The Monk Christopher
Commemorated on August 30
Christopher, a Roman, lived during the VI Century. He was tonsured into
monasticism at the monastery of the Monk Theodosios (Comm. 11 January) in
Palestine, Near Jerusalem. The accounts of Abba Theodulos about the Monk
Christopher are contained in the book "Spiritual Meadows"
("Leimon" or "Limonar'") by John Moskhos and Sophronios.
One time the Monk Christopher went to Jerusalem, to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and at the Life-Creating Cross. At the gateway of the church he beheld a monk not moving from the spot. Two ravens flew before his face. The Monk Christopher discerned that these were demons, which held the monk back from entering the church. He asked the brother: "Why standest thou at the gate and enter not in?". – The brother answered: "Pardon me, father, but within me struggle two thoughts: one says: go and venerate the Venerable Cross, but the other says: go not in, rather first finish thou thine affairs, and another time come and venerate". Then Saint Christopher took the brother by the hand and led him into the church. The ravens immediately disappeared, and the brother made his veneration. The Monk Christopher recounted this in instructing those who were very little diligent in prayer, and who forgot, that first one ought to fulfill spiritual service, and then afterwards the necessary work.
By day the Monk Christopher fulfilled his monastic obedience, and by night he retired to a cave, where at an earlier time had prayed the Monk Theodosios and other fathers. At each of the 18 steps, leading into the cave, he made about 100 poklons and the greater part of the night he spent in prayer, before the pealing calling to morning song. At this exploit he spent 11 years. One time, descending into the cave, he beheld in it a multitude of lamps. Two radiant youths were lighting them. "Why have ye put the lampadi here, such that I be not able to enter in and pray", – said the monk. "These are the lampadi of the fathers, serving God", – answered the youths. "Tell me, – asked the saint, – does my lampada burn or not?" They answered: "Work, pray, and we shall light it". Then the saint said to himself: "Oi, Christopher, thou oughtest to assume yet greater a burden, that thy lamp might be lighted!" He went from the monastery to Mount Sinai, taking nothing with him. The monk toiled there for 50 years at great exploits. And finally, he heard a voice saying: "Christopher! Go to thine monastery where thou didst asceticise earlier, so that thou mightest repose there with thine fathers".
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.