We must obey until death the primates of the Church of God and love them and fear them (part. 1)

  1. Of saint Gregory the Great

Once while saint Benedict rested in his cell, his disciple, Placidus went to bring water from the place called by the locals `pit`. But he dropped the jar with which he wanted to take water and was taken by the stream, being thrown by the water whirl inside the pit at a stone’s throw. The man of God who was resting in his cell as we said, knew what had happened and calling his disciple Mavros said: `Run, brother Mavros, because brother Placidus fell into the `pit` and the water whirl threw him afar.

Hearing the elder’s request, Mavros ran and arriving there he saw Placidus pushed away by the rage of the water. Thus with steady faith and courage with the prayers of his elder he stepped in the water and started to walk quickly like on the ground until he reached Placidus, who was taken far away. Grabbing him of his hair took him out of the water and walking in the same way they came to the shore. Then Mavros came to his senses ad he understood that he had walked on water and it would have been impossible to do that if he hadn’t been strengthened by his elder’s miraculous prayer. Amazed and frightened by that happenstance he got back to the elder and related to him the divine miracle.

Saint Benedict did not believe at all that the miracle happened because of his holiness but because of his disciple’s obedience. But Mavros said that the elder’s order made the miracle, confessing that he wasn’t feeling anymore under that power he had had when he had walked on water. Taking heed at the humbleness of their words and at their caring love for each other Placidus said: while I was pulled from the water to the shore I saw before my head my abba’s waistcoat and I felt that it was like he took me out of the water.

  • From the life of saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch (the Great)

Great Theodosius knew that those who had chosen to live in accordance with the will of God were helped most than anything else in acquiring virtue by the remembrance of death. What did he think then to do? He ordered his disciples to build a tomb. First for reminding them of their end – as it is its name – making them more zealous in their struggle and urging them to be more diligent in gaining virtue and secondly to receive the reposed. Moreover the pious elder was clairvoyant seeing what was about to happen.

When the tomb was ready saint Theodosius stood above that surrounded by his disciples. Seeing with the farsighted eye of his mind what was about to happen he looked at them and said jokingly: `Now the tomb is ready. Which one of you will use it the first?`

That’s how the pious spoke with a certain kind of humour. And a priest called Basil who for his zeal for the good things showed clearly the elder’s qualities, seeing the one who had begotten him in spirit by resemblance in virtue as the children resemble their parents, knowing that the elder had not said those words in vain, began to speak ready to choose death gladly not as if it were something undesired but as if it were useful and beneficial. So he knelt down and with his face to earth said: `Bless me, father. I will go inside the tomb first.`

This is what he asked and Theodosius gave him the blessing. Then Basil got in the tomb and the elder ordered to be done everything was customary for the dead: the memorial service for three, nine and forty days. And after forty days without feeling any fever or having any headache or any other kind of physical pain, Basil died as if in a sweet sleep. He received the reward for his obedience and for his zeal to move there (unmistakable sign of the one who is not fond of the worldly things) to be the first from their community to go before God and receive a crown.

For forty days great Theodosius saw and heard holy Basil singing at the Vespers, standing among his disciples in the pew.None of the others heard his voice or saw his face except a certain Aetios, man who followed his master and wanted to be a disciple to Theodosius not only knowing his deeds but also imitating him. He did not see Basil only heard his voice. So he asked the elder if he heard the voice of the reposed too. The elder answered that he saw and heard him and if he wanted he could show him when that one would come.

When night fell and the holy service  was done the man of God saw Basil again very clearly among the psalters standing and singing with them. He showed him to Aetios adding a prayer: `Open his eyes, God, to see this great mystery of Your great works.` Than that one saw him and ran to embrace him lovingly, but Basil remained untouched and vanished. He was only heard saying: `Save your souls fathers and brothers. You won’t see me anymore from now on.`

This happening shows that the word of Christ from the Gospel is perfectly true and trustworthy: `Who believes in Me, even if he dies, he shall live.`

  • From the life of pious Theodora

Close to the monastery where blessed Theodora lived was a lake, where was a crocodile who ate anyone who passed by that place, man or animal, big or small. So dangerous it was for the locals that the eparch of Alexandria, Gregory sent guards to impede the travelers to pass by the lake.

The abbot of the monastery knew Theodora’s life that was close to that of the angels and for sure she was not far from fullness of grace. So he called her and said: Son, Theodore (because the saint lived in the monastery disguised as a man), take a jug and go quickly to bring water from the lake. And because she knew the advice of the apostle – Listen to your superiors – she did what she was told. Many advised her not to go near the lake since she would have gone to certain death.

But she put all her faith in God and doing the work with the obedience she knew it brought life, not death she got rid of those who stopped her and arrived at the lake. And there – oh, how wondrous are Your deeds, God! – they saw her taken by the crocodile on its back. She took water filling the jug then she was taken back to the shore on the back of the crocodile. Thus she got on the shore unharmed and rebuking the crocodile this one was punished for everything it had done until then and fell dead.

This thing was related to many others because those who had seen it wanted to share it with them. And thus due to the saint all the people thanked to God.

Excerpt from EVERGETINOS – Bilingual edition 2010  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. II, Theme 34