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Abba Missael the Anchorite

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Abba Missael

Anba Isaac the Abbot of Kalamoun Monastery once said:

I was in the monastery one Sunday when a young boy of about twelve years old, came to me and said, “My Father Isaac, I ask you to take me as one of your sons and anoint me with monasticism and the monastic garb (Eskeem). I know you have the authority, and I have seen the monks’ obedience towards you and realized how much you are respected.”

I felt that he had come from a fruitful tree and that he was heartily looking for true worship. I answered him, “My son go and choose a cell for yourself. If you endure and have patience against tiredness, loneliness, temptation and constant prayers, you will be fit for monasticism.” I advised him also, to learn the scriptures, and memorize the psalms. I assigned one of the Fathers to tutor him and teach him the monastic order and conduct. I said to him, “Son, you are young and I want first to make sure that your parents don’t object your coming here. So tell me all about yourself.”

He began to tell me about his past. He said, “My parents were bad. They never prayed or had mercy towards anyone. They were old and had no children, and were deeply saddened because of this. They asked a righteous monk to pray on their behalf. The monk answered them and said, ‘Go and repent first to God and he will give you a son.’ Right away, they started praying expressing their repentance to God. They prayed and had mercy for the poor. They went to the village priest to teach them how to pray. Still, they couldn’t memorize anything except psalm fifty: “Have mercy on me …….”

They continued praying until the Lord responded to their wish, and I was born to them. They raised me well. They were well off and they owned many cows, sheep, and furnishings. They were generous with the poor and needy. When I was five years old, my father passed away, and a year later my mother passed away too. I remained alone. A little sum of money was left. When the Bishop realized this he took care of my belongings. I thought to myself and I said;

“Where is my father?”

“Where is my mother?”

“Where are all my ancestors?”

I realized that this world is transitional, as if nothing. Thus, I escaped and came here to the wilderness.”

Within a year, he succeeded in learning all the church rites and memorized the Holy Bible. He was so diligent in praying and fasting that the old monk, his tutor, came to me saying, “The youngster has learned all the church rules because he has the spirit of God.”

I, Isaac the poor, said to myself, “I have to put him to the test.” So I tested him. Then I put on him the holy monastic garments (eskeem), and gave him the name “Misael”. The Holy Spirit came upon him and his face shone with light….

He was solitary in his cell. No one knew anything about him. One night a monk came to me saying that he heard a voice of a man crying and scolding himself saying: “Oh my soul, I’ll let you know that the flesh doesn’t desire anything except worldly pleasures, and all this because of your sins. But if you desire salvation, escape from all of that.”

I realized that he was being tempted by satan with worldly pleasures. So, I went to Misael’s cell and knocked, when he opened the door I found that he was praying the midnight prayers. When he was done I asked him about what I had heard of that night. I asked, “Did the enemy come to you?” He then, bowed down to me and said, “The devil is aware of my movements, but he can’t stand listening to prayers.” Then I caught a glimpse of a book. It was “The Wisdom of Solomon,” and he had been reading from it. I acknowledged that he was wise.

Once, I went to visit him and I found him standing praying and supplicating God, saying;

“Oh My Lord, save me and look to my humility because my mother and my father have forsaken me but the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10

I knocked on his door, when he opened the door, I was amazed to see that his body had become like a piece of dry wood. His face had changed, his arms were like a palm trees dried branches. Nothing was left of him except his eyes through which he observed me. He stood silent, without a word. Feeling awfully depressed I could not help myself from crying. He said to me, “My Father Isaac, you ought to be happy.” I replied; “How can I not cry? How can I be as happy as when you came to the Monastery. You were young, gentle, good looking, graceful, and looked better than the sons of royalty, but now you look as if you are dead.” He answered me, “God preserved my eyesight and gave me the strength to stand up between his arms. My body was striving for worldly pleasures, so I oppressed it and it became that way.”

Then I assumed that he was a great saint, and I asked him to pray for me. He said to me, “Father I will tell you what I have seen in a dream; After three days, a group of strong men will come from Alexandria to the monastery. They will ask to have one of your monks. Don’t stand in their way, because they are the kings messengers, otherwise they will persecute the monks.” He then cried saying, “I am that monk. So don’t be troubled father, for the Lord is with me, and it is He who protects us. I will return to you afterwards. In the next year there will be a great destruction on the earth, but don’t be afraid for I will come to you and you will see God’s will.”

