Commemorated on June 19
The Monk Paisias
the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous
alms to all the needy.
After the death of
her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an Angel, gave over her young son
Paisias to clergy of the church.
The youth Paisias
loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes.
Disavowing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of Saint Pambos
(Comm. 18 July), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The starets/elder said,
that a newly-begun monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, so as to
guard his senses from temptation, and Paisias, heeding the instruction, went
for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic diligently
read spiritual books and he was especially notable for ascetic fasting and
prayer. At first he did not taste of food during the course of a week, then –
of two, and sometimes after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he
remained without food for seventy days.
In search of solitary
quiet the Monk Paisias went into the Nitreian wilderness, where he lived in a
cave carved out by his own hands. There the monk was vouchsafed a wondrous
vision – the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him, that because of his labours
all the Nitreian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics. The monk was
impelled to ask the Lord where in the wilderness would the monks obtain the
necessities of life? The Lord answered, that if they would fulfill all His
commandments, He Himself would obtain for them all the necessities, to put them
beyond demonic temptations and cunning.
With time there
gathered to the Monk Paisias a number of monks and laymen, and thus was
established a monastery. The primary covenant of the Monk Paisias was one: no
one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will
of his mentors. Burdened by the disturbance of the quiet, the monk withdrew to
a yet farther cave. One time he was transported to a paradaisical monastery and
vouchsafed there to partake of the non-material Divine food. After his ascetic
labours for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of foresight and
healing the souls of men. In the life of the ascetic is reported an instance
when one of his disciples, with the blessing of the monk, set off to sell
handicrafts in Egypt and on the way he encountered a Jew, who suggested to the
simple-minded monk that Christ the Saviour is not the Messiah, and that another
one, a true one, will come. Confused, the monk uttered: "Perhaps it is
true what thou sayest", – yet he did not attribute any particular
significance to his words. Having returned, he saw with grief that the Monk
Paisias would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his
anger. The monk said: "My disciple was a Christian, thou art not a
Christian, from thee hath departed the grace of Baptism". Having repented,
the monk with tears besought to have absolved his sin. Only then did the holy
elder rise up to prayer and seek forgiveness of the Lord for the monk.
A certain monk on his
own initiative left the wilderness and re-settled not far from a city. There he
had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Saviour.
Having fallen under her influence, he not only left monasticism, but also
scorned faith in Christ and finally he arrived at total disbelief. One time,
through the blessed Providence of God, Nitreian monks came past his home.
Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks
to convey to the Monk Paisias, that he pray for him to the Lord. Hearing the
request, the monk began to pray fervently, and his efficacious prayer was
heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon
the seduced-monk's woman-companion died, and he returned to the wilderness
where, weeping and distressed about his sins, he began to labour at deeds of
The Monk Paisias
distinguished himself by great humility, and accomplished ascetic deeds of
fasting and prayer, but as far as possible, he concealed them from those aside.
To a question of the monks, which virtue is highest of all, the monk answered:
"those, which are done in secret and about which no one knows".
The Monk Paisias died
in the V Cent. in extreme old age and he was buried with veneration by many of
the gathered monks. After some while his relics were transferred by the Monk
Isidoros Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February) to the Pelusiot Monastery and placed
alongside the relics of the Monk Paul of the Wilderness, with whom the Monk
Paisias in life was in particular spiritually close.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.