Lives of Saints - St. Pachomios the Great Christianity - Books
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;'                but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.                If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                'It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,'                but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.                'Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,'                but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God;                nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.                Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black.                But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.                'You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'*                But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.                If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.                Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.                Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you.                'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor,* and hate your enemy.*'                But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,                that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.               
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St. Pachomios the Great

Among the least known yet most venerated of our many saints was Pachomios, whose obscure life was such that his distance from man placed him closer to God, and yet he served both. Pachomios was one of the first monastics and the founder of communal monasticism.

Monasticism is not only one of the most sincere expressions of piety, but it is also one of the sturdiest pillars of the Christian faith. Monasticism is directed toward the attainment of the highest spiritual peace and serenity through prayer and meditation. The monastic thereby strives to attain likeness to God, in whose image all men are created. Those who look upon monastics as mere recluses seeking to avoid the harsh realities of life would do well to remember that without the strength of spirit and mind that the monasteries have provided, the light of Christianity would have been considerably dimmed, if not extinguished altogether.

Some of our greatest Christian stalwarts have been drawn from the monastic ranks. Their dedication to knowledge, wisdom, and faith in their eternal search for truth have been like those of the unheralded scientists whose microscopes have revealed the secrets that have helped mankind. The monk has often been the answer to both the apostate and the heretic.

The saint we honour for his endeavours in this much maligned but forceful and viable segment of Christianity is Pachomios. He was born during the reign of Constantine and was a soldier in the Byzantine army. Raised by pagan parents, he thoroughly enjoyed the military life with its pomp and splendour, but soon he discovered that he could perform greater service. He was not insensitive to his growing need for spiritual enlightenment and in an about-face he walked away from a life of conquest and riotous living, turning to one of earnest meditation and prayer. Bidding his parents farewell, he left the urban comforts of his native country, exchanging them for the barren wastes of the desert of Tavennisis in Egypt, to which he confidently strode for an unheralded approach to God.

His seeming estrangement from society developed into a greater intimacy with God, and after many years in retreat his reputation as a man of God was spread throughout the empire. People were fascinated by the stories they eagerly would hear about Pachomios, the hermit, monk, intellectual, philosopher, and humble servant of God.

Within a decade, a total of twelve monasteries had been established in the desert by Pachomios. These monasteries were populated by those who followed him into the oppressive wasteland in search of God. The rules of monasticism laid down by him are still followed today. Such was his conception of the monastic approach to God that no one has ever sought to change it. Although St. Pachomios would have preferred a complete isolation that he might give himself over totally to Jesus Christ, he fully realised that monasteries strategically located would lead to greater and more dedicated population of Christians who would see to more churches, since not all of Christianity could be wrapped up in tidy packages of humanity in cloisters. His full dedication to Jesus Christ did not bind him to the fact that the family unit was the nucleus of Christianity, but to supplement the work of priests there had to be the watchdogs who sat as silent watchdogs but who were always on the alert to warn of danger. These, then, were the monks, who, in spite of isolation were a driving force of Orthodoxy. They not only sat in on council sessions of importance, but some left their retreats to be ordained and rise in the hierarchy. St. Pachomios chose to stay with the cloister but his tremendous spirit went out into the land and we know him now as St. Pachomios the Great.

Many miracles came to be attributed to Pachomios; he attracted thousands who trekked mile after mile to be in his presence, to hear his counsel, and to receive his blessing. As a result, he was given the title of "Great" by the Fathers of the Church. Unlike the martyrs, Pachomios came to a peaceful end in his beloved desert on 28 May 395 AD.


Saint Pachomius the Great

Saint Pachomius was an Egyptian by birth and was a pagan in his youth. As a soldier, he took part in the Emperor Constantine's war against Maxentius. After that, learning from Christians about the one God and seeing their devout life, Pachomius was baptized and went to the Tabennisiot desert, to the famous ascetic Palamon, with whom he lived in asceticism for ten years. Then an angel appeared to him in the robes of a monk of the Great Habit at the place called Tabennisi and gave him a tablet on which was written the rule of a cenobitic monastery, commanding him to found such a monastery in that place and prophesying to him that many monks would come to it seeking the salvation of their souls. Obeying the angel of God, Pachomius began building many cells, although there was no-one in that place but himself and his brother John. When his brother grumbled at him for doing this unnecessary building, St. Pachomius simply told him that he was following God's command, without explaining who would live there, or when. But many men soon assembled in that place, moved by the Spirit of God, and began to live in asceticism under the rule that Pachomius had received from the angel.

When the number of monks had increased greatly, Pachomius, step by step, founded six further monasteries. The number of his disciples grew to seven thousand. St. Antony is regarded as the founder of the eremitic life, and St. Pachomius of the monastic, communal life. The humility, love of toil and abstinence of this holy father were and remain a rare example for the imitation of monks. St. Pachomius performed innumerable miracles, and also endured innumerable temptations from demons and men. And he served men as both father and brother. He roused many to set out on the way of salvation, and brought many into the way of truth. He was and remains a great light in the Church and a great witness to the truth and righteousness of Christ. He entered peacefully into rest in 346, at the age of sixty. The Church has raised many of his followers to the ranks of the saints: Theodore, Job, Paphnutius, Pecusius, Athenodorus, Eponichus, Soutus, Psois, Dionysius, Petronius and others.

Troparion Tone 5:
As a pastor of the Chief Shepherd/ thou didst guide flocks of monks into the heavenly sheepfold / thyself illumined, thou didst instruct others concerning the Habit and Rule./ And now thou dost rejoice with them in the heavenly mansions.

Kontakion Tone 2:
O Godbearing Pachomius, after living the life of Angels in thy body/ thou wast granted their glory./ Now thou art standing with them before God's throne/ and praying that we all may be forgiven.


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