Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
Saint Pachomius the Great, Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism
Commemorated on May 15
‘’The perfect have no need of legislation…’’
the angel said to Saint Pachomius the Great
Lausiac History (Historia Lausiaca) by Palladius
The Life of abba PACHOMIUS and those who were with him
Pachomius lived in a place called Tabennesi, which is in the Thebaid. He was among those who lived in the greatest and most perfect way of life, and was found worthy of the gift of angelic visions and foretelling the future. He was a great lover of the poor and was full of charity to all.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him as he sat in his cave.
“Pachomius,” he said, “You have done properly and thoroughly all the things given you to do. You no longer need to live in this place, so get up, go out, gather together all the young monks and live with them. Give them rules according to the formula which I will give you.”
And he gave Pachomius a bronze tablet on which was inscribed the following,
‘Allow each person food and drink according to his strength.
‘Give difficult tasks to the strong. Give lighter, less arduous tasks to those who find things difficult because of their weakness.
‘Put several cells in each wing and put three in a cell, but let all the food be prepared in one building.
‘Let them not lie down to sleep, but provide semi-reclining chairs, give them blankets and let them sleep there sitting up. Let them wear at night linen shifts and girdles and let each person have a sheepskin of white wool. They should not eat or sleep without them.
‘When they go to the Communion of Christ on Saturday and Sunday let them put off their belts and sheepskins and let them go in wearing only their cowls which should have no shaggy wool on them, but have a purple cross superimposed on them.
‘Let there be twenty-four groups of monks according to the twenty-four letters of the [Greek] alphabet. Each group should be known by its Greek letter, from a, b, etc. down to w. If the archimandrite wants to enquire about any particular person out of such a great number, he should ask, “How is group a?” or “How is group b?” or “Give my greetings to group r,” according to the letter belonging to each group. The more sincere and simple ones should be given the letter i, the more difficult ones the letter x . Thus you can conveniently match every group to each letter of the alphabet according to the discipline and style of life of each one, without anyone except the spiritual teachers understanding the meaning.’
Also written on the tablet:
‘If you have a guest from a different monastery which has a different rule let him eat and drink separately and do not admit him into the monastery unless he is simply on a journey.
‘Furthermore, when once a person has entered, do not finally admit him till he has proved his ability to endure the battle for three years. But when he has coped with this difficult life for three years then let him carry on with the contest.
‘Let the brothers wear their hoods up in the refectory so that one brother cannot see another chewing. They should not speak while eating, nor should they take their eyes off the table and their plates.
‘They should say twelve sets of prayers during the day, twelve at the lighting of the lamps in the evening, twelve during the night vigil, and three at the ninth hour. When they are eating together en masse let each group sing one psalm before each set of prayers.’
When the great Pachomius* objected to the angel that the prayers were rather few, the angel replied, “I have decided it this way so that even the least can fulfil the rule without being overburdened. The more proficient ones don’t need to keep these laws; they can give their whole lives to contemplation when they are in their cells. These rules I have given for the sake of those whose understanding is less developed, so that like stubborn servants going in fear of their master they may fulfil the discipline of their lives securely and freely.”
When the angel had finished his task in setting up these rules he departed from Pachomius. There are about seven thousand men in monasteries following these rules. The principal great monastery where Pachomius lived, from which the others sprang, contains about fourteen hundred men.
*When Pachomius objected to the angel that the prayers were few, the angel said to him: “I gave this rule so as to make sure in advance that even the little ones keep the rule and are not afflicted. But the perfect have no need of legislation, for by themselves in their cells they have surrendered the whole of their life to the contemplation of God. But I have legislated for as many as have not a discerning mind, in order that they, like house-servants fulfilling the duties of their station, may live a life of freedom.”
Lausiac History (Historia Lausiaca) by Palladius Part 7, Chapter XXXVIII, The Life of abba PACHOMIUS and those who were with him- De Vitis Patrum, Book VIIIby Palladius, bishop of Helenopolistranslated by Gentianus Hervetus )
Troparion Saint Pachomius the Great — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, / and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. / By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! / Our Father Pachomius pray to Christ God to save our souls!