Our Holy Father Arsenius the Great.

Commemorated May 8 in the Orthodox Christian Menaion

From the Prologue

This famous saint was born of a patrician family in Rome, and was well-educated both in secular learning and philosophy and in spiritual wisdom. Abandoning all secular studies, he gave himself to the service of the Church and was deacon in a large church in Rome. Unmarried, retiring, silent and prayerful, Arsenius thought that he would spend his whole life in that way. But, by the providence of God, his life was directed in a different way. The Emperor Theodosius summoned him to bring up and educate his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, and made him a senator, surrounding him with wealth, honour and luxury. But this was a greater burden than pleasure to the heart of Arsenius. It happened at one time that Arcadius was at fault, and Arsenius punished him for it. The insulted Arcadius thought up a harsh revenge on his teacher, and, when Arsenius discovered this, he dressed himself in simple clothing, went to the coast, got into a boat and sailed off to Egypt. When he arrived at the famous Scetis, he became a disciple of John the Dwarf and gave himself to asceticism. He considered himself as one dead, and, when he was informed that a rich kinsman had died and left him all his goods, he replied: 'I died before he did. How, then, can I be his heir?' He retired to a cell in the desert as into a grave, and there he spent his days weaving baskets from palm-leaves and his nights in prayer. He fled from men and from every conversation with men. Only on feast-days did he leave his cell and come to the church for Communion. In order not to become idle, he often put this question to himself: 'Arsenius, why did you come into the desert?' He spent thirty-five years as a hermit, and all that time he was an example to the monks and the glory of monasticism. In all, he lived a hundred years and departed this life peacefully in 448, after long labours and trials voluntarily taken on himself. He went to the Kingdom of Christ the Lord, whom he had loved with all his heart and soul.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
©1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK

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