Synaxis of All Saints
Commemorated on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
From the life of Saint Nephon
There was also another poor and old negro, who lived in a city called Ysia. He used to wander about aimlessly, here and there, silently muttering words that nobody could understand. Because of this, many people had believed he was not in his right mind.
There came a time when a severe drought had fallen on the land….The animals were dying of thirst, the scorched earth had cracked open and the crops had all dried up…. The clergy and the faithful, with their bishop at the lead, made continuous entreaties and night-vigils with prayers for this plague to stop, but they were of no avail.
One night, the bishop saw in his dream an angel, who said to him: “This is what God commands you: Take your priests and go, first thing in the morning, and wait at the southern gate of the city; the first man that you see entering the city, approach him, stop him, and ask him to pray to the Lord to send you rain.”
Indeed, at the break of dawn the very next day, right after Matins. The Bishop took his ministers and went to the southern gate, just like the angel had instructed him. They didn’t have to wait for very long; shortly afterwards, a old negro man appeared, who seemed to be walking towards the city gate. He was extremely old, and was carrying on his hunched back a bundle of wood.
The bishop stopped him, and helped him to set down the bundle of wood.
“Old man”, begged the bishop, “please pray to God so that He might show His mercy and send rain, both for us and for this earth!”
Without any objection whatsoever, the old negro immediately raised his thin, bony arms towards the heavens and prayed.
In a matter of minutes, to everyone’s amazement, lightning and thunder began to manifest out of nowhere! Heavy black clouds started to gather rapidly, the sky darkened, and a torrential rain began to pour down from the sky. But oh, what a rainfall that was! A proper deluge! Houses began to be flooded and the surrounding fields soon resembled an expanse of sea!
The bishop was now forced to beseech the old man to pray again, for the rain to stop. The old man humbly and obediently raised up his arms once again to the heavens….and the downpour ceased immediately!
Amazed at this double miracle, the bishop then persistently asked the old stranger to reveal his life story and to tell them what his spiritual labours were, that had endowed him with such a closeness to God.
But the old man bashfully refused to reply to the bishop.
“Your eminence, as you can see, I am nothing more than an old, negro nobody… Why are you bothering to look for virtues in me?” he replied, without raising his head.
“In the name of the Lord of the heavens and the earth!” the bishop cried out imperatively. “You must reveal the whole truth, so that the name of our Lord may be praised accordingly!”
“Forgive me, your eminence! You see, I haven’t done anything worth mentioning. The only thing that I have strived to keep since the day that I was baptized a Christian, was to never eat my bread without deserving it, and to never become a burden to anyone. So, every day I go into the hills and collect a bundle of wood, I load it on my back and go down to the city to sell it. From the money I get, I only keep two small coins – just enough for the day’s meal. The rest of the money I give to poor people like me. Whenever the weather is bad and I can’t go up to the hills, I fast until the weather improves and then I go back up there again to bring my load of wood to the city, to sell it and provide for myself and my other poor townsfolk….
With these words, the elderly negro respectfully bade the bishop and the other clergymen farewell, hoisted the bundle of wood onto his back once again, and walked into the city to sell it….
From the book: “AN ASCETIC BISHOP” (the life of Saint Nephon), by the Holy Monastery of the Paraclete Publications, pages 113-120.Translation by A.N.
Troparion Feast of All Saints— Tone 4
As with fine porphyry and royal purple, Your church has been adorned with Your martyrs’ blood shed throughout all the world. She cries to You, O Christ God: Send down Your bounties on Your people, Grant peace to Your habitation, and great mercy to our souls!