My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
OUR HOLY FATHER SAVA THE SANCTIFIED (+ DECEMBER 5TH)
The unknown village of Mutalaska, in the province of Cappadocia, became famous through this great light of the Orthodox Church, for Saint Sava was born there. He left the home of his parents, John and Sophia, at the age of eight and became a monk in a nearby monastery called 'Flavian's'. After ten years, he moved to the monasteries of Palestine, staying longest in the monastery of Saint Efthimius the Great (January 20th) and Theoctistus. Efthimius, who had the gift of discernment, foretold that he would be a famous monk and leader of monks, and that he would found a monastery that would be greater than any other of that day. After Saint Efthimius's death, Sava went into the desert, where he lived for five years as a hermit in a cave which an Angel of God showed him. After that, when he had become a perfected monks, he began by Divine Providence to gather round him many desirous of the spiritual life. They very quickly grew in number, so that Sava had to build both a church and many cells (kellia). Some Armenians also came to him, and he set aside a cave for them, and they celebrated the services there in their own language. When his father died, his aged mother Sophia came to him and he made her a nun and gave her a cell away from the monastery, where she lived in asceticism till her death. This Holy Father endured many attacks from those close to him, from heretics and from demons. But he overcame them all in these ways: those close to him he won over by his goodness and forbearance, the heretics by an unshakeable confession of the Orthodox Christian faith, and the demons with the sign of the Cross and the invocation of God's aid. He had a particularly severe battle with the demons on the mountain of Castellium, where he founded the second of his seven monasteries. He and his neighbor, Theodosius the Great, are considered to be the greatest lights and pillars of Orthodoxy in the East. Kings and Patriarchs were brought to the right Faith by them, and these holy and wonderful men, strong in the power of God, served each and every man as an example of humility. Saint Sava entered into rest in 532 A.D. at the age of 94, after a life of great labor and great reward.
Among all his other great and good works, let this be remembered above all, that he compiled the first Order of Services for use in monasteries, now known as the Jerusalem Typikon.
(Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
A man may be great in some skill, as a statesman or a military leader, but no-one amongst men is greater than the man great in faith, hope and love. The greatness of the faith and hope in God held by Saint Sava the Sanctified is best shown by the following incident: One day the monastery treasurer came to St. Sava and said he would not be able to sound the semantron the following Saturday and Sunday to summon the brethren for the common service and meal, because there was not a trace of flour in the monastery, nor anything at all to eat or drink. For the same reason, even the Divine Liturgy was impossible. The Saint replied without hesitation: "I shall not cancel the Divine Liturgy because of a lack of flour. He who commanded us not to be concerned for bodily things is faithful to His word, and is able to sustain us in a time of hunger.' And he placed all his trust in God. In this extremity, he was prepared to send some of the church vessels and vestments to be sold in the city, so that the divine services might not be foregone, nor the brothers' customary meal. But, before Saturday dawned, some men, moved by Divine Providence, brought thirty mules laden with wheat, wine and oil to the monastery. 'Shall we not strike the semandron and gather the fathers?' The treasurer was ashamed of his lack of faith, and begged the Abbot's (Egoumenos) forgiveness. Saint Sava's biographer called him 'severe with demons, but mild with men'. Some monks rebelled against Saint Sava, and were driven from the monastery by order of Patriarch Elias. They built themselves huts on the bed of the Tekoa river, and lived there in dire straits without the bare necessities of life. Hearing that they were starving, Saint Sava loaded mules with flour and took them to them himself. Seeing that they had no church, he built them one. At first the monks received him with hatred, but afterwards they returned his love with love, and repented of their former evil towards him.
(Please note: Semandron is a long piece of flat wood, shaped for resonance, which is struck rapidly with a mallet. It became widely used in place of a church bell under Turkish rule, when Christians were forbidden to ring bells.) [The Prologue from Ochrid]
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God