In today’s world, people who seek a spiritual life are often very lonely in their quest and often wonder how they find salvation where they are. St. Pachomios addressed this issue and assures us that, indeed, one’s ‘place’ does not determine one’s salvation.

St. Pachomios lived from 292 to 346, but his relatively brief life had a profound impact on the development of monasticism. Although Pachomios was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great, the two apparently never met. A pagan boy born in the present-day Egyptian city of Esneh, he was drafted into the army to fight in a war at the age of twenty. In a camp for conscripts near Luxor, Pachomios was visited one night by local Christians who came to the camp to give food and water to the conscripts since life in the camps was very miserable. After a fruitful conversation with one of the visitors, Pachomios prayed to God that He would deliver him from his plight, he would dedicate his life to serving Him. Within a few months, the war was over and Pachomios returned to Luxor where he was baptised. It was in this region of Upper Egypt that Pachomios was to establish the idea of cenobitic monasticism (monastic tradition with emphases on regulated community life, that is, in which the monks live together in a community under a set of rules established by the ruling abbot). Over the ensuing years, thousands of men and women would embrace the monastic life in communities scattered up and down the Nile Valley. St Pachomios’ feast day is celebrated on May 15.

Become guileless and be like the guileless sheep whose wool is sheared off without them saying even a word. Do not go from one place to another saying, “I will find God here or there.” God has said, “I fill the earth, I fill the heavens” (Jeremiah 23:24). And again, “If you cross over water, I am with you” (Isaiah 43:2); and again, “The waves will not swallow you up” (Isaiah 43:2). My son, be aware that God is within you, so that you may dwell in His law and commandments. Behold, the thief was on the cross, and he entered Paradise; but behold Judas was among the Apostles and he betrayed his Lord. Behold, Rahab was in prostitution, and she was numbered among the saints; but behold, Eve was in Paradise, and she was deceived. Behold, Job was on the dungheap, and he was compared with his Lord; but behold, Adam was in Paradise, and he fell away from the commandment.

Behold, the angels were in heaven, and they were hurled into the abyss; but behold Elijah and Enoch who were raised into the kingdom of heaven. “In every place, then, seek out God; at every moment seek out his strength” (Psalms 105:4). Seek Him out like Abraham, who obeyed God, who called Him “My friend.” Seek Him out like Joseph, who did battle against impurity, so that he was made ruler over his enemies. Seek Him out like Moses, who followed his Lord, and He made him lawgiver and let him come to know His likeness. Daniel sought Him out, and He taught him great mysteries; He saved him from the lions gullet. The three youths sought Him out, and found Him in the fiery furnace. Job took refuge with Him and He cured him of his sores. Susanna sought Him out, and He saved her from the hands of the wicked. Judith sought Him out, and found Him in the tent of Holofernes. All these sought Him out and He delivered them; and He delivered others also.

“Pachomian Koinonia volume III”

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