The Monk Gregory the Sinaite

Commemorated on August 8

      The Monk Gregory the Sinaite was born in about the year 1268 in the seacoast village of Clazomeneia near the city of Smyrna (Asia Minor), of rich parents. In about the year 1290 he was taken into captivity by the Hagarites and sent off to Laodicea. After gaining his freedom, the saint arrived on the island of Cyprus, where he was tonsured a monk. He set off afterwards to Mount Sinai and there assumed the great schema. Having fulfilled his obediences of cook and baker, and then as writer-copyist, surpassing all in reading and knowledge of Scriptural and patristic books. The strictness of his life (fasting, vigil, psalmody, standing at prayer) brought some to astonishment and others to envy. Departing the monastery, the monk visited Jerusalem. For some time he lived on the island of Crete, and afterwards he made the rounds on Athos with its monasteries and ascetics. By such manner he acquired the experience of the monastic life of many centuries from the ancient monasteries. Only after this did the Monk Gregory the Sinaite settle himself in a solitary place for "hesychia" ["mystic quiet" doing the Jesus Prayer] a cell for silence and unhindered pursuit of mental prayer, combined with hard monastic work.
      The precious legacy of the Monk Gregory is in his precepts about the inner life, 15 chapters about silence, and 142 chapters about the commandments, where he says, that "one seeking to comprehend the commandments without fulfilling them, and through study and reading to find that which is desired, is like a man imagining a fantasy in place of truth". The monk is reknown also as a remarkable writer of song, to him is ascribed the "Mete it is in truth" ("Dostoino est vo istinu"), and a canon to the MostHoly Trinity read at Sunday vigil, and a canon to the holy Cross. In a canon-book (from the year 1407) of the Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Belozersk (+ 9 June 1427) is found the "Canon of propitiation to the Lord Jesus Christ, a work of Gregory the Sinaite". Through his concern for the spreading of monastic deeds, the monk founded several cells on Athos, and also four laura-monasteries in Thrace. The Monk Gregory the Sinaite died in the year 1310 (some historians suggest the year 1346) at his so-called "Concealed" ("Parariseia") monastery, founded in the mountains of Macedonia for the strict followers of his life.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Monk Gregory
the Sinaite

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