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Venerable Sisoes the Great (July 6)

Saint Sisoes the Great (+ 429) was a solitary monk, pursuing asceticism in the Egyptian desert in a cave sanctified by the prayerful labors of his predecessor, Saint Anthony the Great (January 17). For his sixty years of labor in the desert, Saint Sisoes attained to sublime spiritual purity and he was granted the gift of wonderworking, so that by his prayers he once restored a dead child back to life.

Extremely strict with himself, Abba Sisoes was very merciful and compassionate to others, and he received everyone with love. To those who visited him, the saint first of all always taught humility. When one of the monks asked how he might attain to a constant remembrance of God, Saint Sisoes remarked, “That is no great thing, my son, but it is a great thing to regard yourself as inferior to everyone else. This leads to the acquisition of humility.” Asked by the monks whether one year is sufficient for repentance if a brother sins, Abba Sisoes said, “I trust in the mercy of God that if such a man repents with all his heart, then God will accept his repentance in three days.”

When Saint Sisoes lay upon his deathbed, the disciples surrounding the Elder saw that his face shone like the sun. They asked the dying man what he saw. Abba Sisoes replied that he saw Saint Anthony, the prophets, and the apostles. His face increased in brightness, and he spoke with someone. The monks asked, “With whom are you speaking, Father?” He said that angels had come for his soul, and he was entreating them to give him a little more time for repentance. The monks said, “You have no need for repentance, Father.” Saint Sisoes said with great humility, “I do not think that I have even begun to repent.”

After these words the face of the holy abba shone so brightly that the brethren were not able to look upon him. Saint Sisoes told them that he saw the Lord Himself. Then there was a flash like lightning, and a fragrant odor, and Abba Sisoes departed to the Heavenly Kingdom.

This Saint, great and renowned among the ascetics of Egypt, lived in the fourth century in Scete of Nitria. After the death of Saint Anthony the Great, he left Scete to live in Saint Anthony’s cave; he said of this, “Thus in the cave of a lion, a fox makes his dwelling.” When Sisoës was at the end of his long life of labours, as the Fathers were gathered about him, his face began to shine, and he said, “Behold, Abba Anthony is come”; then, “Behold, the choir of the Prophets is come”; his face shone yet more bright, and he said, “Behold, the choir of the Apostles is come.” The light of his countenance increased, and he seemed to be talking with someone. The Fathers asked him of this; in his humility, he said he was asking the Angels for time to repent. Finally his face became as bright as the sun, so that the Fathers were filled with fear. He said, “Behold, the Lord is come, and He says, ‘Bring Me the vessel of the desert,'” and as he gave up his soul into the hands of God, there was as it were a flash of lightning, and the whole dwelling was filled with a sweet fragrance.

Ο Όσιος Σισώης ο Αιγύπτιος στον τάφο του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου-Εορτάζει σήμερα - ΒΗΜΑ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΙΑΣ

Sisoes was an Egyptian by birth and a disciple of St. Anthony the Great. Following the death of his great teacher, St. Sisoes settled on a desert mountain called St. Anthony’s Mount, where Anthony had earlier lived in asceticism. By imposing difficult labors on himself, he tamed himself to such an extent that he became meek and guileless as a lamb. Therefore God endowed Sisoes with abundant grace–so that he was able to heal the sick, drive out unclean spirits, and resurrect the dead. For sixty years Sisoes lived in asceticism in the wilderness, and was a source of living wisdom for all the monks and laymen who came to him for counsel. Before his death, his face shone as the sun.

The monks stood around him and they were astonished at this manifestation. And when the saint gave up his soul, the entire room was filled with a sweet-smelling fragrance. Sisoes died in extreme old age, in the year 429 A.D. St. Sisoes taught the monks: “Whatever way temptation comes to man, a man should give himself over to the will of God, and recognize that the temptation came because of his sins. If something good happens, it should be said that it happened according to God’s providence.” One monk asked Sisoes: “How can I please God and be saved?” The saint answered: “If you wish to please God, withdraw from the world, separate yourself from the earth, put aside creation, draw near to the Creator, and unite yourself to God with prayers and tears–then you will find rest in this age and in the age to come.”

A monk also asked Sisoes: “How can I attain humility?” The saint replied: “When a person learns to acknowledge every man as being better than himself, then he has attained humility.” Ammon complained to Sisoes that he could not memorize the wise sayings that he read, in order to be able to repeat them in conversation with men. The saint replied to him: “That is not necessary. It is necessary to attain purity of mind and to speak from that purity, placing your hope in God.”

Apolytikion of Sisoes the Great

First Tone

Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Sisoës, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

Kontakion of Sisoes the Great

Fourth Tone

In thy struggles, thou wast as an earthly Angel, shining light upon the minds of all the faithful ceaselessly with thy divine signs; and for this cause, righteous Sisoës, we honour thee faithfully.

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