, while living in the desert, Pachomios learned that the city of Alexandria was being ravaged by famine and epidemic. He spent several days in tears, not even eating the meager ration of food which he allowed himself. His novices begged him to eat and restore his strength but St Pachomios replied, “How can I eat when my brethren do not have bread?” How far are even the best of us from such love and commiseration?
Pachomios memorized the Holy Scriptures. When he started reciting God’s words by heart, he did not do it in the fashion of many other people, but he strove to comprehend it himself, each and every thing through humility, gentleness and truth, according to the Lord’s word, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29).
As the Vita Prima Graeca informs us, the few monks of the early days of the Pachomian community marveled at him exceedingly, because they saw him toiling…through his assumption of nearly all the care of the monastery. For he prepared the table for them at mealtime…he sowed and watered the vegetables…he answered the door every time someone would knock at it…if any one of them were sick, Pachomios himself took care of him and ministered to him during the night…he freed them of all care.
One day Pachomios was weaving a rush mat in Tabennesis and a boy came to the weekly service in the monastery. When the boy saw him weaving, he told him, ‘Not so father! Do not turn the thread this way. Father Theodore showed us another style of weaving.’ Pachomios rose and said to the boy: ‘Yes, teach me this style.’ After the boy taught him, he sat to work gladly, having even in this matter anticipated the spirit of arrogance. If his way were the way of the flesh, he would not have cared but would even have reprimanded the child for having spoken out of turn.
Elder Pachomios would say: “He who in my view is a sinner is not to ask of God to see visions. For without God’s will, visions are misleading…hear now about a great vision: it is a great vision to see a pure and humble man. For what is greater…than to see the invisible God in the visible man who is his temple”.
~Adapted from Mystagogy, the Weblog of John Sanidopoulos (http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/05/saint-pachomios-great-martyr-and.html