Listen my beloved brethren and believers of the Lord Jesus, I shall tell you what I saw with my own eyes!
At the age of twelve, I greatly desired monasticism and so came to the monastery where I lived with a saintly man who used to write spiritual books. He gave me the best education and teachings and eventually I became a writer too. The Lord enlightened my heart and eyes and I accepted his teaching with great love. Many years after my teacher died, I became the abbot of the monastery, much against my will as I loved to live the life of solitude.
When I became abbot, I found it very difficult to find time to write despite people asking me to write many books. As a result they approached the Patriarch and requested that he replace me as abbot so that I may dedicate more time to writing. I loved to write the stories of saints, especially those I met.
One day while I was meditating upon the many wonders of the saints; their struggle and their victory over the devil, I looked out of my cell window and I saw a monk walking hastily towards the monastery. His clothes were very worn out and when he approached the monastery, I viewed him closely. He seemed very tired and leaned against the wall of the monastery to rest a while. I quickly said to one of my disciples, “Go down to the monastery and bring that monk to me!”
The monk greeted me and together we sat down. I asked him about his story; where he had come from and where he was going. He answered, “I have lived in the wilderness of Saba for several years now and I want to receive the Holy Communion and see my saintly fathers, before I die. In my sleep last night, I had a vision of someone telling me, “Get up and hurry to the Descending’ Monastery (the Glass Monastery), for you shall see there, the saints whom nobody knows about; see them, receive the Holy Communion and know that after ten days, you will depart from this vanishing world to be with your Heavenly Father in His home. The saintly fathers will pray on you and bury your body…” I got up immediately, seeking this place though I did not know the way, but when I began to walk, I heard the voices of people talking, and so I turned around to see three men dressed in white carrying in their hands censors full of incense. They were praying and giving praise to the Lord and they lifted up their heads towards Heaven hourly one after the other. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful sight and praised God. I approached and asked them to pray for me; so they blessed me. I asked them where they were going and they answered, “We are going to the Descending’ Monastery.”
I followed closely behind them, and within a short time, we arrived at this monastery. We sat at the door for a moment to rest and I did not even notice anyone opening the monastery door, but when the three elders entered and I followed, they disappeared from my sight. I was very puzzled.” Abba Boctor then said to the monk, “I saw you coming forth out of the wilderness, but I did not see anyone with you.” When I Boctor turned towards the saint, I could not look into his face as it resembled the face of an angel, so I glorified God.
I then took the saintly father and went into the church as it was time for the Holy Mass. He received the Holy Communion, and later we returned to my cell. When I offered him food to eat, he said, “I have not seen food for many years; my food is the grass of the wilderness and I drink rain water.” He then took out some grass and ate from it, “This is sufficient for me for a week.” He also gave some of it to me and late it. He stayed with me for seven days, telling me the stories of the Hermit Fathers in the wilderness, of those who eat from the grass of the wilderness. I asked, “My saintly father, I ask you for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ to pray for me so that He may lead me on the path of righteousness and humility so that I will never have need for this earthly food.” He smiled saying, “If you would like to come with me, then come along.”
I found it difficult to walk because I spent most of my life sitting down in order to write holy books, and also because of the weakness of my faith. The hermit father said, “Ask and you will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to you, for whoever asks will take and whoever seeks will find and whoever knocks it will be open for him ” (Luke 11:9-10). He then said, “I shall go now, but later I will return to you.” In less than three hours he returned and brought with him more of the wilderness grass. I was touched by the purity of this saint’s hands and heart and how he pleased the Lord with his simple deeds.
I was thinking about what the hermit father had said earlier, about having only ten days left before departing to the Eternal Home. Eight days had already passed. On the ninth day he said to me, “I wish, my saintly brother, that you bury my body when I die tomorrow and bury my bones with my fathers the saints.” I asked him, “Please tell me, where are the bones of those saints?” He warmly smiled saying, “Boctor the writer, do you not yet know? Get up and come with me.” So I got up immediately and followed him. He walked me to the outside of the monastery and I saw tombs I had never seen before. I saw saintly fathers coming forward to greet him and pray on him. I stood watching from a distance and heard one of them saying to him, “We are waiting for you to come and be with us…”
As I heard their beautiful voices, I could not lift up my eyes to look at them or ask anything of them. I then heard voices praising and singing triumphantly, “Holy God, Holy God Lord of host, heaven and earth are full of Your glory and honour!” I turned and lifted up my eyes but could not see them, I found the saintly hermit father had passed away and was lying on the ground. Woe to me from that hour! How can I bury his pure body? How can I make for him a tomb like these other tombs belonging to the saintly fathers? I approached and kissed him and there I saw beside him a grave already dug. I carried him carefully and placed him within, then left wondering about the story of this saint and the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon him because of his patience, faith and peace.
I went back to my cell and told my brethren the monks what I saw. They rejoiced when I told them about the place of the saint’s tombs. When I took my fellow brethren to the tombs, so that they could take their blessings, I became disorientated and could not remember nor find the saints’ tombs and so I My eyes were weak from ageing, sol ate from the grass the saint had given me and immediately my sight became stronger and I was able once again to continue writing holy books.
I wrote this story so that the believers might know the extent of God granting grace to those who follow His commandments and do His will, without allowing anything of this world to touch their heart, for this world with its deceit and desires can cause some of the chosen to fall. Therefore take care my brethren to please the Lord by being obedient to His will so that you may be found blameless on the day of judgement and thus achieve the kingdom of heaven.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit one God forever, Amen.
From the Desert Fathers