January 8, 2023 - Kiahk 30, 1739

Departure of St. John, Archpriest of Scetis

On this day, St. John (Youannis), the archpriest (Heagomen) of Shiheet (Scetis) departed. When he was ordained archpriest for the monastery of St. Macarius, the whole wilderness was illumined by him and he became a father to many of the saints. Among those saints were Anba Gawarga and Anba Abraam, the two great stars, and Anba Mina, bishop of Tamai 'Tamuz', and Anba Zacharias and many others, through whom many souls were saved.

Because of his holiness and his great piety, when he was administering Holy Communion to the people, he was able to recognize those who were sinners and those who were righteous. Several times he saw Christ and the angels surrounding Him upon the altar.

He once saw one of the priests, who was of bad reputation, coming to the church and the evil spirits surrounding him. When the priest arrived at the door of the church, the angel of the Lord came out from the sanctuary (Hekal) with a fiery sword in his hand and dismissed the unclean spirits. The priest entered the church and put on the service clothes and administered the liturgy and gave the Holy Communion to the people. After he was finished, he took off the service clothes and went out of the church, the evil spirits returned to him. This was what St. John said to his brethren the monks, to make them aware that there was no difference between a sinful and an unsinful priest in ministering the church sacraments. For it is for the sake of the people that the bread and the wine are transubstantiated to the Body and the Blood of Christ.

He told them a parable, 'As the picture of the emperor is imprinted on his seal that is made from iron or gold, and the seal is one, also the priesthood is one with the sinner and the righteous, and the Lord rewards everyone according to his deeds.'

This saint suffered many tribulations. The 'Berbers' took him captive to their country. He stayed there for many years, during which he was tortured. He met St. Samuel, the abbot of the monastery of Qualamon, during his captivity.

By the grace of God, he returned to his monastery. When he knew in a vision the day of his departure, he called the brethren and commanded them to keep the Commandments of the Lord, and to walk in the pathway of the saintly fathers, to share with them the good portion and the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. Shortly after, he became ill and he saw a crowd of saints were coming to take his spirit, and he gave up the spirit in the hand of the Lord. His brethren carried him to the church and because of their strong love for him and their firm belief in his holiness, they kept a portion of his burial clothes which was a source of healing for many sicknesses. This father lived for 90 years. His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.