My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
July 6th our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates
our Venerable Father SISOES the Great.
Sisoes, the Venerable and Great Abba (Father) among ascetics, was born in Egypt at the beginning of the 14th century. They used to say that there was an occasion when certain of the old men (gerondes) were sitting with Abba (Father) Poemen and discussing some of the Fathers, they were asking one another, "Who remembers Abba Sisoes?" Abba Poemen said, "Cease talking about Abba Sisoes, for he has surpassed the measure of all histories."
Abba Sisoes flourished in Egypt during the time of prominent ascetics: the divine Antony the Great, the Wondrous and Venerable Father Or the Nitriote, and a multitude of other great and holy anchorites. The godly Sisoes, who loved the Lord from his earliest years, heard of these fathers’ virtues and God-inspired achievements. Although he was yet a child, he took up the cross of Christ upon his shoulders and followed Him. He quit the world and sought to embrace the eremitical life in the harsh desert, watchfulness, guarding of thoughts, and prayer of the heart.
Saint Sisoes at Nitria of Sketis
From the start, the blessed Sisoes desired to be in obedience to a God-fearing elder. He, therefore. He, therefore, repaired to that unearthly Nitrian precinct of Sketis. At that time there were approximately one thousand monks struggling at Nitria under the experienced guidance of our Venerable Father Or, who was known never to tell a lie or to swear or to curse anyone, and to speak only if it were absolutely necessary. It was here that God led the youth Sisoes to commence his monastic life. Happily situated, Sisoes, in but a short time, had so advanced in virtue and in the many toils and hardships of asceticism that he surpassed his fellow strugglers. He became a model and example for all to follow. One time he said to his elder, "Give me a word of excellence." Abba Or answered, "Dos thou have faith in me?" Sisoes replied "Yes." The elder continued, "Go thy way, and whatever thou hast seen me doing, do also thyself/" Sisoes asked, "What do I see in thee, father?" The elder answered, "My thoughts are the most deprecative of all men. I abase myself, putting myself below all men." Thus, Sisoes disciplined himself to attain humble-mindedness. He undertook to perform every humble labor and counted himself as nought when doing it, as he was taught by his elder Abba Or. Verily, to the marvel of all, Sisoes made progress in virtue well beyond his years.
As the right-minded Sisoes allotted his time struggling ascetically at Sketis of Nitria, he heard of the achievements of the Great Antony. He conceived within his heart the desire to abide near him so that he might emulate firsthand his struggles. Although Sisoes was a great favorite of Abba Or, yet it was God’s will that he leave Nitria. There were two reasons: Nitria had become thickly populated with monastics and many of the brethren were visiting the holy Sisoes. The desire for a more unfrequented retreat to practice perfection and hesychasm was aflame in his heart. Thus, the heavenly-minded Sisoes departed to take counsel with Saint Anthony, but he was not in time to meet the holy man Anthony who in the interim was translated to the Lord. When Sisoes arrived, he conceived an even greater yearning to partake of the recently reposed elder’s ascetical toils. He, therefore, sought refuge in the undisturbed silence of the Interior Mountain of Saint Anthony, where it was the most quiet. It was here that he would devise new tests of endurance.
Saint Sisoes at the Mountain of Saint Anthony
At the Mountain of Saint Anthony, where he found good anchorage, Sisoes spent many years adding toil to toil through the abundance of divine power supplied to him. He passed through every ascetic hardship and unceasing warfare against the invisible demons, prevailing over them in the end and raising up trophies. He maintained an attitude of attention, kept watch over his inward thoughts, and guarded his heart and intellect. By extreme abstinence and prayer, he caused the passions of his body to wither. On account of his virtues, the name of this beacon was made illustrious not only in all of Egypt but even in faraway lands. Clergy, famed monastics, and lay people came to him in order to savor his teachings and beneficial spiritual counsels. Despite all this attention, however, the blessed Sisoes preserved extreme humility, considering himself QUITE WORTHLESS. On account of his humility, he received grace from the Lord to raise the dead.
Now the blessed hour arrived for his translation from this passing temporal life to that which is everlasting and deathless. As he was about to repose, the fathers in that area gathered together before his sickbed. Abba (Father) Sisoes’ countenance shine as the sun, and he said, "Behold, Abba Antony is coming!" And after a little time, he said again, "Behold, the choir of the Prophets is coming!" And again his face shone with superabundant radiance, and he said, "Behold, the choir of the Apostles is coming!" Then the light of his face was magnified twofold, and it appeared as though he were speaking with certain ones. All those in his cell were beside themselves with wonder.
The elders then besought the Venerable man to tell them with whom he was conversing. The Saint said to them, "Behold! The Angels came to take my soul, and I implored them that they leave me A LITTLE TIME IN ORDER TO REPENT." The fathers marveled at such humility, and they understood that he IN REALITY ARRIVED AT PERFECTION. His countenance then suddenly shone again as the sun, and all of them were seized with fear. The Saint said to them, "Look, the Lord is coming and saying, ‘Bring to Me the vessel of the desert." Immediately with that utterance, the blessed Sisoes surrendered his soul into the hands of God… Having received the radiance of the Spirit, his beaming face revealed his luminous and pure soul. At the same time, there was a flash of lightning and the whole hermitage was filled with a sweet odor. It was the 6th day of the month of July, in the year 429 A.D.
Thorugh such a wondrous and unearthly sign the All-Good God glorified His servant, the humble-minded Sisoes. Thus the Lord of Glory took the Abba’s blessed soul into His immaculate hands, and placed him in the heavenly tabernacles where there are the tents of the Saints and eternal radiance wherein now he intercedes entreating Christ without ceasing for us. Through his intercessions, O Christ God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
"Glory Be To GOD