He left me confused of what he had said, and when I told the monks of it, they were amazed. A few days later, a group of people came from Alexandria asking for that blessed monk. It stated that he was to be carried away without any delay. I was sad and told them that he was not there. So they put their hands on me, I the poor Isaac, and tied me to a marble pillar with iron chains. They brought all the monks out of their cells, they wanted to take me with them to Alexandria. When St. Misael saw them doing that to me, he approached them and asked, “Who do you want?” They answered him, “Misael the young monk, because the King wants him.” Then he said to them, “Let that old man go and I will lead you to him.” So, they freed me and took St. Misael and left the monastery. Thus I lost trace of him, and mourned with my brethren for days.

A famine came over the land, many people passed away because of hunger. I had stored quantities of corn, grains, and beans,etc… in the monastery, because the Saint had informed me in advance. Thus I was saved from starvation.

It came to the governors’ knowledge that we had food in the monastery. He came, asked the food and sealed the monastery. When his demands became harsher, I cried and remembered what Anba Misael had said to me, “ I will come to you and save you from starvation.” When the famine became greater a group of people came to the monastery and when they saw the governor and his men, they asked them; “What do you want from this wilderness?” The Governor answered, “In this monastery there is food while there is no food on earth.” They ordered him to leave and not return to the monastery again or he would die by the sword. Right away the governor and his men left the monastery without harming anyone.

I,Isaac, turned back to find out who were those people who had come to help me and to give them some food but they replied, “You are the one who needs the food.” I stepped forward and asked their leader, “My brother, from where do you come?” One of them answered me and said, “We were delegated for this wilderness in the presence of the King and we do not allow any one to harm its people.”

I bowed down to the earth entreating them to tell me about themselves, but they departed into the wilderness. I stayed there trying to think of where they could be from. A youngster separated from them and took my hand and raised me up. He said to me, while holding my hand, “My father Isaac, truly God had mercy on me and rewarded me because of my obedience………I am your son Misael the one who you clothed with the monastic garb. And those were the people who came and took me with them. No one has seen me since that hour, except you today because of the promise I made you. They are heaven’s soldiers, and the city in which they spoke to you previously about, Alexandria, is Jerusalem. We come to this place and others where there is God’s obedience and fear.

I asked him, “My brother, can I become one of you, so I may rest from the responsibilities of caring for the monastery? There are a lot of shepherds.”

He answered and said, “You can not do that, because the authority was given to you from heaven. So take care of the brethren and manage their affairs. Do not be afraid my father Isaac, and have peace.” He also sent his peace to the brethren and asked me to send them his greetings. Then Anba Misael said to me, “Go to Anba Athanasios, the Bishop of the city in which I was raised, and ask him for the money in which my parents left me. Then take the money and build a church in the monastery in my name.”

Then he left and joined his companions. I immediately went, as I was advised, to see the Bishop. He gave me 900 weights of gold, 900 derhams of silver, 400 wool gowns, 100 leather gowns, and 500 cattle. I was amazed and returned back to the monastery. I built a delightful church in the cell in which Anba Misael used to live in. (Until now there is a church in the name of Anba Misael the Anchorite, in the monastery of Anba Samuel, in Kalamon.)

When the time came near to consecrate the church, I went to the monastery, and the cities of Upper Egypt and told them about the day in which we would consecrate the church... Many people gathered for the consecration along with the Bishop of Fao, besides many other bishops, priests, and monks. They all attended the celebration of the church’s consecration. When we began the consecration prayer, I noticed a group enter the church. They were the same people whom I had met previously in the monastery. They entered the church carrying luminous sticks, which radiated a bright light. In the midst of the lights were crosses. I saw them and recognized them, but no one else could see them. I approached them and bowed in front of them, asking them to pray for me. I walked toward my son Misael and greeted him. They kept standing until the end of the consecration and until everyone had left. Then, they also left except for Anba Misael, who asked me; “My father Isaac, build a burial place for yourself in this church. Because in the coming year, on this same day, you will depart to the house of heavenly eternity. To the place which is prepared for you.

St. Misael the Anchorite departed and I did not see him again. I left and built a place for my burial in the northern side of the church.

The consecration day of the church was on the 10th of Bashens in the Coptic Year 396, during the reign of Decledianus.

Thus, I Isaac, saw St. Misael’s obedience towards God’s commandments, and his refusal of all worldly pleasures. He was like an angel, continuously praising the Lord of Lords.

Our church celebrates the feast of St. Misael on the 13th of Kiahk.

May his blessings be with us all… Glory to the Holy Trinity…. Amen!

 

 

About the monastery

St. Samuel Coptic Orthodox Monastery in the Kalamoun Mountain, under the auspices of His Grace Bishop Bassilios