Our Righteous Father Theodosious the Cenobiarch and Cenobitic Life

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

According to the Seventy

Psalm 26

The Lord is my Light and my Savior; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? When the wicked draw nigh against me to eat my flesh, they that afflict me and are mine enemies, they themselves became weak and they fell. Thou a host should array itself against me, my heart shall not be afraid; though war should rise up against me, in this have I hoped. One things have I asked of the Lord, this will I see after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the delight of the Lord, and that I may visit His holy temple. For He hid me in His tabernacle in the day of my troubles, He sheltered me in the secret place of His tabernacle, upon a rock hath He exalted me. And now, behold, He exalted my head above mine enemies. I went round about and I sacrificed in His tabernacle a sacrifice of praise and jubilation; I will sing and I will chant unto the Lord. Hearken, O Lord, unto my voice, wherewith I cried; have mercy on me, and hearken unto me. My heart said unto Thee: I will seek the Lord. My face hath sought after Thee; Thy face, O Lord, will I seek. Turn not Thy face from me and turn not away in wrath from Thy servant. Be Thou my helper; cast me not utterly away, and forsake me not, O God my Savior. For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken me to Himself. Set me a law, O Lord, in Thy way, and lead me in the right path because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the souls of them that afflict me, for unjust witnesses are risen up against me, and injustice hath lied to itself. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the Land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be thou manful, and let thy heart be strengthened, and wait on the Lord.

Glory. Both now. Alleluia.



Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Saint. Plagal of Fourth Tone

With the streams of thy tears, thou didst cultivate the barrenness of the desert; and by thy sighings from the depths, thou didst bear fruit a hundredfold in labors; and thou becamest a luminary, shining with miracles upon the world, O Theodosius our righteous Father. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of the Saint. Plagal of Fourth Tone

As being planted in the courts of Christ thy Lord and God, with holy virtues thou delightfully didst blossom forth and didst multiply thy children amid the desert, who were watered with the showers of thy fervent tears, O chief shepherd of the godly sheepfold of our God. Hence we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father Theodosius.


Saint Theodosius had Cappadocia as his homeland. He lived during the years of Leo of Thrace, who reigned from 457 to 474 A.D. Saint Theodosius established in the Holy Land a great communal monastery, wherein he was the shepherd of many monks. While Saint Savvas was the head of the hermits of Palestine, Saint Theodosius was governor of those living the cenobitic life, for which reason he is called the Cenobiarch. Together with Saint Savvas, towards whom he cherished a deep brotherly love in Christ, he defended the whole land of Palestine from the heresy of the Monophysites, which was championed by the Emperor Anastasius and might very well have triumphed in the Holy Land without the opposition of both these two great monastic Fathers and their zealous defense of the Holy Council of Chalcedon. Having lived for 103 years, he reposed in peace.

For your information the term Monophysites refers to a 'family' of heresies which originated in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. and agree in confessing one nature, will, and energy, not two united but distinct natures, wills, and energies in the One Person of Christ as the Church ever confessed from the beginning.

Perhaps, I need to explain the terms 'nature' and 'person'. Briefly, 'nature' is what a thing is, its substance, its form, its powers, etc., whereas 'person' is who a thing is, the self-determination entity or personality in which nature resides, with its unique relationships to other things that make it identifiably distinct from all others (born of whom, married to whom, father of whom, etc.).

For example, we are all of the nature of Adam, but I, my person differs from every other person on earth.

This heresy (Monophysitism), which denies the reality of our salvation, started two years before the 4th Ecumenical Synod at Chalcedon, whose 630 Holy Orthodox bishops, abbots (egoumenoi), and priests then condemned it to anathema along with all those who follow it. The Orthodox at Chalcedon confessed that the Logos (Word) of God became Incarnate or took flesh (i.e., human nature) and suffered in the flesh--that is, Christ suffered in His human nature, not in His Godhead, in that nature which He had united to His Divine Person and which with the Divine Nature of Christ united in "a union without change, without confusion, without separation, without division"--"two natures in one person."

You can all see how dangerous heresy is and how blessed Our Holy Orthodox Church is to have Holy Fathers like Saint Savva and Saint Theodosius and all 630 who participated in this holy Synod.

The Holy Father who introduced the Monastic Rule of cenobitic life was another great and Holy Father, Saint Pachomius. The cenobitic life gives everyone the same food and attire. The monks of the monastery fulfilled the obedience assigned them for the common good of the monastery. Among the various obediences was copying books. The monks were not allowed to posses their own money nor to accept anything from their relatives. Saint Pachomius considered that an obedience fulfilled with zeal was greater than fasting or prayer. He also demanded from the monks an exact observance of the monastic Rule, and he chastised slackers.

Severe and strict towards himself, Saint Pachomius had great kindness and condescension toward the deficiencies of spiritually immature monks. One of the monks was eager for martyrdom, but St. Pachomius turned him from this desire and instructed him to fulfill his monastic obedience, taming his pride, and training him in humility.

The Saint taught his spiritual children to avoid judging others, and he himself feared to judge anyone even in thought.

The Monastic Rule of Saint Pachomius was revealed to him by an Angel of God, defined monasticism in external terms and demonstrated the essence of monastic life. "Do not admit anyone to the performance of higher feats till three years have passed," the Angel said. "Let him enter this domain only when he has accomplished some hard work."

According to the Rule of Saint Pachomius, the act of acceptance into a monastery had three steps and consisted of (a) "temptation" (trial), (b) clothing, and (c) obedience to the Geronda for spiritual guidance. Each of the three steps undoubtedly had its own significance. They marked the beginning of the Three Stages in Monasticism which have become deeply embedded in the life of the Orthodox Church: first, the novice (or rassophoroi); the second, the monk (known as a monk of the Lesser Schema); and the third, the monk of the Great Schema (or simply schema-monk).

The Cenobitic Monasticism, which is considered to be the beginning of the Great Republic of Monks on the Holy Mountain, only started in 963 A.D. when monk Athanasios the Athonite built the cenobitic monastery of Meghisti Lavra, with the help of the Emperor Nicephoros Phokas and the continued support of Emperor John Tsimiskis. The community soon became a "pan-Orthodox" community Iberians (Georgians), Russians, Serbians, Bulgarians and Romanians joined the Greeks to form the pan-Orthodox community, a "Republic of Monks".

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George