My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE
Pambo (or Panbis), the great and venerable Egyptian Desert Father, was born in 303 A.D. He was one of the first to join Abba (Father) Ammoun in Nitria.
The Abba (Father) once said, “By the grace of God, since I left the world, I have not uttered one word for which I afterward repented.”
When Archbishop Theophilos of Alexandria (385-412 A.D.) was visiting Sketis on one of his pastoral rounds, the brethren spoke to Abba Pambo with some urgency and said, “Speak a word to the pope that we may be set up and supported in this place.” Pambo remarked, “If by my silence we are not aided, neither shall my word avail anything.”
The Value of Obedience
On one occasion, four brethren clad in skins came from Sketis to visit the venerable Pambo. Each of the four had a private interview with the Abba. Each recounted to Pambo his manner of living. The first brethren declared that he exercised frequent abstinence. The second claimed to live a life of poverty. The third stated he possessed great love and charity. The fourth brother recounted that “I have been in subjection to the old men for twenty-two years. When the four of them were together before Father Pambo, the latter remarked while indicating the fourth brother, “The spiritual excellence of this man is great.” then directing his gaze at the first three monks, he said, “Each of you has chosen the ascetic virtue according to his own desire. But this brother has cut off his own will and desire. HE RESTRAINS HIS OWN WILL AND PERFORMS THE WILL OF OTHERS. Those who are thus, IF THEY SHOULD PRESERVE OBEDIENCE TO THE END, WILL BECOME CONFESSORS; THAT IS TO SAY, IT IS OF SUCH MEN THAT THE MARTYRS ARE MADE, IF THEY PERSEVERE TO THE END.
On Value of Sobriety
It was said that Abba (Father) Pambo was never seen to smile or laugh. One day the devils wished to provoke him to laughter. What did they contrive? They suspended a feather on a piece of wood. With rapid movements, as they disported and danced, they carried it about hither and thither. With much uproar, they kept shouting, “Go, go!” Father Pambo seeing such a ridiculous display, chuckled. At that moment, the devils ran about, jumping in malignant glee and exclaiming, “Ha! ha! Abba Pambo has given way to laughter!” The Abba responded, “I did not chuckle to myself but at your infirmity, for I saw how weak you are insofar that it took so many of you to carry one little feather!”
Our Saint was once assailed by the demon of blasphemy. Abba Pambo begged God to deliver him. The Abba then heard a voice from n high, saying, “Pambo, Pambo, despond not because of the iniquity of others, BUT MINDFUL ONLY OF THINE OWN DEEDS. Let the blasphemous thoughts, for they are satanic and alien to us; and by this method, we shall hold them in contempt; once and for all, BY THE GRACE OF GOD.
The Value of the Love of Poverty
Father Pambo was not held in thrall to lucre. This was amply shown upon the visit of the blessed woman Melanie (the Elder). She was of Spanish descent but few up in Rome. She had been a widow from the age of twenty-two. She went to Mount Nitria that she might make a pilgrimage and see the fathers. This included our Pambo, as well as Arsenios, Serapion the Great, Paphnoutios of Sketis, Isidore the confessor and Bishop of Hermopolis, and Dioskoros. She had sold all her property and converted it into gold, which she used for charitable ends. Melanie arrived in Alexandria. The blessed Isidore Xenodochos related to her the life and deeds of Abba Pambo. She, thereupon, was resolved to visit the Abba and make a handsome donation. She hired guides and took a basket which was filled with silver coins, about three hundred pounds in weight. When she came into his presence, he was occupied at his handiwork. He was sitting and plaiting the leaves of palm trees. He gave her his blessing, and said, “May God give thee thy reward!” Abba Pambo then directed the steward, named Origen, to dispense the money among all the brethren who are in the island in Libya. Father Pambo had them in mind since they were extremely poor. He gave express orders to Origen not to distribute the donation among any who dwelt in Egypt; for he said, “We, thank God, have abundant means here to keep ourselves.”
Melanie later recounted the interview. She admitted that she thought within herself, “As I stood before him, I really expected to be treated with honor or at least to be praised for the munificence of the donation. But he said nothing. So I said to him. ‘Milord, dost thou wish to know the amount within the basket? It is three hundred pounds of silver.’ The Abba (Father) continued to keep his eyes fixed on his handiwork. He then spoke to her without directing his gaze toward her and said, “My daughter, the Lord to Whom thou hast offered thy money does not require an accounting of the weight. For He Who weighed the mountains in a balance knows how much silver is inside that basket. If the money were for me, thou wouldest have done well to give me a tally of the weight. But since thou has consigned the money to God, Who did not despise the widow’s two mites, there is no need to mention the amount to Him. It is better to be silent about it.” Melanie, therefore, was very much edified. The year was 393 A.D.
Palladios, Bishop of Helenopolis of Bithynia, in his Lausiac History, records: “Our Lord had so dispensed that on the very day in which I entered the mountain, that the blessed Pambo would be called home by the Lord. He had neither fever nor illness. In fact, he reposed in the midst of sewing together palm leaves for mats. The man of God was seventy years old. As he was coming to the end of the mat upon which he was laboring, he called me. When he put the finishing touches on the mat, he said to me, “Take this mat from me. May it be a reminder to thee of me, for I have naught to leave thee!’ the moment that he relinquished it into my hands, he immediately fell asleep in the Lord. I wrapped his precious body in linen and buried him, I then left the desert. I shall treasure that mat as a sacred relic to the end of my life.”
Saint Pambo crucified himself to life utterly. He now stands before the crucified Savior. So having brought the account to this termination, we, in return, ask for the gift of his blessing and beg his powerful intercession. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George